ANAHEIM -- After the chaos of last night's game, this one was almost too quiet for seven innings until, like last night, things got a little hectic in the eighth. And when the smoke cleared, the Yankees had what they desperately needed, a dramatic 4-3 victory and a terrific performance from a starting pitcher they were depending on to be one of the anchors of their rotation.
Now, rather than facing a possible sweep, the Yankees can actually come to the park tomorrow hoping to win a series here.
For Brian out loud!: Just when it appeared the Yankees were headed for a heartbreaking defeat, Brian Roberts -- who had not homered since last Sept. 28 while a member of the Baltimore Orioles -- belted the first pitch he saw, a 94 MPH fastball, from Ernesto Frieri into the right-field stands to give the Yankees a 4-3 with two out in the ninth inning.
Second-guesser's heaven: Should Derek Jeter have broken from third without seeing Mark Teixeira's grounder go through the infield? Should Girardi have left Hiroki Kuroda in to face Mike Trout? Should Shawn Kelley have pitched around Albert Pujols? Should Kelley have been in the game at all?
All legitimate questions.
Hiro's return: Hiroki Kuroda turned in his best performance of the season -- 7 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R (1 ER), 1 BB and 8 Ks -- but Girardi may have left him in one hitter too long, allowing him to face Trout with two out in the eighth. After a 9-pitch duel, Trout tripled off the top of the right-field fence -- he missed tying the game by no more than a foot -- forcing Girardi to bring in Kelley to face Pujols, who singled in the tying run to deprive Kuroda of a victory.
Still, it was encouraging to see Kuroda return to form, especially after the last time he faced the Angels, when he allowed six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings on April 25. Without an effective Kuroda, the Yankees can't win. Period.
Captain gaffe: A rare baserunning blunder by Jeter may have cost the Yankees a crucial run in the top of the eighth when, with runners on first and third and no out, Jeter broke for home on Teixeira's grounder to third baseman Ian Stewart, who fired home to trap Jeter in a rundown before Carlos Beltran could get to third. Beltran wound up scoring on Alfonso Soriano's single, but had Jeter held, the Yankees might have gotten two runs in the inning and taken a 4-2 lead.
Rare occurrence: The Yankees showed something they haven't shown in a quite a while, the ability to get a timely hit, when Brian Roberts followed singles by Yangervis Solarte and Brett Gardner with an RBI single to center, bringing in the Yankees first run of the game in the fifth inning. They couldn't manage another one in the inning -- the next hitter, Jacoby Ellsbury, bounced into a double play -- but if a DP can be called timely, this one was, because it allowed the tying run to score.
O Solo mio!: The Angels got on the board with two runs, both unearned, in the third, with a big assist from Yangervis Solarte, who made a good running play to field Collin Cowgill's bunt, but then threw the ball away, putting Angels at second and third with none out. Two sacrifice flies later, the Angels had a 2-0 lead. Solarte easily could have had a second error on Albert Pujols' grounder off his glove in the first inning, but it was scored a base hit. Somewhere, Eduardo Nunez is giggling.
Trout fishing: Kuroda got into two-out trouble in the bottom of the fifth when Cowgill and Erick Aybar singled, putting runners at the corners, and the dangerous Mike Trout and Pujols scheduled to bat. But Kuroda got ahead of Trout, 0-2, and then put him away with a 1-2 splitter that bounced in the dirt.