05/26/07 12:58 AM ET
Pitchers struggle, Yanks fall to Halos
Wildness from the mound, missed chances hurt Bombers
By Caleb Breakey / MLB.com
Well, since the Yankees are considered the arc of the baseball universe, about 50,363 fans at Yankee Stadium would disagree with the philosopher's statement after watching their pitchers get knocked around on Friday in a 10-6 loss to the Angels -- all because of wildness from the mound.
"If there was one common denominator, it was a lack of command tonight," manager Joe Torre said.
The six walks (two intentional) were one thing, but for the most part, starter Tyler Clippard and those who followed just didn't throw quality pitches.
Pitchers in pinstripes threw three wild pitches -- and another two made it to the backstop with no one on base -- by the sixth inning, a small sampling of how many pitches missed their mark against an Angels lineup that pounded 14 hits. Torre pulled Clippard before the start of the fifth, just 76 pitches into his evening.
"He just didn't look like he could find one release point -- that's the reason," Torre said. "He only threw  pitches, but he had to work hard the whole time and just couldn't find it."
Clippard regularly hit Jorge Posada's mitt high in the strike zone, especially with fastballs. And as Torre said, when a pitcher does that against the Angels, "this ballclub will beat your brains out."
The early exit came to the right-hander's surprise. Clippard said that he felt much more comfortable in Yankee Stadium than he did in his first Major League start last Sunday, when he three-hit the Mets at Shea Stadium. But that didn't stop Torre from making his usual slow walk to the mound to replace the 22-year-old rookie.
"I want the ball when I feel like I have more in me," Clippard said. "Obviously, I'm frustrated, but I'm frustrated when I get taken out of any game."
Matt DeSalvo, another rookie, took over in the fifth -- sort of. He didn't record an out while giving up two hits, two walks and three runs, and uncorking a wild pitch.
But Torre and the staff are keeping faith in both right-handers, as DeSalvo and Clippard are expected to make starts when the team travels to Toronto next week. Torre wanted to give DeSalvo another chance because he hadn't pitched since May 17 against the White Sox, not to mention it was his first stint as a reliever.
Though that might be some consolation to DeSalvo, he wants to get back onto the mound. And fast.
"I want the ball," DeSalvo said. "It's something that I need to do to prove to the team, and everyone else, and more so for myself."
Before the game, Torre recalled how Angels starter Jered Weaver had beaten the Yankees in his only career start against them last season. Torre said that the right-hander shared similarities to his older brother, Jeff, whom the Yankees roughed up in an 8-1 victory earlier this month.
But the younger Weaver proved tougher than his big brother on Friday, striking out five and surrendering three runs in five innings. Still, Angels manager Mike Scioscia noted how the Yankees made Weaver work, stretching him to 105 pitches in his shortest outing since April 23, when he gave up five earned runs to the Tigers in 1 2/3 innings.
"Jered was struggling and fighting to repeat his pitches," Scioscia said. "They're patient, they wait for counts and they can all drive the ball. He was out of gas."
When Alex Rodriguez, who went deep in the second inning for his league-leading 19th homer, grounded out to shortstop to end the game, however, the Yankees knew that too many opportunities had been wasted, as the Yankees went 4-for-12 with men in scoring position.
But Derek Jeter, who extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a seventh-inning single, doesn't feel as though the team is back into a funk, especially coming off a series win against the Red Sox.
"It's [not] like, 'Here we go again,' " Jeter said. "It's not like it's the end of the world that we lost. I felt like the intensity level was there. We just got beat."
Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.