Yankees Lose Series to Angels but Fly Home Happy

The New York Yankees ended their road trip with a win but lost the series to the Angels. It was the club’s first series loss since dropping three of four against Boston in late July. But the win on Wednesday salvaged some hope, as Gerrit Cole turned in a vintage performance to earn the Yankees a happy flight back to New York.

Angels Win Tug-of-War Opener 8-7

The Angels defeated the Yankees in a game of ups and downs and miscalculations by Aaron Boone on Monday evening. Juan Lagares capped his three-hit night with the go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the 8th. The earned run marked Wandy Peralta’s first blemish since July 8th in Seattle.

Corey Kluber made his first start since late May and began effectively, striking out six. Anthony Rizzo staked him the lead with an RBI double before Giancarlo Stanton’s double-play brought Rizzo home to make it 2-0. But Kluber understandably hit a wall in the fourth. After striking out Shohei Ohtani for the second time, Kluber allowed three singles on three straight pitches. After a flyout to the warning track, Kluber walked the next batter to bring up Jack Mayfield and send pitching coach, Matt Blake, to the mound. At 57 pitches with no one warming up, Kluber spun a curveball middle-middle. Mayfield deposited that gift into the Yankees bullpen for a grand slam.

The Yankees would tie the game with their own two-out rally in the fifth. But Andrew Heaney’s piggy-back relief appearance soured immediately, as his former teammate Ohtani welcomed the pitcher back to Anaheim with a moonshot into the right-field seats. Heaney allowed an RBI triple to Lagares in the sixth before Stanton blasted a mammoth, game-tying two-run homer to tie it at seven. The ultimate miscalculation of Boone’s night came in the eighth. After Peralta’s shutout seventh, Boone sent out the lefty to start the inning and allow a leadoff single. Clay Holmes entered to retire the next two batters on slow groundouts, moving the winning run to third before Lagares’ go-ahead single rounded off the scoring. The loss marked the Yankees’ first three-game losing streak since June.

Taillon Buckles as Yankees’ Skid Continues

The second turn through the Angels’ order again proved costly for the Yankees en route to a 6-4 loss. Jameson Taillon allowed six runs over a rocky fourth and fifth inning after retiring the first nine batters he faced. It was a similar pill to what Kluber faced the night before. Angels hitters, bamboozled in the first three innings, jumped on Taillon’s breaking stuff in the fourth. David Fletcher and Ohtani reached on a single and a walk. The pair subsequently stole second and third before Jared Walsh crashed a curveball deep into the right-field seats. Taillon nearly eked his way out of the fifth without further damage, but Phil Gosselin lashed a two-run single on the righty’s 92nd and final pitch of the evening. Gosselin and Ohtani later perfectly executed a delayed double-steal that saw the MVP-to-be swipe home for the Angels’ sixth and final run.

It was another night to forget for the Yankees offense. While Rizzo and Gary Sánchez slugged solo homers, the team grounded into five double plays. Stanton ended the first and sixth innings with twin-killings, while Joey Gallo banged into his third as a Yankee. It’s a frustrating mark for the flyball swinging Gallo, who had only nine DPs over his entire Rangers career. Brett Gardner stymied a seventh-inning rally with a DP. And while the team’s hottest hitters, Judge and Stanton, added RBI singles in the 8th, Gio Urshela and pinch-hitting maligned Luke Voit struck out swinging to cap another painful night in Anaheim.

Cole Stakes Major Cy Young Claim in Huge Win

The Yankees got exactly what they needed and more out of their ace on Wednesday in a 4-1 win. Gerrit Cole was historically dominant; the Orange County native struck out 15 Angels with a fastball topping out at 100.5 mph. His performance broke a tie with Al Downing for the most games with 12+ strikeouts in a Yankees season. He also elicited 32 swings and misses, the highest single-game total in his career. Cole’s dominance manifested best in his elite showing against Ohtani, who looked completely off-balance in his three strikeouts. Jonathan Loaisiga hurled a 1-2-3 inning eighth and Aroldis Chapman cruised to his second-straight save in a worry-free ninth.

Before the game, there were major question marks regarding Aaron Boone’s lineup. Stanton was rested against a lefty even with an off-day on Thursday. Missing a major threat in the middle-of-the-order, the Yankees offense staked their starter to a lead in the third inning. With two outs, DJ LeMahieu walked, Rizzo singled, and following a four-pitch walk to Judge, Voit grounded a single through the shift to plate two. Gardner added another two-out RBI in the fourth with a single to drive in Rougned Odor. Finally, Aaron Judge capped his road trip with a solo shot, cranking a hanging slider into the Yankees bullpen. Judge’s incredible slash line for the road trip was .500/.526/.833, with three homers and 10 RBIs.

Yankees Injury Report and Look Ahead

Zack Britton will have season-ending surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow. The decision caps a severely disappointing season for the reliever. After losing 18lbs in an offseason battle with COVID, Britton began the 2021 season on the IL following a first arthroscopic procedure for the same ailment. His mid-June return was cut short by a hamstring strain, then his July return was unceremoniously poor, relegating the sinker-baller to an ad-hoc role. An elbow strain landed him on the IL for the third time leading to the ultimate decision for surgery. Gio Urshela will also need an MRI on Thursday to see any potential damage to his right hand. The 3B injured it on Ohtani’s steal of home on Tuesday evening and was precautionarily held out of Wednesday’s series finale.

In lighter news, Michael King began his long-awaited rehab assignment in Scranton on Tuesday, joining up with Gleyber Torres after his transfer over to the AAA club. Torres is expected back in the Bronx for the weekend series against Baltimore, while King may need more time with the Yankees facing a decision on how to best utilize the reliever down the stretch.

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