Bullpen falters in Yanks' loss

Bullpen falters in Yanks' loss

ANAHEIM -- Once upon a time, in the happiest ballpark on Earth, Dan Giese was the main character in this Yankees fairy tale. And it was a fairy tale. Pitching in front of dozens of family and friends in his California home, Giese positively shined.

But it did not last, and there was no happy ending. The Angels ensured that much, jumping on Giese's relief and turning a storybook victory into an 11-4 Yankees loss.

"You feel terrible," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The kid pitched great. He's done nothing but what we've asked him to do."

Not that effort will change what happened between Giese's final pitch and the game's final out. The Yankees were enjoying the benefits of a two-run lead in the seventh inning, when Garrett Anderson blasted a solo homer off Jose Veras to put the Angels back within one.

Three batters later, Mike Napoli hit a solo homer of his own. The game was tied, Giese's win was lost, and the pro-Giese contingent let out a collective groan.

Had they known exactly how this fairy tale was about to transform into an Angel Stadium nightmare, Giese's fans might even have screamed.

Edwar Ramirez entered the following inning and allowed all five Angels he faced to reach base, before David Robertson served up hits to the next three. Eight runs in all scored in the eighth, ensuring not only that the Yankees would lose, but that memories of Giese's outing would be shoved deep into the shadows of Orange County.

Given Ramirez's success this season in particular, the speed of that offensive outburst came as a shock to everyone in pinstripes. But the Angels have been successful this season, too. Something had to give.

"I don't care what's happening with the Angels," Ramirez said. "I'm trying to throw the same balls that I throw everybody."

Members of the bullpen, victims also in Friday night's loss, were stunned into silence after the game -- mainly because they had all been so good this year. Ramirez stood in front of one row of lockers, trying to explain why the Angels knocked his slider all over the ballpark. And Robertson slouched in a chair, wondering aloud how anyone could expect a changeup on a 0-0 count.

But this isn't anyone. These are the Angels. And the results were quite ugly.

"What do you think?" Girardi said. "You think it's fun watching that?"

So imagine how Giese felt. In the days leading up to his first start since June, Giese set a goal to pitch six effective innings in his Angel Stadium debut. He knew the Yankees would limit him to roughly 85 pitches given his recent role in the bullpen, and he knew that six innings would be stretching that limit.

Then he went out and made good on his prediction -- or rather, his hope -- holding the Angels to just three hits and a run.

And then he watched it all disappear.

"You can't ask for him to do anything more than he did," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "He was outstanding."

Giese didn't feel outstanding after the game, waiting for Robertson and Johnny Damon to get dressed so that the three could head down to a family party in San Clemente, Calif. Though Giese was pleased with himself -- how could he not be? -- every other Yankee had a sour taste in his mouth after the game.

And so the party might not be quite as fun as he imagined, because the game wasn't quite as fun. An Angels fan growing up in Riverside, Calif., Giese simply wanted to win in front of his family and friends and countless well-wishers. And he very nearly did, outdueling perennial Cy Young candidate John Lackey.

"It's funny to say, but all those times goofing around in my front yard, I always put myself here in Angel Stadium," Giese said. "It was my first start here, but in my head, I've done it a million times."

And not a single one of them ended like this. Though Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi hit back-to-back homers off Lackey in the sixth inning, the Yankees could not muster much more offense the rest of the way.

For Giese, it was a troubling sensation. For the Yankees, it was something even more ominous.

Saturday's game was yet another piece of evidence that this Yankees team might not be fit to compete with the Angels, the most successful team in the Major Leagues. And when they lose games because of a leaky valve in the bullpen -- one of their strengths -- this team appears in even greater trouble.

Because now, time is short. And the Yankees, like Giese, are in need of a happy ending.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.