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Yankees 5, Angels 7: Touched up by an Angel

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Bad pitching and baserunning combine for a rubber match loss.

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels
This was a catch
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most bizarre notes about the 2017 season has been the home/road splits for Michael Pineda. The tall right-hander owns a 2.61 FIP and 9.98 K/9 at Yankee Stadium, but a 6.97 FIP on the road, while striking out a full batter less per nine innings. That disparity was on display again tonight, as Pineda labored through six innings, striking out just two, and the Yankees dropped their series finale against the Angels, 7-5.

The Yankees got off to a good start, with Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge reaching on singles in the top of the first. A long sac fly from Matt Holliday gave the visitors a 1-0 lead. After Starlin Castro was hit on an 0-2 pitch, Gary Sanchez crushed his eleventh home run of the season to left field, and the Bombers appeared to be off and running.

The Angels came right back in the bottom half, loading the bases with just one out. Luis Valbuena hit a high, deep ball that probably would have cleared the fence if not for one Aaron Hicks:

Valbuena did drive in a single run, but the Yankees still led by three and Pineda was able to work out of further trouble.

Pineda stayed ungood, however, as an inning later Danny Espinosa ripped a two-run home run to trim the Yankee lead to 4-3. In the third, he again allowed multiple men on, and a wild pitch and Eric Young Jr. -who else- single gave the Angels a one-run lead.

After CC Sabathia left with an injury after four innings last night, it was Matt Shoemaker’s turn to leave early. He seemed to tweak something covering first on a Didi Gregorius infield single, and was taken out without recording an out in the fourth. It was later announced he was experiencing forearm tightness, a scary prospect for any pitcher.

He missed a rather interesting sequence of events, and possibly the unluckiest three outs of the Yankee season. Chase Headley’s ground ball hit Didi, so the ball is dead, the hit runner is out, Chase reached first and Sanchez, who was at second, had to stay put. Rob Refsnyder then smoked a line drive to Espinosa at second, who was able to double up a leaning Sanchez. Baseball is a weird sport.

The Yankees baserunning was really, really bad tonight. Sanchez leaning, and a terrible send home of Aaron Judge by third base coach Joe Espada in the top of the fifth left runs on the table and helped the Angels get out of what should have been sticky situations. Even Chase Headley’s RBI single in the sixth, which tied the game, ended with Headley being tagged out in a rundown trying to stretch a single into a double.

Yet another golden opportunity was squandered in the seventh, as the Yankees again put multiple men on only to see a lineout to Young, infield fly, and a strikeout on a breaking ball in the dirt by Castro.

That failure loomed large in the bottom of the seventh. Ronald Herrera made his major league debut, and retired the first two batters he faced. A two-out walk, however, set the stage for a go-ahead home run from shortstop Andrelton Simmons, and the Yankees were staring up at a 7-5 deficit. Herrera also worked a clunky eighth inning. I thought it was a little odd to leave him out there, but the team probably wants a semi-rested pen before a weekend series in Oakland.

The Yankees went down in the eighth but made noise in the ninth, as Hicks hit a long fly ball that, upon review, was ruled to hit the wall before ending up in Kole Calhoun’s glove. That brought Aaron Judge to the plate as the tying run, but the right fielder rolled over a grounder to third to end the game.

Neither a fun game nor series, but this always happens in Anaheim. Thankfully we don’t have to deal with the Angels or Eric Young Jr. until…well, until next week.

The Yankees head to Oakland tomorrow for four games at Gastown the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Jordan Montgomery will look to halt this two-game skid.