The Yankees ended a four-game slide tonight in the Bronx with an 11-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels. The Bombers overcame a jaw-dropping performance from Shohei Ohtani, and some less-than-stellar pitching from Jameson Taillon with their own power display, and yes – sound baserunning and defense.
It didn’t take long for the Yankees to get on the board in the top of the first inning. Catcher Gary Sánchez gave a souvenir to a fan in the right-field seats when he sent a 0-1 changeup away, into the stands and gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead with along with it. Yet, as quickly as the Yankees took the lead, it went away in the blink of an eye.
An error from Yankees left fielder Miguel Andújar allowed the Angels’ Max Stassi to advance to second base on a single, led off the top of the second inning for the Halos. After inducing a groundout to shortstop from Luis Rengifo, Yankees starter Jameson Taillon threw a cement-mixer curveball to José Iglesias, and by the time the Angels shortstop was done with it, the scoreboard read 2-1, Los Angeles.
The Yankees seemed content to play tit-for-tat with the Angels, as they answered right back in their half of the second inning, in a manner that’s been rare for them this season – with the help of some heads-up base running. After Gio Urshela drew a base on balls, and a single from Andújar advanced Urshela to third base, Brett Gardner lofted a fly ball down the left-field line that was caught by Angels’ left fielder Scott Schebler. Due to Schebler’s momentum that took him into foul territory, both Urshela and Andújar advanced due to a good baserunning read on both their parts. Andújar’s advance to second base turned out to be a key one when DJ LeMahieu followed with a single, scoring Andújar, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
Aaron Judge then decided it was time to dispense with the subtle tactics. His honor took an Andrew Heaney fastball and sentenced it to exile, 434 feet away. When it landed well over the center-field wall, all had risen and the Yankees held a 5-2 lead:
Shohei Ohtani cut the Yankees’ lead down to two just minutes later. In the top of the third inning with one out and nobody on base, Shohei truly went showtime on Taillon. A changeup found a bit too much of the plate exited the playing field off Ohtani’s bat at 109.6 mph, and when it landed in the right-field seats, the Yankees’ lead was 5-3.
The Angels’ fortunes turned quickly and harshly thereafter, as they had themselves a long fourth inning, figuratively and literally. In their half of the fourth inning, Luis Rengifo led off with a liner into the right-center field gap that had extra bases written all over it. Aaron Judge had something else in mind, perhaps out number one, as he made a fantastic running catch to snag the liner. Then in the bottom of the fourth inning, an Andújar home run followed by two walks, two doubles, and a big two-out single from Gleyber Torres gave the Yankees a touchdown lead heading into the fifth inning.
Trailing 10-3 and with a win probability of 1.7 percent, few would have criticized Angels’ manager Joe Maddon if he had a position player start warming up in the bullpen. Yet, once again, Shohei Ohtani, said “not so fast” and hit a baseball just over the right-field wall that had many fans audibly gasping on contact. If like I was, you were concerned about the health of the fan with whom the ball made contact in the stands, we’ve received confirmed reports that they’ll survive. With the lead now 10-5, Taillon seemed to want to make the game even more interesting by immediately issuing a walk to the subsequent batter, Anthony Rendon. But after a strikeout of Jared Walsh, Taillon used the Yankees’ pitchers’ best strategy: Induce a ground ball to Urshela. The 5-4-3 double play ended the drama for the time being and held the lead at 10-5.
Thereafter, the Yankees got an RBI double from Andújar (his third hit of the night) and a combined 3.2 innings of shutout relief from Nestor Cortes Jr. and Albert Abreu to seal the 11-5 win. For their part, the Angels’ relief corps did everything in their power to convince the non-believers among us that a pitch clock, is in fact, a rule change we’d all welcome.
The Yankees will look to make it two in a row tomorrow evening when the AL leader in home runs will take the mound against them, throwing “100 with splitters that drop off the table” as David Cone said tonight. First pitch is at 7:05 pm, EDT.