Yanks hurt again by three-game series sweep jinx

The inability to pull off a three-game series sweep bit the Yankees again Sunday. After shutting out the Angels Friday night and almost doing so again Saturday night in two victories, the Yankees put up nothing but zeroes offensively Sunday in falling to the Halos, who beat the Yanks for the first time in seven tries this season.

The Yankees swept a four-game series against the Angels June 6-9 at Yankee Stadium and had another four-game sweep May 19-22 at Oakland. Their other series sweep was a two-gamer June 14-15 at Denver. Yet all season the Yankees have not swept a three-game series. Sunday marked the sixth time this season they lost the third and final game of a series after having won the first two.

Conversely, the Yankees have been swept in three-game series four times this year — April 19-21 by the Athletics at the Stadium, April 29-May 1 at Boston, May 30-June 1 at Toronto and July 29-31 at St. Petersburg, Fla. In 24 other three-game series, including this past weekend, the Yankees won two games 12 times and lost two games 12 times.

A key hit here or there Sunday would have ended the three-game series sweep drought for the Yankees, but they were handcuffed by Los Angeles pitchers. Mark Teixeira led off the third inning against Angels starter Jhoulys Chacin with a double off the wall in center field and got to third on a one-out single to center by Aaron Hicks. Brett Gardner hit the ball hard to second base, but that was the start of an inning-ending double play.

The Yankees loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth on singles by Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro and a walk to Brian McCann before Teixeira flied out to center. In the eighth the Yanks had runners on first and second with one out against reliever J.C. Ramirez, who got out of the jam by striking out Gregorius and retiring Castro on a squib in front of the plate. Hicks’ third-inning single was the Yankees’ lone hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position, and it did not result in a run.

The offensive failures of the Yankees were a tough blow for rookie Chad Green, who had his second straight impressive start. The righthander gave up a first-inning run and then shut down the Angels through the sixth. Over his past two starts, Green has allowed one earned run, seven hits and one walk with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings (0.75 ERA). He lowered his season ERA over that stretch from 4.94 to 3.66.

Green grew up in Missouri and was a big fan of the Cardinals and Albert Pujols, who won three National League Most Valuable Player Awards in his time with St. Louis. Green watched his boyhood idol have another strong game only this time at the expense of him and the Yankees. Pujols had three hits and scored both L.A. runs, the first against Green.

Pujols singled with two out, advanced to second on a walk to C.J. Cron and scored on a single by Andrelton Simmons. Pujols scored again in the eighth inning against reliever Adam Warren after getting the first of three ground singles by the Angels against the Yankees’ infield shifts.

It would have been a 4-for-4 game for Pujols if not for a sensational catch in the fifth inning by Jacoby Ellsbury, who made like an NBA rebounder and jumped high to grab Pujols’ bid for a home run with his glove over the center field fence. Pujols tied Mark McGwire for 10th place on the all-time home run list with his 583rd blast Saturday night off Dellin Betances in the bottom of the ninth inning to avoid a second straight shutout loss by the Angels. Pujols did his share Sunday to hand the Yankees their sixth shutout loss of the year.

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