Angels are tough around the edges
On the same day they lost the heart of their order, No. 3 hitter Torii Hunter and cleanup batter Vladimir Guerrero, to the disabled list, the Angels showed they still have a pulse.
Facing a club that had won 13 of 15 games, the Angels rode three-run home runs by Kendry Morales and No. 9 batter Erick Aybar to a 10-6 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night.
“It’s a funny lineup,” closer Brian Fuentes, who struck out Jorge Posada with two on to end the ninth inning for his major league-leading 25th save, said of the Angels.
“You look at it from top to bottom, and it doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of power. But there are .280 to .300 hitters all the way through, we get hits when we need them, we move guys over, and we play the game right.”
For the third time on this homestand, the Angels overcame a four-run deficit to win.
Morales’ shot off starter Joba Chamberlain highlighted a four-run fifth that tied the score, 5-5, and Aybar’s poke just inside the right-field foul pole off reliever Brian Bruney in the seventh turned a 7-6 lead into a 10-6 game.
“We have some depth, and we’ve needed all of it this year,” said Manager Mike Scioscia, whose team has used the DL 13 times this season. “Those are two big bats out of the lineup, but we have guys who have a lot of confidence that they’re going to produce.”
They may be without three big bats today. Juan Rivera, who is hitting .312 with 16 home runs and 52 runs batted in and replaced Guerrero in the cleanup spot, was pulled in the eighth inning because of tightness in his left quadriceps and right hamstring.
Rivera reached on third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s throwing error in the fifth but tripped and fell beyond the bag. He played two more innings before tightening up, and he is listed as day to day.
The Angels were trailing, 5-1, after another subpar start by Joe Saunders, who gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings, but Chone Figgins led off the fifth with a single and stole second, and Bobby Abreu hit a run-scoring single.
After Rivera reached on the error, Morales crushed the next pitch over the wall in center for his 15th homer and a 5-5 tie.
Aybar led off the sixth with a single off reliever Mark Melancon, and Figgins lined an RBI triple to right for a 6-5 lead. Abreu’s broken-bat RBI single to center made it 7-5.
The Yankees pulled to within 7-6 in the seventh when Mark Teixeira, the former Angel who was booed loudly before each at-bat, singled, Robinson Cano singled with two outs and Melky Cabrera capped an 11-pitch at-bat with an RBI single.
Kevin Jepsen walked Posada to load the bases, and left-hander Darren Oliver came on to face pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui, who sent a towering fly ball to right field that Abreu caught on the warning track to end the inning.
Lost amid the Angels’ 13-hit attack was another shaky start by Saunders, whose first pitch was hit so sharply up the middle by Derek Jeter that the Angel Stadium radar gun clocked the liner at 105 mph. The ball was headed right for the Angels left-hander’s face before Saunders ducked out of the way, his body contorting as he almost fell off the mound.
He never seemed to regain his bearings. The Yankees tagged him for three runs and three hits in the first and single runs in the second and fifth.
Saunders, an All-Star in 2008, has been roughed up for 18 runs and 22 hits, including seven home runs, in 14 innings of his last three starts.
He gave up Rodriguez’s RBI double and Nick Swisher’s two-run single in the first. Johnny Damon hit an RBI single in the second, and Rodriguez hit a solo home run in the fifth, the 21st home run -- most in the league -- Saunders has given up.
That’s how many home runs Saunders allowed all last year in 31 starts.
Saunders opened the season with a 5-1 record and 2.66 earned-run average in seven starts. Since then, he is 3-4 with a 6.09 ERA in 11 starts.
“He says he’s healthy, and he feels confident in his stuff,” pitching coach Mike Butcher said. “The biggest thing is he’s behind in counts. When you’re 2-1 and 3-1, you have to use more of the plate to get back into counts.”