ANAHEIM -- Derek Jeter used to consider Angel Stadium a house of horrors, advising his teammates to ignore the Rally Monkey’s frantic gyrations on the left-field scoreboard. The current squad doesn’t possess the same adversarial relationship with the building, but this series has brought flashbacks to those bad old days.
Jameson Taillon surrendered six runs and could not complete the fifth inning, Shohei Ohtani stole home plate on the back end of a double steal and the Yankees grounded into five double plays as they absorbed their fourth consecutive defeat, a 6-4 loss to the Angels on Tuesday in Anaheim.
“It’s never easy coming out west, especially this late in the year,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who homered in the loss. “Our pitching has been pretty solid; we just haven’t scored enough runs. I think we just stay the course and continue to build a belief that we’re not out of any game.”
Now eight games behind the division-leading Rays, the Yankees are the first team since Joe Torre’s 1982 Braves to follow a winning streak of 13 games or more with a four-game skid. All four of the Yankees’ losses have been by two runs or fewer.
“Losing four in a row is very frustrating; just unacceptable,” outfielder Brett Gardner said. “We’ve been playing really good baseball for a while now. Anytime you win that many games in a row, you’re playing well and having some things going your way. These last few days, we’ve been in the games and had opportunities to change the outcome. We just haven’t been able to.”
Gary Sánchez also homered for the Yankees, snapping a career-long 20-game homerless drought by launching his first long ball since July 20, a solo shot in the fifth off Angels starter Jaime Barria -- starting in place of Ohtani, who was hit by a pitch on his right wrist over the weekend.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone pointed to the five twin killings -- one more than the club hit into over their 13-game winning streak.
“I thought we were having a lot of really good at-bats all night,” Boone said. “We had our chances. Tonight was a night that we felt like, man, we should have really broken it open.”
Fizzled in the fourth
Taillon navigated scorelessly into the fourth, but the right-hander hung an 0-2 curveball that Jared Walsh slugged for a three-run homer.
In the fifth, Taillon was one strike away from wriggling out of a bases-loaded jam. Phil Gosselin squared up a fastball for a two-run single to center field, ending Taillon’s 92-pitch effort.
“It’s something I've unfortunately done a few times lately, where I'm cruising throughout the game and just hit a roadblock,” Taillon said. “I was really close to getting away from it; could almost taste the ending and then wasn’t able to make the big pitch when I had to.”
Taillon walked two and struck out six, failing to complete five innings for the second straight start. It was Taillon’s first loss since May 31, a span of 16 starts.
“I actually thought he was pretty electric; as good as he’s been for us, stuff-wise,” Boone said. “He was pretty on point tonight and then in that fifth … Gosselin put a pretty good at-bat against him. It looked like he got a pitch in the middle and that turned out to really cost him.”
Ohtani has already hit his Major League-leading 42nd home run in this series. Though they did not see Ohtani from the mound on Tuesday as originally planned, the Yankees instead had to contend with Ohtani on the basepaths.
Joely Rodríguez was on the mound in the fifth inning as Gosselin broke for second base on a delayed steal. Sánchez threw to Urshela, who fired toward the first-base side of home plate. Ohtani’s left hand got in just ahead of the catcher’s tag, his 22nd steal of the year.
“Gary did a good job of reading it and throwing a cannon to Gio,” Rizzo said. “On those plays, it's kind of do-or-die and you have to make perfect throws to get him out. Ohtani's fast. We know he's fast.”