Sometimes baseball boils down to the psychology of laundry. Despite being red hot and facing a club without Mike Trout, no lead was safe for the New York Yankees in their series against the Los Angeles Angels. While the Yanks show glimpses of a return to the excitement of the 90’s, the Halos proved they remain a pesky bunch of pests, leading to some frustrating late night contests for New York and New York fans alike.
Anyone else just get a bad feeling watching the Yankees play in Anaheim? House of horrors for the past 20 years
West Coast baseball must be great if you live on the West Coast. There’s no such thing as a late game. For Yankees fans who managed to stay up, they were rewarded with a treat and a 5-3 victory.
At first, it looked like the Halos were going to pull the “we have your number card” on the Yankees, much like the Bronx Bombers regularly do with David Price. Yet, when it was all said and done, maybe this is the start of Masahiro Tanaka‘s turnaround a la Hiroki Kuroda in 2014.
A Kole Calhoun home run to center in the first appeared to be a bad omen.
From there it was mostly smooth sailing as Tanaka fanned eight Halos.
In the seventh, Chase Headley, who notched a two-run single to put the Yankees up 3-1 in the top half of the frame, made an error allowing former Yankee Eric Young Jr. to reach. After Young Jr. stole second, Danny Espinosa collected an RBI-single to right and advanced to second on the throw, chasing Tanaka.
In any other season, Didi Gregorius is the center of attention on this squad. In a season where the organization honored former shortstop Derek Jeter and all eyes are on top future shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, the present Yankee shortstop is lighting it up. On the evening he ran his hitting streak to 14-games, going 4-for-4 with a pair of two-out RBI singles, raising his average to .344.
Earlier during the game, the Angels Twitter handle got real cute with Aaron Judge. Yet the reigning AL Player of the Week and subsequently the Yankee Twitterverse would get the last laugh.
The defense rests. pic.twitter.com/raojoSrD2J
Squared at three in the eighth, Judge crushed a two-run bomb to right-center for the eventual game-winning blast. The reactions by Aaron Hicks on second base, James Kaprielian behind home plate and the “All Rise” Yankee fans in the stands was priceless. The chants of M-V-P at Angel Stadium were not for Mike Trout.
For Judge, it was home run No. 22 and his 4.1 WAR is the best by a New York rookie since Willie Randolph and his 5.0 WAR in 1976.
Dellin “Big Ticket” Betances more than got his work in an important spot. Recording his sixth save, Betances worked 1.1 innings of scoreless ball and struck out the side in the ninth to seal the deal.
Extra innings, extra late and an extra frustrating loss for the Yanks. In their 3-2, 11 inning defeat against the Angels, New York dropped to 0-12 when scoring less than three runs in a game this season. The loss also represented the first time this season the club dropped a game when leading after seven innings, previously being 33-0.
YOU CAN PREDICT BASEBALL
I feel like every time I write about Chris Carter and Tyler Clippard it’s one of those SAT analogy questions. Carter is to Stephen Drew as Clippard is to Kyle Farnsworth. Both played dubious roles in botching this game.
With two down in the fourth, Carter drops a tailor made throw from Gregorius, extending the inning for CC Sabathia. C.J. Cron followed with an RBI-single to left-center and the Halos grabbed a 1-0 advantage.
Who knows if he would’ve come up lame anyway but during the prolonged frame Sabathia strained his left hamstring and wouldn’t return in the fifth, which meant a trip to the disabled list was likely in order.
During the top half of the eleventh, Carter popped out to third with the bases loaded.
In the eighth, after Chase Headley homered to center off JC Ramirez to stake the Yankees to a 2-1 lead, Clippard surrendered a solo shot to right by Young Jr., which squared the contest at two.
Young Jr. would strike again in the bottom of the eleventh, hitting a ball off of reliever Ben Heller, which enabled the winning run to score.
The series finale between the Yankees and Angels was a source of frustration for the Yankees and their fans alike. Even with a fast start, the Yanks offense had a multitude of opportunities to blow this one open. Yet, in the same breath, if not for some solid defensive work by the likes of Hicks and Headley, the 7-5 loss could’ve been even worse.
During the first frame, Sanchez smashed a Matt Shoemaker offering to deep left and his three-run bomb helped stake the Bronx Bombers to a 4-0 advantage.
Yankees fans traveling VERY well. pic.twitter.com/jdf7cTaeeK
PINEDA’S ROAD WOES CONTINUE
While I’m on a roll with player comparisons in this series recap, this Michael Pineda start reminded me of an awful Melido Perez start in a 15-2 Yankees loss to the then California Angels in May of 1995. Although Pineda stuck around much longer in this game and was stronger during the final three frames of his six-inning outing.
The big right-handed starter nearly gave it all back in the bottom of the first, except Hicks turned a grand slam into a sacrifice fly, robbing Luis Valbuena in center.
During the second, the ballpark wouldn’t hold any longer and “Big Mike” surrendered a two-run shot to Espinosa to right.
In the third, the Angels came all the way back after Pineda uncorked a wild pitch and yielded an RBI-single to Young Jr., who continued to torment the Yankees like the second coming of Chone Figgins.
As I mentioned above, a 4-0 lead should be more than enough on most nights but New York could have piled on more. Rob Refsnyder was stranded on third following a one-out triple in the second.
They were able to square the contest at five on an RBI-single to center by Headley in the sixth but a base running error by Headley on the same play stunted the rally.
If you listened to the most recent Bronx Pinstripes podcast, you would’ve heard Andrew and Scott masterfully break down manager Joe Girardi‘s bullpen usage. After the Yanks rallied back and Pineda was in a groove, Girardi decided it was time for Ronald Herrera to make his debut in a baptism by fire type situation.
After retiring the first two batters in the seventh, Herrera walked Valbuena and then Andrelton Simmons went all Adrian Beltre down to one knee with a two-run tater to left. That essentially sealed the deal and sent the Yankees to Oakland with two consecutive losses.
At 38-25 on the campaign, the Yankees head up the coast to take on the Oakland Athletics in a four-game series starting Thursday night.