Moving day for Palmer

The tale of the tape did not favor the Angels in Saturday's CC Sabathia-vs-Matt Palmer matchup.

The New York Yankees ace was the bigger man, the 6-foot-7, 300-pound Sabathia towering over the 6-2, 225-pound Palmer.

Sabathia had the more impressive resume, a 118-75 career record and 2007 American League Cy Young award compared to Palmer's four big league starts.

And Sabathia had the fatter wallet, the left-hander's $23-million salary for 2009 dwarfing that of Palmer, who makes the major league minimum of $400,000.

Score one for the underdog.

Palmer went chin-to-chest -- but toe-to-toe -- with Sabathia, outdueling baseball's highest-paid pitcher to lead the Angels to an 8-4 victory in Yankee Stadium.

Palmer, a Missouri State University horticulture major who almost quit baseball three years ago to go into the landscape business, gave up one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings to improve to 2-0 and end the Angels' two-game losing streak.

Sabathia (1-3) gave up five runs -- four earned -- and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"Unbelievable," Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said of Palmer, a succinct and accurate summation of what transpired in the Bronx.

Relying on the natural movement of his four-seam fastball, the 30-year-old right-hander, after giving up a run in the first inning, retired 14 consecutive batters from the first through fifth innings.

With the score tied, 1-1, Derek Jeter on third and one out in the sixth, Palmer got Mark Teixeira to fly to shallow center, Jeter holding, and struck out Hideki Matsui to end the inning.

The Angels then rallied for four runs in the seventh, Kendrick ending the tie with a run-scoring infield single, Torii Hunter lining a two-run double off the left-field wall and Mike Napoli hitting an RBI single to left-center.

"We knew it was in him to do this -- it was a matter of him getting confidence and trusting what his ball can do," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Palmer. "Hopefully, this is the start of a change in his career, because he has good stuff. Movement is what his real talent is."

Palmer failed to harness that movement after finally reaching the big leagues with San Francisco last August; he went 0-2 with an 8.53 earned-run average in three starts, walking 13 and striking out three in 12 2/3 innings.

But that didn't scare off the Angels, who signed Palmer as a minor league free agent in January and plugged him into their rotation after Darren Oliver suffered a triceps strain in late April.

Palmer beat Detroit in his first start April 23, and after being skipped in the rotation because of last Monday's off day, he stifled a Yankees lineup that scored 36 runs in its previous four games.

"Instead of trying to nit-pick, I'm going right after hitters," Palmer said. "That's something Scioscia and [pitching coach Mike] Butcher have been pushing on me.

"I always felt I could do this; I needed the right opportunity and the right chance."

Palmer played tourist when the Angels arrived in New York on Thursday, taking pictures of the Yankees' new $1.5-billion stadium. But he did not ask for a game ball or lineup card as a memento of his first game -- and win -- in Yankee Stadium.

"Just the feeling -- you always have memories," Palmer said, when asked what he took from the game. "I don't believe in souvenirs and all that. From here on out, it's about competing and trying to stay here and showing the coaches and the staff and the team that I belong here."

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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