Angels stage a big giveaway
NEW YORK -- Yanks for the memories? The Angels wouldn’t say so, not after self-destructing in spectacular fashion Sunday, blowing a five-run lead and giving up a franchise record-tying 10 unearned runs in their last regular-season game in Yankee Stadium.
The euphoria of Mark Teixeira’s eighth-inning grand slam, which turned a three-run deficit into a one-run lead, disintegrated amid a flurry of errors in the bottom half of the inning, as the New York Yankees rallied for six runs, all unearned, and a 14-9 victory.
Derek Jeter’s drive to deep left-center field glanced off the glove of center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. for a two-base error, paving the way for the Yankees to score four unearned runs in the seventh inning, and the Angels committed three errors during their eighth-inning meltdown, putting a sour ending to a 7-3 trip.
Asked whether this was as bad a collapse as he had seen, reliever Scot Shields, who started the eighth inning, offered little defense.
“I’d say so,” Shields said. “The defense we play is outstanding. There were a couple of tough hops for the guys, but we have no one to blame but ourselves. Tex hit the ball that got us all pumped up, but we gave it away. We left it open for them, and they took it.”
The Angels were tied for fifth place in the league with a .985 fielding percentage and have made their share of spectacular plays, but they have committed 33 errors in their last 38 games after making 32 errors in their first 73 games.
“Defense is an asset on this club,” Manager Mike Scioscia said with a hint of defiance. “We’re confident they’re going to make the plays to support our pitching. Today we didn’t get it done. We played a poor game. You have to turn the page.”
Had the Angels turned a double play on Alex Rodriguez’s eighth-inning grounder, they would have begun the ninth inning in a 9-9 tie and not down by five runs.
Teixeira had followed a walk to Reggie Willits (his fourth of the game), a single by Chone Figgins (his fourth hit) and a walk to Erick Aybar in the eighth by stroking his first home run as an Angel into the right-field bleachers for a 9-8 lead.
“That was big, especially since I didn’t come through earlier in the game,” Teixeira said. “I was beating myself up because I missed a few pitches I should have hit. I wanted one more shot, and I got it in the eighth.”
Shields gave up a single to Ivan Rodriguez to start the eighth inning, and with pinch-runner Justin Christian moving on a full-count pitch, Melky Cabrera hit a chopper toward the second base bag.
Instead of going for a sure out at first, it appeared Aybar tried to field the ball and step on the bag in hopes of starting a double play. The shortstop got no one, bobbling an in-between hop for an error that put runners on first and second.
Christian and Cabrera pulled off a double steal, and catcher Jeff Mathis’ throw to third base got by Figgins, who wasn’t in position to make a play. Christian scored on the error for a 9-9 tie, and Cabrera took third.
With the infield in, Jeter grounded out to short, Johnny Damon taking second. Bobby Abreu walked to load the bases and Alex Rodriguez followed with a grounder to third that should have ended the inning.
But Figgins, after fielding the ball to his left, lost his grip on the glove-to-hand exchange, and the ball dropped for an error that allowed Cabrera to score for a 10-9 lead.
Shields was visibly upset, throwing his right arm violently toward the ground in frustration. Asked afterward whether he thought he had induced a double-play grounder, he said, “I’m not going to talk about that.”
Left-hander Darren Oliver replaced Shields and gave up a two-run single to Robinson Cano, a run-scoring single to Xavier Nady, who had a career-high six runs batted in, and a run-scoring single to Christian.
The Angels, who staked ace John Lackey to a 5-0 lead on Garret Anderson’s two-run single in the first inning, Aybar’s run-scoring single in the second and Aybar’s two-run double in the fourth, gave up 14 runs in the final four innings.
The 10 unearned runs matched a franchise record set May 31, 1978, when the Angels gave up 10 unearned runs in a 17-2 loss at Chicago.
“You think about things you could have done differently, plays you could have made,” Matthews said. “That stings.”
Matthews, starting in place of Torii Hunter, who was in Arkansas for the funeral of his grandmother, thought he had “a good bead” on Jeter’s seventh-inning drive, “but I just didn’t come up with it.”
Abreu followed with a run-scoring single that made it 5-5, Rodriguez singled, and Nady, who hit a two-run double against Lackey in the sixth inning, lined a three-run homer to left field for an 8-5 lead.
“Sometimes they have days when it doesn’t matter how many you score, they’re going to score more,” Teixeira said of the Yankees. “Today was one of those days.”