Rizzo's miscue stings: 'That play needs to be made'

Late unraveling spoils Soto's HR, Cortes' gem as Volpe extends hit streak vs. Angels

May 29th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- admittedly holds himself to a high defensive standard, as would be expected of a veteran with four Gold Glove Awards stashed within his personal effects. His performance this season has not been up to par, which the Yankees first baseman described as “disappointing.”

Initially scored an error before being changed to a hit, Rizzo’s inability to secure an eighth-inning grounder helped open the door for Taylor Ward’s go-ahead, two-run double off closer Clay Holmes, and led the Yankees to a 4-3 loss to the Angels on Tuesday evening at Angel Stadium. It marked just New York's sixth loss in 23 games, dating back to May 3.

“That play needs to be made,” Rizzo said. “Clay comes in the game and gives up a hit. He should have never been in the game if I make that play. It’s a tough one.”

The Yanks took a quick lead, with belting the game’s seventh pitch over the right-field wall for his 15th home run of the year. New York led by a run in the eighth when Luis Rengifo slapped a ball to the right side of the infield, potentially representing an inning-ender.

Sprawling to his right, Rizzo was unable to make the play. That prompted manager Aaron Boone’s long walk to the mound, where he’d ask for a four-out save from Holmes.

Ward had other ideas, sending a Holmes sinker over Alex Verdugo’s head in left field to chase home the tying and deciding runs. Holmes said that his pitch was in its intended location; replays showed that it was inside off the plate, but Ward was still able to barrel it.

“They were ready,” Holmes said. “That was kind of their approach; they came out aggressive. I had to make a pitch, and I think he just put a good swing on that sinker there. He put it in the air, which doesn’t happen very often.”

After the scoring change, Rizzo still hasn't committed an error since April 14 in Cleveland, when he made two in an 8-7 loss. Since then, Rizzo said he felt that he had been playing much cleaner defense, though that provided little consolation late on Tuesday.

“The first couple of weeks were pretty brutal, but overall the last five or six weeks, I would say pretty normal,” Rizzo said. “A play like today’s, I’ve got to make it.”

Said Boone: “He’s still great over there. Just a couple of hiccups here lately.”

The late lead change spoiled a contest in which helped his club secure a piece of history. By holding the Halos to Kevin Pillar’s early homer over 5 1/3 solid innings, Cortes provided the 15th consecutive game in which a Yankees starter had completed five or more innings while permitting two or fewer runs.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the longest such streak since the mound was moved to its current distance of 60 feet and six inches in 1893. The previous marks of 14 were shared by the 1907 Phillies, 1968 Pirates and 2022 Mets.

“I think we’ve done a good job internally to make this a little competition amongst ourselves,” Cortes said. “I feel like everybody that goes out there the night before, you want to trump that. You want to pitch better and have a better line.”

There was also a personal achievement for Soto, who opened his first season as an American Leaguer by voicing his goal of homering in all 30 current Major League stadiums during the regular season. He needed six then, and now needs just three.

With Soto having slugged homers this season at Houston's Minute Maid Park, Cleveland’s Progressive Field and on Tuesday in Anaheim, his upcoming opportunities to conquer the remaining three will come in road series against the White Sox (Aug. 12-14), Rangers (Sept. 2-4) and Mariners (Sept. 17-19).

extended his hitting streak to 20 games, the longest by a Yankee since Robinson Canó's 23-game streak in 2012. Despite traffic on the bases, the Yanks struggled to cash runs until Austin Wells connected for a booming RBI double in the fifth.

Third-base coach Luis Rojas also aggressively sent Gleyber Torres on Wells' double, attempting to score from first base. Though Torres was tagged out, Boone said that he was OK with the decision to push for more.

“I thought we swung the bats really well tonight,” Boone said. “For having only three runs, up and down the lineup we had good at-bats. We were hitting the ball off the barrel all night long. We just weren’t able to really break it open.”