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Simmons stays hot with two-homer game off CC

@RhettBollinger
April 25, 2019

ANAHEIM -- Andrelton Simmons has been heating up at the plate over the last week, and on Wednesday night, he smacked two homers off Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia at Angel Stadium. But it wasn't enough in a tough 6-5 loss that saw the Angels fail to protect a five-run lead

ANAHEIM -- Andrelton Simmons has been heating up at the plate over the last week, and on Wednesday night, he smacked two homers off Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia at Angel Stadium. But it wasn't enough in a tough 6-5 loss that saw the Angels fail to protect a five-run lead en route to their ninth loss of their last 10 games.

Simmons entered the game hitting .361/.378/.556 with seven doubles and five RBIs over his last eight games, and he kept it going with his second and third homers of the season. He hit a solo shot in the first on a first-pitch fastball and another solo blast in the fourth on a 3-2 slider.

"The last couple days I've been feeling pretty decent," said Simmons, who went 2-for-4. "Everybody's working hard. Been hitting the ball hard. Some days they don't fall, some days they do. Right now, I'm feeling good and trying to keep it going."

It marked his fifth career multihomer game and his first since exactly a year ago on April 24, 2018, against the Astros. Simmons leads the team with nine extra-base hits over his last eight games with at least one in all but one of those games. It's improved his slugging percentage from .292 to .446 on the year.

"He looks great," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's doing everything defensively we know he can do, and he's starting to swing that bat well."

Four batters later, Kole Calhoun connected on a three-run shot off Sabathia to give the Angels a 5-0 lead in the fourth. It was Calhoun's fifth homer of the year and his second off a lefty. Calhoun was 1-for-25 against lefties this season prior to the homer.

The Yankees, though, clawed back into the game, scoring two runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh to tie it. The Angels used an opener for the second time this season, and it worked early with Cam Bedrosian throwing a scoreless first before handing it over to Felix Peña.

Pena cruised through his first four innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He allowed an RBI double to DJ LeMahieu and nearly escaped a jam with two runners on, but a run scored on a passed ball from catcher Jonathan Lucroy. It was the final frame for Pena, who struck out eight over five strong innings. He recorded 14 swinging strikes with 13 via his slider.

"That's my go-to pitch," Pena said through an interpreter. "When it's working pretty much every other pitch goes along with it. Thank god my pitch was working well today."

The Angels turned to reliever Luis García in the seventh, but he allowed all four batters he faced to reach, including three via walks. The Yankees came back to tie it with three runs, but the Angels were helped by a great running catch from Mike Trout in center for the second out. It led to an unusual double play, as Simmons tagged out Tyler Wade a second after his foot briefly came off the bag.

Wade, though, redeemed himself in the ninth, when he singled with two outs off reliever Ty Buttrey, stole second and scored on an RBI single from LeMahieu. It was the first run allowed this season by Buttrey, who went 2 2/3 innings and has a 0.75 ERA.

"Nobody likes losing," Buttrey said. "It's part of it. I think we're competing. Everybody is out there. It's not like we're getting blown out. It's a long season. There's going to be a lot of games like this and there's going to be a lot of games with us winning. We have to stick to what we're doing and it's going to work out."

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.