Yanks have night to forget
Pavano, bullpen struggle; Rodriguez involved in scuffle
ANAHEIM -- The fighting spirit the Yankees have been looking for all month finally arrived in the sixth inning on Monday, but not in the form they wanted.
As Pudge Rodriguez and Torii Hunter engaged in a shoving match that spilled both benches and bullpens across the field at Angel Stadium, it encompassed most of what the Yankees mustered for another disappointing effort. The dual-ejection incident highlighted a big inning for the Angels as they rolled to an easy 12-1 victory.
Afterward, Yankees manager Joe Girardi rocked on his heels and admitted that he didn't mind watching the display of raw emotion from his club, which has all but fallen out of contention for the postseason. The Yankees are 9 1/2 games behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card with 18 games left to play, and almost sheepishly, Girardi admitted, "I like fight."
"It's not something that you want to see, but it's emotion," Girardi said. "It's Pudge showing emotion and I'm OK with that. Emotion is a good thing. It's baseball -- boys being boys."
Tempers flared, highlighting the Angels' six-run frame, after Hunter stole a pair of bases on Rodriguez, moving to third base. Mike Napoli hit a tapper to third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who tossed home to the catcher, who tagged out Hunter on a hard play as the outfielder came in elbows high.
Hunter stepped on a bat, which may have pushed him in Rodriguez's direction. The two appeared to tap each other before Rodriguez -- walking toward the mound -- jabbed at Hunter, striking his body. Hunter charged Rodriguez and gave him a two-handed shove in the back, setting off an incident that lasted several minutes.
"It's part of the game and it happens," Rodriguez said. "He came hard on me and hit me up. I didn't do anything. He just grabbed me from behind."
Rodriguez said that he was displeased that Hunter hit him from behind, and also that he came in hard on what was not a bang-bang play at the plate. But Girardi disagreed with his catcher, saying that he would have gone in hard and tried to knock the ball from the glove.
"In 18 years in baseball, I never fight, so I'm not a fighter. I compete and I compete hard. Sometimes when you compete hard, things like that happen. I'm sure that Torii Hunter is the same way."
Both Hunter and Rodriguez were ejected, and Brandon Wood's single -- part of a two-homer, three-RBI night -- soon chased home two runs and capped the damage as the Angels batted 10 in the frame and, as Girardi said, allowed the game to get out of hand.
It was the sort of offensive showing that the Yankees have not seen quite enough of in an inconsistent campaign that will, in all likelihood, end their streak of 13 consecutive postseason appearances.
The Yankees got to right-hander Jon Garland for a run the first inning, but that would be all they managed, leaving the bases loaded. Johnny Damon opened with a single and moved to second on a walk before coming around on Alex Rodriguez's RBI single, but Garland stopped the damage there and held New York off the board for the next six innings.
"We're not scoring. That's pretty much it," Derek Jeter said. "We had chances there in the first inning and I thought we should have come out with a little bit more than one run. It didn't happen, and after that, we didn't get anything."
Making his fourth start since coming back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, Pavano was charged with five runs over 5 1/3 innings, including two home runs. Pavano surrendered a homer to Wood leading off the third inning to stake the Angels to a 2-0 lead, and Sean Rodriguez connected for a homer to open the sixth inning.
Pavano also allowed a first-inning sacrifice fly to Mark Teixiera and exited after a run-scoring Teixiera groundout in the sixth inning. Dan Giese came on and surrendered a long two-run homer to Vladimir Guerrero, opening up a 6-1 advantage for the Angels, and Edwar Ramirez -- twice released by the Angels -- later was roughed up for three runs in two-thirds of an inning.
"These guys grind you out," Pavano said. "They've got a lot of power, and they get guys over. That's a tough team. The ball got up later in the game, and obviously I wasn't able to repeat my execution. I just wasn't making the pitches I wanted to make."
There was a warmer note. While the Yankees bullpen was being routed, Hunter knocked on the door of the visiting clubhouse and asked for Rodriguez. The two greeted and apologized to each other, shaking hands and finishing their conversation with a hug.
"Torii is a nice guy," Rodriguez said. "Everything was OK, we apologized to each other. That's professional of myself and he is a very professional player."
Peace had been made, although it likely will not be enough to stave off suspensions for a pair of players on different paths -- Hunter, as part of an Angels team on cruise control to the postseason, and Rodriguez on a Yankees club playing out the string until the schedule's end.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.