Angels put a devil’s scare into Yanks in 9th
Stuck in a 0-for-22 slump, Stephen Drew was benched for two games on the recently-completed Yankees’ West Coast trip and speculation was ripe that he might lose his second base job. He had two big hits in a come-from-behind, extra-inning victory for the Yankees in Seattle to give manager Joe Girardi more reason to stick with him and opened the homestand Friday night with two home runs in an 8-7 victory over the Angels.
Drew got pushed to the side a bit as the game took a weird turn at the end. Who would have thought with the Yankees up by 8-1 entering the ninth inning that Dellin Betances would get in the game and be in a save situation? And come close to blowing it?
Esmil Rogers faced five batters, did not get any of them out, and all of them scored. One hit was tainted. Chase Headley, shifted to first base in what seemed a blowout, and second baseman Jose Pirela let a popup drop between them for a single by Grant Green.
Betances did not stop the bleeding right away. He gave up a hit and two walks and, finally, an earned run for the first time in 27 appearances and 29 2/3 innings. His strikeout of Kirk Neuwenhuis was the first out of the inning — to the ninth batter! A force play at second ended Betances’ scoreless season and put the potential tying run at third base, but he ended the debacle of an inning by striking out pinch hitter Carlos Perez.
How many times have you seen it? A player hits a foul home run and despite cries from the crowd “Straighten it out,” invariably makes an out on the next pitch. It almost never happens that the hitter does indeed straighten it out.
Drew did so, however, in the second inning in jumping the Yanks out to a 2-0 lead over the Angels’ Jered Weaver. Batting with two out and a runner on first base, Drew, who showed some signs of life offensively in the recent series at Seattle, hit a loud foul near the right field foul pole. You figured at that point that might be his shot.
Then on the next pitch, Drew put another charge into the ball and it made it over the right field wall on the fair side for a two-run home run. Call it a Yankee Stadium homer if you want (it landed maybe two rows over the fence), but a homer is a homer.
Another Stadium homer came two innings later from a more regular source of power — Mark Teixeira. It also came after two were out and barely cleared the right field barrier. It was No. 17 for Tex, who is now one behind American League leader Nelson Cruz of the Mariners. Teixeira also raised his league-leading RBI total to 43.
Speaking of RBI, Alex Rodriguez took over sole possession of second place on the all-time list with No. 1,997 on a two-out single in the fifth that scored Brett Gardner, who had tripled to left-center one out earlier. A-Rod, who had four hits and is batting .284 with 11 homers and 28 RBI, has a ways to go to catch the career RBI leader, Hall of Famer Henry Aaron, with 2,297. Only 300 RBI to go.
Drew connected for his second home run, a two-run shot, with two out in the sixth that sent Weaver to the clubhouse. Fans got excited an inning later when Drew batted with the bases loaded, but he grounded out.
Considering how Drew has struggled — he is still well below the Mendoza line with a .173 batting average — the two-homer, four-RBI game offers some encouragement for the future.
Nathan Eovaldi (5-1) was rolling along for five innings until he lost the plate in the sixth and walked the bases loaded. Chasen Shreve kept the damage to a minimum with one run on an infield out and got a big strikeout of Eric Aybar to end the inning.