NEW YORK — Mark Teixeira hit a
two-run triple on a play that caused Angels center fielder Torii Hunter
to lose a shoe, then doubled to start the go-ahead rally in the eighth
inning that led the New York Yankees over Los Angeles 5-3 Monday night
in a possible playoff preview.
New York broke a 3-all tie when
pinch-runner Brett Gardner took third as part of a double steal and
came home as catcher Mike Napoli bounced the throw past third baseman
Chone Figgins for an error. Robinson Cano added a run-scoring single,
and Mariano Rivera finished to reach 40 saves for the first time in
four years and the seventh time in his career.
The Angels' Vladimir Guerrero and New
York's Nick Swisher homered in the makeup of a May 3 rainout to raise
the total at new Yankee Stadium to 217 — two more than were ever hit in
a season at the original ballpark across the street.
New York opened a 7 1/2-game lead
over second-place Boston in the AL East with 17 to play. The Yankees
also took a six-game lead over the Angels for best record in the AL and
home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
With the score tied in the eighth,
Teixeira doubled off Jered Weaver (15-6) with one out and Alex
Rodriguez walked. Darren Oliver relieved, Gardner ran for Teixeira, and
the Yankees went ahead when the runners stole on a 1-1 pitch to Hideki
Weaver gave up five runs, eight hits
and four walks in 7 1/3 innings, while Joba Chamberlain allowed one run
and four hits in four innings and was pulled after 67 pitches. After
limiting his pitch count to as few as 35 in recent starts, the Yankees
are allowing him to gradually build back up.
Guerrero put the Angels on top when
he homered in the second. Swisher connected in the third — with both
drives landing in the second deck.
Figgins' RBI grounder gave the Angels a 2-1 lead in the fifth, which turned strange in the bottom half.
New York had runners at second and
third with one out following Swisher's double, Melky Cabrera's walk and
Derek Jeter's sacrifice. Johnny Damon then hit a bouncer to third that
could have driven in the tying run. Cabrera, who was on second, jumped
to avoid the ball but ran into Figgins and was called out for
Teixeira, who left the Angels last
winter to sign with the Yankees as a free agent, followed with a drive
off the center-field wall — he pointed at catcher Jeff Mathis as he ran
to first, claiming interference. Hunter appeared to have trouble
picking up the ball, one of his spikes came off as he hit against the
wall and he chased the ball wearing one shoe. Teixeira wound up with
his first triple since Aug. 11, 2007.
With two on and one out in the
seventh, Phil Coke relieved and threw a called third strike past
Figgins, who muttered at plate umpire Derryl Cousins. Coke then retired
Maicer Izturis on a grounder to shortstop, with Jeter grabbing the ball
near second and spinning to make the throw.
Kendry Morales hit into a tying
double-play grounder in the eighth after Los Angeles loaded the bases
with no outs against winner Phil Hughes (7-3).
The Angels, who began the day six
games ahead of second-place Texas in the AL West, were being forced to
play three games in three days in three cities and arrived in New York
from California between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m.
They've gone 34-20 against the
Yankees in the regular season since 2004 and eliminated New York in the
first round of the playoffs in 2002 and 2005.
"I think sometimes people look at
the Angels and they don't give them enough credit for how good they
are. This is a very good team and they've been a very good team for a
long time," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think it's important
to beat them."
If the standings stay the same, the
Angels would host Boston and the Yankees would be home against Detroit
in the AL playoff openers. Hunter, the Angels' All-Star center fielder,
has been impressed by what he's seen of the Yankees.
"This year, I think it's something
different about those guys," he said. "It's a fire, some kind of fire,
I see in those guys. It's totally different."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia downplayed his team's success against New York.
"You go back six or seven years,
it's a whole different group of players, group of matchups," he said.
"We by no means have dominated those guys."
After hitting 21 of his first
24 homers on the road, Swisher has three straight at Yankee Stadium.
… There were lots of empty premium seats. Attendance was announced at
44,301, the lowest at Yankee Stadium since a makeup game on July 23,
with a turnstile count of 30,070.
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