Angels salvage needed win against Yankees

BY foxsports • July 15, 2012

As we said, it's going to be a grind for the Angels in the second half -- all the way into October.
The series they just completed against the New York Yankees proves it. Salvaging one game of their three-game set at Yankee Stadium must have seemed like a relief.
You could almost feel the Angels heave a collective sigh after right-hander Kevin Jepsen – not Ernesto Frieri or Scott Downs – secured the final out of the game to save a 10-8 victory. A game that should have ended routinely had an edge-of-your-seat finish.
Better get used to it. The Angels now head to Detroit to face a Tigers team that has won seven of eight games and is in pursuit of the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central. At least they won't have to face Justin Verlander, who shut out the Baltimore Orioles over eight innings Sunday.
The Angels needed every one of their 10 runs against the Yankees, who were losing by five in the bottom of the ninth but still were able to put the winning run on base before Jepsen got Alex Rodriguez to pop out, ending the game. The save was the first for Jepsen this season and only the second of his career.
This is the same Jepsen who was pitching at Triple-A Salt Lake as recently as July 4 before being promoted. Frieri and Downs, the best one-two bullpen punch in baseball before the All-Star break, had already tried and failed to close out the game.
Frieri hadn't given up a run since coming to LA in the May 3 trade with the San Diego Padres; he gave up three without retiring a batter Sunday. And Downs, who had yielded just one run in the first half, surrendered four Friday night and struggled again on Sunday, giving up a bases-loaded walk before Jepsen saved the day.
"I'm human," Frieri told reporters after the game, according to "I knew that was going to happen. I always tell myself and say ‘God, please, whenever I give up a run, don't let that run cost us the game,' and that was exactly what happened. This is not just about me, it's about winning, and we won."
Reason to worry? It might just be that Frieri and Downs were too well-rested following the four-day All-Star break. Frieri, who hadn't pitched in a week, was overthrowing the ball and failing to control his fastball, walking Robinson Cano to open the ninth before Mark Teixeira homered.
The win was the 11th for starter Jered Weaver, who gave up three home runs in a game for the first time since Aug. 13, 2011, to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Yankees lead the majors with 142 home runs, but the Angels kept pace in the game, getting four of their own – one each from Erick Aybar, Albert Pujols, Maicer Izturis and Mark Trumbo.
They didn't exactly leap out of the box to start the second half of the season. They have issues, one of whom is right-hander Ervin Santana, who starts Monday at Detroit. Manager Mike Scioscia hasn't announced his starter for Tuesday, but it's likely to be right-hander Garrett Richards, who pitched well for the team in his recent call-up before flopping in his two most recent starts.
Reliever Jordan Walden was placed on the disabled list because of a biceps strain, joining starter Dan Haren (back stiffness), and now Frieri and Downs have returned to earth after their stratospheric starts.
Without question, Scioscia isn't losing faith in his late-inning relievers, but then, he can't afford to. He sent Downs back out there two days after his Friday night meltdown. He'll do the same with Frieri.
"We need Ernie," he said. "He's been having a sensational year for us. He'll get right back on that horse with his next opportunity."
Chances are, it will come in Detroit.

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