ANAHEIM -- Two weeks ago, the Angels were basking in the glow of their best start in franchise history. They've plummeted back down to Earth quite steadily since.Their offense fizzled once again in a 2-1 loss to the Yankees on Sunday night at Angel Stadium, which sealed their first sweep
ANAHEIM -- Two weeks ago, the Angels were basking in the glow of their best start in franchise history. They've plummeted back down to Earth quite steadily since.
Their offense fizzled once again in a 2-1 loss to the Yankees on Sunday night at Angel Stadium, which sealed their first sweep at home by the Bombers since July 2003. The Angels have now lost nine of their last 12 games to fall to 16-12 on the season, while the Yankees improved to 18-9 after winning their ninth game in a row.
The Angels mustered little against Yankees left-hander Carsten Sabathia, who yielded only one run on five hits -- including the 2,996th of Jose Pujols' career -- over seven innings. Their scuffling lineup squandered a solid effort from left-hander Tyler Skaggs, whose lone blemish was a two-run home run to Gary Sanchez in the fourth.
• Pujols closes in on 3,000th hit
The Angels hit .291 and averaged 6.4 runs per game over their first 16 games, when they went 13-3. Now they're mired in a team-wide slump. Over their 3-9 stretch, they've hit only .169 and averaged 2.2 runs per game. A string of strong opposing pitching hasn't helped matters. The last seven starters the Angels have faced have been Johnny Cueto, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Justin Verlander, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and Sabathia.
Manager Mike Scioscia nevertheless expressed confidence that the Angels will come out of their offensive downturn soon.
"We're going to be fine," Scioscia said. "We're not squaring balls up the last 10 days like we did earlier in the season, but we will. We have a lot of confidence in this offense, a lot of confidence in these guys, so we'll get it going. It was a rough stretch here in these three games on the offensive side. These guys are too good of hitters not to come out of it."
Skaggs cruised through the first three innings before Giancarlo Stanton doubled with one out in the fourth to give the Yankees their first hit of the night. Sanchez followed by crushing a 91.7-mph fastball down the middle for a towering home run that gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Sanchez's shot cleared the Angels' bullpen in left field and traveled an estimated 447 feet, according to Statcast™.
"Tough game," Skaggs said. "One bad pitch."
That proved to be the extent of the Yankees' damage, though they managed to run up Skaggs' pitch count early and knock him out in the sixth. Skaggs retired Didi Gregorius on a popup on his 99th and final pitch before he was replaced by rookie reliever Justin Anderson. Skaggs departed after allowing three hits while walking two and striking out eight in 5 1/3 innings.
Anderson, less than a week removed from his MLB debut in Houston, struck out Stanton swinging and induced a groundout from Sanchez to end the inning. He then came back out for the seventh and struck out two over a scoreless inning. The 25-year-old right-hander has not allowed a run over 4 1/3 innings in four relief appearances.
The Angels didn't get on the board until the sixth, when Justin Upton singled, advanced to third on a broken-bat bloop single by Pujols and scored on a wild pitch to trim the Yankees' lead to 2-1. That put the tying run on second with one out, but Sabathia quashed the rally by coaxing a popout from Andrelton Simmons and getting Zack Cozart to fly out.
"There's no doubt we faced some pretty good pitching the past week, but you still have to put together at-bats and try to put some pressure on them," Cozart said. "We just haven't done it that often the past week or so. We'll have an off-day tomorrow and get back at it Tuesday."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Pujols' drive falls short: After Michael Trout drew a leadoff walk off Yankees reliever Chad Green in the eighth, Pujols momentarily injected a bit of hope into the home crowd by lifting a 95.6-mph fastball to deep left field, but Brett Gardner caught the ball at the warning track to preserve the Yankees' 2-1 lead.
"Albert, he killed that ball," Scioscia said. "It just didn't get up enough and went straight to the wall."
The Angels will enjoy an off-day on Monday before kicking off a three-game series against the Orioles on Tuesday at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Right-hander Nick Tropeano (1-2, 4.67 ERA) will start the opener in place of Shohei Ohtani, who is on the mend from a sprained left ankle. Righty Alex Cobb will pitch for Baltimore. Tropeano allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Astros on Wednesday. He made his only career appearance against the Orioles on July 9, 2016, when he yielded one run over six innings.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.