"Yankees fall to Angels." I think that's a Word Macro.

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I managed to get through high school and college without ever having to take Calculus. I'm chemically dependent on sour gummy bears and have gone my whole life without a cavity. I've never seen a single minute of Star Wars, don't eat seafood, haven't read The DaVinci Code, and don't separate my whites from the colors when I do laundry...and have managed to sidestep all of these and still lead a fairly cursive life retain my health.

And I think the Yankees are gonna have to do the same with the Angels. Because it doesn't look like they can make any more sense of them than I can of Calculus. So rather than kill myself over trying to conquer it, I just called a spade a spade, and made do without it. I'd love for them to beat the Angels as much as the next fan, but for some reason--some callously inexplicable reason--the Yankees cannot get a handle on Anaheim.

So it looks like they may have to just take their regular season diploma and head into the real world playoffs sans Calc credits.

What is it about the Angels? I don't get it. At all. They're good, but not THAT good. Not that good that the Yankees should be this significantly dominated by them. Their pitching is hit or miss. Their fielding is decent but no iron curtain. Technically they are not a better team than the Yankees. But of course, this is immaterial since the "better" team is completely neutralized against them.

The Yanks lost to the Halos tonight 5-2, making it the 2,012,984th time in a row 18th time in 23 games they've been defeated in that stadium. Andy Pettitte didn't look too sharp in the first when he gave up back to back doubles to Vlad and Torii Hunter, but the guy did just come off a week's rest. I'm useless the first day back at the office after a vacation, too. So I was neither surprised nor alarmed, especially when he then settled down and only let up 2 hits thereafter. I'll take it.

Pettitte gets pulled after 91 pitches, and mainly we were all less concerned about him and more concerned about Rick Vaughn Brian Bruney trotting out of the bullpen. The YES booth gives due time to noting his "mid-season number change," and I actually have to laugh a little about it because the reason Bruney went with 99 is because "88 looked too much like a wide receiver."

I'm not sure I understand this logic, since I'm pretty sure Bruney has a better chance of being mistaken for a wide receiver than he does a pitcher. To be sure, the new number did approximately zero in terms of changing his output: 16 pitches, 2 hits, 1 run. I have no idea what Girardi sees in him, but I feel sputtering over this issue will be as fruitless as trying to understand what people see in buttercream.

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As I noted before, the Angels' offense is not terrifyingly intimidating. They're excellent, but the Yanks are stacked just as much, if not more. I guess you don't have to be inspiring the fear of God when you're playing a team that only scores two. They hit the ball deep, though, and in the outfield holes. Which ultimately was all they needed. It was simple:

Put a runner on, siphon him to 3rd within seconds, hit an extra base hit to bring him home. Formulaic and effective, and it worked like a well-oiled machine for not only Vlad and Hunter, but also Erick Aybar and Juan Rivera, whose well-placed hits all drove in runners.

The Yanks' offensive strategy wasn't as...well, existent. Unlike yesterday, when I absolved the icy bats and assigned the blame to our "starter," (Girardi's term, not mine), this game is on the offense, not defense. The Yanks were 0-3 with RISP. Hm. 0 for 3. I can't even think about those numbers right now without getting a headache.

I could understand if they were facing Halladay. That's it. But going up against a guy they should be teeing off on, who's far from overpowering and even farther from unhittable, this team was, quite simply, entirely too overanxious.

Joe Saunders doesn't have a strike out pitch per se, so he relies predominantly on the batter's penchant for chasing his pitches. Which the Yanks did. This is a guy who masks his weakly controlled slider and fastball with a thick layer of off-speed change-ups. The Yankees should have had bruises on their shoulders by game's end, from leaving the bat sitting atop it.

At the start of the 8th inning, Saunders had thrown 84 pitches. The Yankees were jumping all over him, and they worst part is, when they let him throw more than 2 pitches, he more often than not started to nibble. But despite this, the only batters who were working the count were Melky and Molina.

The cumulative offensive efforts consisted mainly of the old Yankee style: go yard in the end of the game with random solo shots but then fall short. Which is the natural conclusion when you don't hit for the 7 innings prior. Tonight the proverbial dings came from ARod and Hideki, giving fans some flickering excitement, only for it to be extinguished when Cano stranded 2 runners with the game-ending groundout.

I don't mind a loss, it's gonna happen. What I do mind is seeing habits like this re-emerge, the types of traits that dissolved the team cohesion and engendered desperate and fragmented discord. The Yankees are the most formidable when they're spreading base hits throughout the lineup, throughout the game. Not with a staccato sampling of slugging.

The only glimmer of "not-completely-awful" was the fact the Royals rallied to beat Boston 12-9. Which means here's where we're at:

5 games up on the Sox
4.5 games up on Anaheim
8: Magic number to clinch division
1: Magic number to clinch playoff berth

So there are two options. Either beat them, or learn to get around them. But pick one because at least then there's a plan. And nothing placates the nerves like a to-do list, a neatly delineated rotation, and the assurance that everything will be fine in October.


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