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Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Angels 6, Yankees 4: Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

The Angels blew a 4-1 lead, but rallied against -- of all people -- Mariano Rivera to beat the New York Yankees 6-4 at Yankee Stadium and keep their playoff hopes alive and well.

The Good:

Bobby Abreu. For more than a month, he lived in the "bad" section on this blog. Why?  No reason other than the fact he was hitting .155 since July 1. Perhaps reports of his decline were greatly exaggerated. Abreu drove two home runs over the right-field wall to provide half the Angels' offense. The second one -- a two-run shot -- came off Rivera, who looked stunned. It was just the second home run Rivera has allowed this season.

Torii Hunter. It's vital that the middle-of-the-order veterans start producing and Hunter has been doing that since the calendar flipped to August. He had three more hits to follow a blazing homestand. Hunter is 15-for-28 so far this month. Don't worry that only a couple of those hits went for extra bases. The Angels just need action in their lineup and Hunter has produced it -- perhaps by cutting down his swing?

Dan Haren. It wasn't technically a quality start, but it would have been if Fernando Rodney hadn't let both inherited runners score by falling behind Derek Jeter and then grooving a fastball. Haren dominated the Yankees until the seventh inning and pitched plenty well enough for the team to win.

The Bad:

Rodney. If the Angels fall short, you can blame the front office for not landing one of the many bullpen arms that wound up switching teams at the trade deadline. Aside from Jordan Walden and Scott Downs, no Angels reliever has been reliable, or even close. In the clutch, Rodney doesn't look like a viable third option.

Vernon Wells. Mike Scioscia bowed to a mounting tide of evidence and slid Wells down to the No. 6 spot, moving leading run producer Mark Trumbo in front of him at No. 5. Wells is 3 for his last 24 and only one of those hits went for extra bases. A month ago, he was in a nice groove, but not now.

Howie Kendrick. No sweeping generalizations here. He's been one of the Angels' best hitters -- maybe the best pure hitter on the team -- but he had a really tough night: 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.