Scott Kazmir took the mound on Tuesday as a famed Yankee-tamer inherited by the Angels in late August for games like this one against AL East opponents. Kazmir came into Game 4 with a career 2.67 ERA in 87.2 innings against the Yankees.
But whereas the Yankees had been without a reliable ace for several postseasons, they now have CC Sabathia, who is a pretty darn good pitcher even on three days rest. He lets Joe Girardi sleep easily the night before his starts and has become as automatic as Alex Rodriguez home runs.
Derek Jeter led off the game with a flare down the right field line, but was swiftly picked off by Kazmir before he could even throw his first pitch to Johnny Damon. Coming into the game, the Yankees had attempted just one stolen base during the entire series.
Jeter?s leadoff single would mark the first of eight times in which the Yankees would get the first batter of an inning on base.
Though Mike Scioscia clearly stated he wouldn?t want to walk Rodriguez to lead off innings, Kazmir did indeed surrender a leadoff walk to him in the top of the second. To Kazmir?s credit, he was near the zone throughout the at bat, nibbling without giving anything across the fat part of the plate.
After Rodriguez stole second on Kazmir?s first pitch to the plate, he walked Jorge Posada. Hideki Matsui subsequently popped up weakly to Erick Aybar at shortstop and Robinson Cano popped up into shallow left, which was chased down by Aybar. After working the count full, Nick Swisher flied to right field to strand Rodriguez and Posada.
One inning after Mark Teixeira left Johnny Damon at second, Rodriguez led off the fourth with an up the middle base hit, followed by a first pitch double from Posada that hugged the third base line. Kazmir then struck out Matsui with a 92 MPH fastball after getting ahead of the count on two excellent sliders.
Cano then hit a shot on the ground to Howie Kendrick, who made an excellent throw to the plate, but Rodriguez got a quick jump from third and slid under Mike Napoli to score the first run of the game.
After Swisher walked to load the bases, Melky Cabrera had a two-RBI single through the hole to left field, which easily scored Posada and narrowly brought home Cano to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Yankees capitalized on a blown call at second on a pickoff play by Kazmir on Swisher for about five seconds when he came home from third on a sacrifice fly by Damon, but the Angels appealed to third and Swisher was called out, in an apparent makeup call, for leaving the bag too before the ball was caught by Torii Hunter.
Sabathia shut the Angels down in order during the bottom of the fourth, keeping his hit tally at just one to that point.
In the top of the fifth, Kazmir ended his night with a walk to Teixeira, causing Scioscia to pull him in favor of Jason Bulger after 86 pitches. On an 0-1 count, Rodriguez cleared the left field wall for his third homer in as many games to extend the Yankees? lead to 5-0 for Sabathia.
Sabathia revealed the first and ultimately only chink in his armor in the bottom of the fifth when Kendry Morales clobbered a letters-high 95 MPH fastball over the fence in center to make it a 5-1 game.
Mike Napoli kept the pressure on Sabathia with a single that right by the outstretched glove of Rodriguez. Aybar then singled to center field to cap off an eight-pitch at bat. Figgins grounded to second, which forced out Aybar, but he was quick enough to beat the throw from Jeter to first to give Bobby Abreu yet another chance at securing a big hit, but he flew out to Cabrera in center to kill the rally and strand Napoli at third.
In the top of the sixth and Jeter standing on third with two outs, Ervin Santana struck Rodriguez out looking to end the inning.
To lead the bottom of the sixth inning, Hunter worked a walk and then Guerrero singled to right on the first pitch of the at bat. Rivera then hit into a double play and Kendrick lined out hard to first to leave Hunter standing on third.
Santana continued to keep the game close into the eighth inning, but Matt Palmer gave up a two-run homer over the right field wall to Damon, which extended the New York lead to 7-1.
Sabathia headed into the clubhouse after the eighth inning, finishing the night giving up one run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Rodriguez piled on an eighth run when he came around to score after an errant throw tagging up to third following a leadoff double. Two more runs scored later in the inning on a Cabrera double.
Chad Gaudin closed out the ninth to end the Yankees? 10-1 victory.
Lead Off Success
Yankees: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th
Angels: 2nd, 6th,
Via Christopher Reina/RealGM
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, New York Yankees
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