ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The New York Yankees had as much trouble with plate umpire Laz Diaz’s attitude as they did with his strike zone.
Manager Joe Girardi was long gone by the time relievers Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton and Preston Claiborne combined to issue six walks in the eighth inning – three of which forced in runs. A good portion of Girardi’s anger following Monday night’s 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels was directed toward the way Diaz admonished him earlier in the game after he questioned a close pitch.
“I mentioned to Laz in a respectful way that I thought a pitch to Kelly Johnson was up, and he gave me the `Mutombo,'” Girardi said, wagging his index finger the way former NBA center Dikembe Mutombo used to do after blocking an opponent’s shot.
“I don’t appreciate that. I’m not a little kid, and I don’t need to be scolded. I just thought there were a lot of inconsistencies tonight,” Girardi added. “Nobody’s coming here to see Laz, I can tell you that.”
The Yankees loaded the bases in the top of the eighth on singles by Johnson and Brian Roberts and a bunt hit by Ichiro Suzuki. Girardi was tossed after questioning a 1-0 pitch to Brett Gardner from the dugout, then came on the field and continued his rant.
“I thought the pitch was low, but I’m not going to make excuses,” Gardner said. “I mean, I was at the top of the order and I struck out three times and didn’t get on base.”
Derek Jeter then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play on Jered Weaver’s next offering. The right-hander bounded off the mound pumping his fist and shouting in excitement after getting Jeter to ground into an inning-ending double play in the eighth.
“Sometimes you hit balls hard and they catch it,” Jeter said. “My last at-bat I hit it harder than the other balls. I just hit it to somebody.”
The Angels loaded the bases against Kelley (0-2) with three walks, including a two-out intentional pass to Albert Pujols that preceded a base on balls to pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez. Collin Cowgill scored on a walk to Howie Kendrick and Kelley was replaced by Thornton.
“I didn’t attack the zone and do what I normally do, and it cost me,” Kelley said. “I’m not going to say anything about the strike zone. I made a lot of bad pitches, so it’s on me.”
Kelley was tossed by Diaz on his way to the dugout. Thornton then walked Ian Stewart to force in another run, and Claiborne did likewise to Chris Iannetta. The six walks were the most by the Yankees’ staff in one inning 1990.
Jered Weaver (3-2) allowed a run and six hits in eight innings, struck out seven and walked one. Ernesto Frieri pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in five chances.
Yankees right-hander David Phelps allowed a run and three hits over 5 1-3 innings with three strikeouts and a walk. It was his 24th career start and first since July 4, 2013.
Phelps made his first nine appearances this season out of the bullpen, but was inserted into the rotation because of Michael Pineda’s 10-game suspension for having a foreign substance on his neck during a game at Boston on April 23.
The only hit Weaver allowed during the first six innings was a leadoff single in the fourth by Jeter, ending an 0-for-14 drought for the Yankees captain. Jeter doubled inside third base on Weaver’s first pitch in the seventh, advanced on Jacoby Ellsbury’s groundout and scored the tying run on a single by former Angel Mark Teixeira.
The double snapped a string of 55 consecutive at-bats by Jeter without an extra-base hit, and the run he scored tied Tris Speaker for 11th place on the career list at 1,882 – six behind Lou Gehrig.
NOTES: Reggie Jackson got together with Pujols, the newest member of the 500-homer club, while the Yankees were taking batting practice. The 67-year-old Hall of Famer, currently a special adviser in the Yanks’ baseball operations department, hit his 500th home run at the “Big A ” Sept. 17, 1984, while playing for the Angels. … Yankees C Brian McCann was the MVP of the 2010 All-Star game in Anaheim, representing the Atlanta Braves and hitting a three-run double that decided the outcome for the NL.