Yankees outslug Angels in opener
A-Rod hits career homer No. 493 to lead 19-hit attack
NEW YORK -- Two runs forward, one run back.
Friday's bout between the Yankees and Angels, a pitchers' massacre amped up by 31 hits, went back and forth until the Yankees struck the Halos with a three-run blow in the sixth inning to win, 14-9.
"We had to battle," Jorge Posada said. "It's just one of those days that you try to keep going, and they keep coming."
Andy Pettitte and Bartolo Colon combined to give up 17 hits and 15 runs in seven-plus innings at Yankee Stadium, as crooked numbers kept flashing up on the scoreboard.
The Yankees scored six, the Angels scored two. Yankees scored one, Angels scored four -- on and on it went.
"They never shut what they do down," manager Joe Torre said. "They could be down by five or 10 runs, but they're still going to steal bases and do things because that's the type of club they are. They're very aggressive."
Every player in the Yankees lineup recorded an RBI. Posada and Alex Rodriguez -- who hit his 29th home run of the season, a two-run shot that gave him 493 for his career and tied him with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 22nd place on baseball's all-time list -- combined to go 6-for-9 and rack up five RBIs.
Even Miguel Cairo, who didn't know he would be starting at first base until after batting practice concluded because regular first baseman Andy Phillips had a stiff neck, finished the game with a suicide squeeze and a triple-turned-single.
Explanation: With Posada on third and Robinson Cano on first, Cairo ripped a pitch into the left-center field gap. Posada scored easily and Cano followed, but third-base umpire Doug Eddings said Cano didn't touch third base while attempting to score. That sent Cairo back to first and cost the Yankees a run.
Torre didn't get a good look at the play, and Cano said he wasn't in a position to argue, even though he said he touched the bag.
"He already made the call," Cano said. "If I said anything back, he can't do anything about it. I was already out."
As for the Yankees' pitching, Torre said he wasn't sure what went wrong for Pettitte. But the skipper never budged in his faith in the left-hander. Shortly after the final out, Torre announced that Pettitte will start the first game of the second half for the Yankees.
"I don't worry about it," Torre said. "He's going to have some time off now, and he'll start the second half on Thursday, and we'll expect what we usually expect from him -- quality starts."
Pettitte might have been trying too hard, Posada said. Perhaps even pressing in an attempt to resole his Cy Young-established arm, which took an eight-run beating in 1 2/3 innings against Oakland in his last start.
The real culprit that yanked the 35-year-old from the game in the fifth was probably his cutter, which Posada said consistently stayed up in the strike zone for the Angels' offense.
Leaning on his locker, Pettitte raised his eyebrows and spoke softly while answering questions after the game. He said he was embarrassed about the way he's pitched in his past two starts.
"Thank goodness we won, that's all I can say," he said. "I don't know what I'm doing. It would be nice to be able to tell you what I was doing and this and that. ... I scratched my head asking Jorge if my ball is staying on the same plane or whatever."
The one imposing pitching line of the night came by the right arm of Yankees reliever Scott Proctor, who threw the ball better than he has this season, according to Posada.
Proctor, who struck out three in 1 2/3 scoreless innings, said he'd been pressing himself of late. He said the funk he's been in prompted him to throw harder, get tougher. He even burned his glove at one point. But pitching coach Ron Guidry told him less was better. Apparently, Proctor said, Gator was right.
The turnaround couldn't have come at a better time, as the Yankees (41-42) push to reach the .500 mark before the All-Star break.
"We need that arm," Posada said. "He understands that. He's been trying a bit too hard at times, and today he took it easy and we had good results."
Through all the hits and runs, Edwar Ramirez came away with his first Major League win. And after the game, Torre couldn't find the right-hander to give him the lineup card. Ramirez had gone to the Yankees' weight room for more work.
Eventually, they dragged the 26-year-old back into the clubhouse and gave him the lineup card and the game ball.
"Joe called me," Ramirez said with a grin. "I'm coming back."
Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.