There is only one American League team that the Yankees have less than a .500 record against from 2000 to 2014, and that is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Their record in that span is 59-65). As someone who endorses sabermetrics and truly believes in regression to the mean, I'd like to say that eventually this head-to-head record will regress to whatever that mean should be, but the irrational fan inside of me thinks exactly the opposite. For some reason, and many Yankee fans will agree with me, the Yankees have a problem playing against the Angels. The only time I thought the opposite of that was in the 2009 ALCS, but that seems like such a rare case. This game fits exactly into the aforementioned mold. Man, it was brutal.
The Yankees gave the ball to Hiroki Kuroda, who has pitched just "OK" this season, pitching to a 4.07 ERA and 3.54 FIP. That isn't too bad, but we've certainly seen him struggle a couple of times this year already. This game was not just laborous--he was downright blown out. The scoring started in the top of the 2nd, and it just didn't stop. Kuroda allowed a couple of singles and then a Hank Conger RBI double. A Collin Cowgill sacrifice bunt and J.B. Shuck ground out brought in two more, and the Angels had a quick 3-0 lead. The Angels then struck another key blow in the next inning on an Ian Stewart two-run home run to give the Angels a 5-0 lead. According to the FanGraphs Game Graph that gave the Angels a 90.2% chance of victory, so likely that would have been enough. Ha.
In the top of the 5th inning, Albert Pujols started off the inning with something that is now feeling like a daily occurrence--a solo home run. That is Pujols' 9th (!) home run of the season so far, which leads MLB. The Angels then were able to tack on a couple more runs on an error from Carlos Beltran that allowed two runs to score to make the score 7-1. Kuroda was pulled for Bruce Billings after pitching only 4.2 innings with eight runs allowed, six of them being earned. It was the worst start he's had this season, and it's also the most earned runs he's allowed since August 23, 2013 when he allowed seven earned runs to the Tampa Bay Rays (It's also the most runs he's allowed in his MLB career!). Remember: that was when he was fading down the stretch. This is when he's supposed to be fresh, and he hasn't looked quite like what we saw last year. It's only been a few starts, but it's obvious that his age is showing a bit. In 2013, he allowed more than three earned runs eight times: five of them occurred after the middle of August. Like I said, it's only one start, but early last year he practically never got smacked around like he was tonight. We'll all be hoping he rebounds quickly and this was just an isolated incident.
After Billings came in, Conger followed up his last RBI double with... another RBI double to bring in the runner Erick Aybar; the Angels then led 8-0. Luckily, the Yankees were not shut out! In the bottom of the 6th, a Derek Jeter single and Carlos Beltran double brought runners to second and third. The Yankees were unable to capitalize and start an extended rally, but they were able to score one on an Alfonso Soriano sacrifice fly; the score was then 8-1.
In the 7th, the Angels just decided to make it embarrassing. With Raul Ibanez and Howie Kendrick on base with a respective walk and base hit, Aybar hit a home run over the short porch in right field to extend the Angels' lead to 11-1; Cowgill followed that two batters later with a home run to left to extend their lead even further to 12-1. The Angels capped it off, just for kicks, in the 9th with another RBI from Conger on a single that drove in Aybar to make it 13-1. Hitters five through eight in the Angels' lineup went 12-20 with eight RBI's. Yikes. After Kuroda was removed, the Yankees got 4.1 innings from their relief pitching (Billings for 4.0 IP and Shawn Kelley for 0.1 IP) and they allowed five runs; Billings allowed four of those, but did get seven strikeouts. Billings was not effective, but he gave the team length and saved them for tomorrow night.
The Angels came into the Bronx and made the Yankees look completely foolish. C.J. Wilson dominated the Yankees as he allowed one run in six innings on just four hits and three walks, with five strikeouts; they also got three scoreless innings from their bullpen (an inning from Nick Maronde, Ernesto Frieri, and Yoslan Herrera, respectively). The offense scored 13 runs on 16 hits; and as I mentioned, the latter part of the lineup was nearly always on base. I'm actually not as frustrated with this game as I would be with a close loss; these are the type of games that can easily be pushed aside because they were so far out of reach. They also did the same thing to the Red Sox last night, so everyone gets their night; it's even-steven now.
The Yankees will face the Angels once again tomorrow afternoon for game two of three, as Vidal Nuno will face Hector Santiago. The game starts at 1 PM EST and you can catch it on Fox Sports 1.