Betances snuffs rally with help from his friend
In midst of Angels' six-run rally, right-hander gets key out on diving play by Gregorius
NEW YORK -- Dellin Betances stood at his locker, searching for the words to sum up what just happened.
Eventually they came, and he grinned: "Thank God for Didi."
If Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius didn't get a handle on that stinging ground ball, didn't get enough reach on his dive, the Angels probably tie the game. If he hadn't recovered in time to make the play at second base, they almost certainly do.
"That's a huge play for us," manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees held on to beat the Angels, 8-7, on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. "That would be a really hard game to swallow if we lose that game."
But wait. Weren't the Yankees up 8-1 going into that ninth inning? And hadn't the Angels already pulled Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar?
They were, and they had. Then came a 25-minute half-inning, kicked off by Esmil Rogers's no-out, five-run appearance. The right-hander gave up a single to Johnny Giavotella, then a double to Taylor Featherston, then a single to Grant Green before walking Efren Navarro and allowing another single to Kole Calhoun.
Rogers said the Green single -- a popup to first base that neither Chase Headley nor Jose Pirela made a move toward -- shook his concentration.
"Yeah, I just got a little upset," Rogers said.
So in came right-hander Betances, he of the 29-inning streak without an earned run this season. After six pitches, David Freese singled to score two and make it an 8-5 game, then Matt Joyce and Chris Iannetta walked, pushing in another run.
Once again, the bases were loaded. Still, no outs. The Angels had given up the game, and the Yankees were trying to give it back.
Betances recovered to strike out Kirk Nieuwenhuis, bringing Giavotella to the plate for the second time in the inning. The second baseman hit a one-hop grounder in the gap between shortstop and third base. Gregorius angled back to the ball and dove.
"I had the mentality, 'There's no way this is getting through,'" Gregorius said.
It didn't. Gregorius tossed to second for the second out of the inning. A run scored on the fielder's choice to cut the lead to one, but the Yankees needed just one out -- Betances' specialty.
After five hits, three walks and six runs, the ninth inning finally ended. Betances struck out pinch-hitter Carlos Perez to end the game, picking up the save in an inning his team had started with a seven-run lead.
"Thank God for Didi," Betances said. "It's a crazy game, for sure."