08/02/08 8:19 PM ET
Angels' winning streak snapped in NY
Weaver struggles, gives up four home runs in loss to Yankees
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Or perhaps it was because the Yankees simply got tired of getting pushed around by those bullies from Southern California.
Whatever the cause, the effect was impressive. Acting like the Bronx Bombers of yore, the Yankees unloaded four homers against Jered Weaver on Saturday, snapping the Angels' five-game winning streak with an 8-2 decision in front of 54,170 at Yankee Stadium.
Wilson Betemit's two-run homer in the second inning started the uprising against Weaver, who dropped to 9-9 with the loss while Mike Mussina (14-7) was handcuffing the high-flying Angels across seven innings, holding them to two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks, striking out five.
Bobby Abreu, former Angel Jose Molina and Alex Rodriguez also went deep after Betemit opened the floodgates. From Abreu and A-Rod, the long ball is expected. Not so from Molina and Betemit.
"One of those days, I guess," said Weaver, who'd yielded just one homer in his previous six starts and 12 in 21 outings. "A couple of them were good pitches, and they put some good swings on them. It looked like they were sitting on them a few times."
For Molina, who had a pair of singles to go with his first homer of the season and scored three times to match a career high, it was especially sweet.
"It's always good when you play against your old team and do some damage," said Molina, dealt at midseason last year to the Yankees. "It feels good to beat your old team, especially after they won the first two games."
Molina said it was no benefit having familiarity with Weaver, who said he left a slider in a zone that enabled his former teammate to lift it into the left-field fence to lead off the fifth inning.
"I hardly ever caught him -- only once," Molina said. "I knew what he throws. That was a hanging slider, I think."
Another kind of familiarity was at work with Mark Teixeira and Mussina, the ace of the Orioles staff when the new Angels' first baseman was a kid from Annapolis, Md., with a love of the game.
"I watched him in Baltimore a lot," said Teixeira, hitless in two at-bats with a walk against Mussina. "This guy was one of the best pitchers of the era. He was a different pitcher then. He threw harder, struck out a lot more guys. I enjoyed watching him as a kid, but I don't necessarily enjoy facing him.
"He throws five pitches -- two-seam fastball, cutter, slider, curveball, changeup. When he has command of all five, he's going to be tough to hit. If you sit back and let him dictate the count and use all his pitches, you're going to find yourself down 0-2, 1-2 a lot."
If Mussina is at the age when craft comes into play more than velocity, Weaver is still learning himself, his strengths, how to maximize them while minimizing damage.
"I thought Jered had good stuff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He didn't make too many mistakes, but the ones he made they didn't miss. He goes after hitters. That's a tough lineup over there. It's not going to be forgiving for some mistakes."
Like Teixeira, Scioscia has seen the change in Mussina as he reaches his sunset years, athletically.
"When he was young and his arm had more velocity and he had great command of all his pitches," Scioscia said, "that's why he was a perennial Cy Young Award candidate."
Without the "fuzz" of his premium heater, the manager added, Mussina now relies on wisdom and command of his repertoire to get hitters out.
Weaver had come out smoking, striking out the first four men he faced. But the Yankees were fouling off pitches and making him work.
After Abreu stroked a solo homer in the third, Molina joined the party in the fifth with his first homer in 221 at-bats, going back to Sept. 5, 2007, against the Mariners.
It was A-Rod's turn next, leading off the sixth with No. 24 for the season and No. 542 in his career.
With torrid Torii Hunter in Pine Bluff, Ark., attending the funeral of his grandmother, the Angels scored twice in the second inning in large part because his replacement in center field -- Gary Matthews Jr. -- broke up a potential inning-ending double play on Jeff Mathis' ground ball.
Garret Anderson, who'd singled, and Howie Kendrick, who'd doubled, both scored. Kendrick's run was unearned because of second baseman Wilson Betemit's throwing error after getting crunched at second by Matthews. Anderson, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, and Kendrick, with two hits, accounted for all the Angels' offense.
Settling into a groove after yielding the two runs, Mussina retired the final 16 men he faced. Jose Veras, striking out the side in the eight, and Brian Bruney finished up.
Weaver gave way to Justin Speier without getting an out in the fifth inning, having yielded six runs on eight hits. The four homers allowed matched his career high against the Mariners on Aug. 29, 2006.
Molina's third hit, Derek Jeter's RBI single and a force on Abreu's grounder added a pair of Yankees runs in the seventh.
After finishing July with a fireworks display in Boston, the Angels' offense has fizzled the past two games, generating just three runs.
"We've been scoring so many runs lately, the law of averages is going to catch up to you," Teixeira said. "We faced two pretty good pitchers [Sidney Ponson and Mussina] the last couple days and nothing really happened."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.