Results tagged ‘ Mike Trout ’

Kuroda survives very slim margin for error

You look at the record – 11-7 – and it does not appear overwhelming. Yet that is just what Hiroki Kuroda has been for the Yankees this season.

In a year when CC Sabathia has struggled to maintain his status as staff ace, Kuroda has taken the baton and given the Yankees ace-like quality for much of the season. Had run support been more plentiful in Kuroda’s starts, he might have five or six more victories.

Even Monday night when he pitched an absolute gem, Kuroda had slim margin for error as the Yankees managed only two runs off Angels starter Garrett Richards. That skinny margin nearly cost Kuroda another winning decision in this game when Los Angeles rallied in the ninth inning only to fall one run short.

Kuroda shut out the Angels on three hits in eight innings to lower his season ERA to 2.33, which ranks second in the American League only to the 2.28 of the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez. Over his past seven starts covering 48 innings, Kuroda’s ERA is a microscopic 0.94. He is 4-1 in that stretch.

Josh Hamilton opened the second inning with a double to right-center, but he never got beyond second base as Kuroda retired the next nine batters in a row. A leadoff walk to Eric Aybar ended that run of outs but Kuroda ran off six more before Mike Trout beat out an infield single to start the seventh. Kuroda quickly erased him by getting Hamilton to ground into a double play. The other hit off Kuroda was a two-out double in the eighth by catcher Chris Iannetta, who was also stranded.

Brett Gardner, the hero of Sunday’s walk-off victory over the Tigers, was productive again with a two-out, RBI single in the third. It stayed a 1-0 game until the seventh when Curtis Granderson homered into the second deck in right field. That likely created a sense of déjà vu for Richards. He was the first pitcher to make his major-league debut at the current Yankee Stadium Aug. 10, 2011 and gave up six runs and six hits in five innings of a 9-3 Yankees victory. Two of the hits off Richards in that game were home runs by Granderson.

Granderson’s third home run of this season proved pivotal when the Angels came alive after Kuroda left the game. Boone Logan started the ninth and gave up a hit and got a strikeout. At the same time, Yankees fans in the Stadium crowd of 37,146 chanted “We want Mo,” a good sign of their allegiance to Mariano Rivera despite his having blown three straight save opportunities.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi wanted to stay away from Mo in this one and brought in David Robertson, who got into immediate trouble by walking Mike Trout and giving up a bloop double down the left field line that made the score 2-1. It forced the Yanks to walk Aybar intentionally to load the bases and set up a force at each. Robertson bore down hard for his first save with impressive strikeouts of Mike Trout and Chris Nelson.

In a way, it was a view into the future. A year from now when Rivera is retired and enjoying his life with his family, Robertson just may be the guy called on regularly to get those last important outs.

Cano knocked out of All-Star Game; Mo honored

How bad has the Yankees’ luck been this year? In terms of health, I mean. The disabled list has been almost as crowded as the dugout. Even in the All-Star Game, the Yankees could not stay healthy.

Robinson Cano, the American League second baseman and one of the few Yankees regulars to stay on the field all season, made an early exit Tuesday night from Citi Field. Cano, the second hitter in the AL order, came up after a leadoff double by the Angels’ Mike Trout and was struck on the side of his right knee by a 96-miles-per-hour fastball from Mets righthander Matt Harvey.

Cano winced in pain and tried to stay in the game. He went to first base but after Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera struck out Cano came off the field and was replaced by pinch runner Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. As Cano walked off the field, he had a friendly exchange with Harvey.

“He said, ‘My bad,’ ” Cano said. “I said, ‘No problem.’ I know he don’t want to hit nobody. It’s part of the game, so what can you do?”

This is just what the Yankees did not need. Managers across baseball watch the All-Star Game with trepidation and hope one of their players does not get hurt. Harvey, the National League starting pitcher who pitched two scoreless innings, said, “I feel bad. I didn’t mean to hit Cano.”

X-rays on Cano’s knee were negative.

“It’s a little tight, but I’m walking good,” Cano said. “You want to play the game and enjoy the nice city in New York with the fans, but that’s part of life. Got to get it better and take it easy. Yeah, I’ll be good for Friday.”

“Obviously, the last thing I wanted to do was go out there and possibly injure somebody,” Harvey said. “As [Cano] was walking by, I was trying to get his attention as he was going to first. He then came off the field, and I apologized and made sure that he was okay. I think he understood that it wasn’t intentional.”

Cano had been enjoying himself at the All-Star Game as opposed to a year ago at Kansas City when he was the target of booing from local fans because as captain of the AL Home Run Derby squad he did not name the Royals’ Billy Butler to the team. Cano got revenge Monday night as a player he promoted for the Home Run Derby team even though he was not on the All-Star squad, Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, won the competition.

Not surprisingly considering the Yankees-Mets rivalry, Cano was booed by most people in the Citi Field crowd in pregame introductions. Conversely, Mariano Rivera was accorded a healthy ovation. In a lot of ways, Mo is his generation’s Yogi Berra, the one Yankee that even fans who hate the Yankees like.

The best was yet to come for Mo. To guarantee that Rivera would pitch in the game, AL manager Jim Leyland of the Tigers put him in the game in the eighth inning. After all, if the NL had gone ahead in the bottom of the eighth and held the lead then there would have been no bottom of the ninth.

Rivera was treated with another standing ovation as he trotted to the mound to his usual entrance song, “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica. When he reached the rubber, Rivera was the only player on the field as the players from both sides stood on the top steps of the dugouts and joined the crowd in showing their appreciation to the game’s all-time saves leader who is calling it a career at the end of this season at the age of 43.

It was quite a sight. Mo acknowledged the applause by removing his cap and waving to each portion of the crowd. Mariano retired the side in order and was given the game ball by first baseman Prince Fielder after the third out of the inning. It was a more pleasant final appearance at Citi Field than the May 28 Subway Series game when he sustained his first blown save of the season in a stunning loss to the Mets.

Mo Mariano Rivera (USA Today photo)

“I wanted to pitch in the game and in baseball anything can happen,” Rivera said of pitching in the eighth instead of the ninth. “The plan worked out perfectly. This was right up there with winning the World Series. To do this in New York with all the fans here and all the players and the coaches and the managers standing in the dugouts. . .that was priceless.”

There turned out to be a bottom of the ninth inning as the AL had a 3-0 lead. Rangers closer Joe Nathan worked the ninth and can always say he earned a save in a game after Mariano Rivera had pitched, which had not happened since 1996 when Mo was the setup man for Yanks closer John Wetteland.

Rivera was voted the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player and was able to thank the fans and told them it was a “privilege” to pitch in front of them all these years. Let’s face it, fans, the privilege was ours to watch him.

Good news and a victory for a change

Yankees fans needed some good news Sunday and they got it two-fold. Father’s Day for the Bombers began with the report from New York than an MRI on the tendon sheath of Mark Teixeira’s right wrist revealed inflammation, not a tear. Talk about a sigh of relief. Had there been a re-tear, the first baseman would have required surgery and been out for the remainder of the season. Tex received a cortisone injection and could be back in the lineup by Wednesday.

The second round of favorable news was the final score of the West Coast swing finale: Yanks 6, Angels 5. The Yankees needed that victory like, well, your father needs soft shoes. Of course, it was a victory that did not come easily. They had to sweat through a ninth inning where even the peerless Mariano Rivera was taxed.

Before Mo won a duel with Albert Pujols by striking out the three-time former Most Valuable Player with the bases loaded, the Yankees were on the verge of blowing all of a six-run lead that would have made the cross-country flight back to New York as bumpy a ride as most of the trip had been in which the Yankees were 4-6 and came perilously close to dropping into fourth place in the American League East.

CC Sabathia exhibited his ace credentials with eight scoreless innings. He achieved not only dominance over the Angels but also spared a weary bullpen. The lefthander was working on a four-hit shutout entering the ninth when he gave up a leadoff double to Mike Trout and walked Pujols.

David Robertson couldn’t put out the fire. He gave up a single to Mark Trumbo that ended the shutout and a one-out walk before Rivera was summoned to clean things up. In what likely was his last appearance at Angel Stadium, Mo was unfortunately off his game. He got a quick out on a grounder by Eric Aybar that scored LA’s second run, but Albert Callaspo singled in two runs, and Brad Hawpe and Peter Bourjos followed with singles that led to another run that shrunk the Yanks’ lead to merely one run. A walk to Trout filled the bases for Pujols.

Rivera went with some high octane gas (94 miles per hour) to strike out the guy who presented him with a portrait the day before on behalf of the Angels on three pitches. Mo’s 24th save in 25 opportunities was truly earned and avoided what would have been a disastrous loss.

After suffering through a five-game losing streak in which the Yankees scored only 12 runs in 54 innings, to have the bullpen fail on a day when the offense came alive would have been a wound too deep to heal. For the first time in four games, the Yankees scored in more than one inning.

They put up a five spot in the third against Jered Weaver with all the runs scoring after two were out. Travis Hafner snapped a trip-long slump (0-for-23) with a three-run home run to left center. The Yankees kept it up against Weaver on a single by Vernon Wells, a double by Lyle Overbay and a single by Jayson Nix for two more runs.

As it turned out, the run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Wells proved valuable insurance.

Cano to captain AL Home Run Derby squad again

Robinson Cano probably won’t run into the same problem next month that he had a year ago in Kansas City when he was the captain of the American League team in the Home Run Derby the night before the All-Star Game. You may remember all the booing Cano endured throughout the competition when he was shut out trying to reach the fences.

But that was not why Cano was the object of scorn for fans at Kauffman Stadium. The Yankees second baseman was targeted because he did not include the Royals’ Billy Butler on the squad. Cano’s selections in addition to himself were Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder and Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo. It was a pretty strong group, but the KC faithful were unforgiving to the point that Cano was still booed last month when the Yankees played at Kauffman Stadium.

“You play for the Yankees, everywhere you go you get booed,” he said.

A similar situation should be avoided this year. Once again, Cano has been named AL captain for the Home Run Derby that will take place July 15, the night before the All-Star Game at Citi Field. The venue this time, however, should keep Cano from getting hammered by fans except, of course, for the usual Bronx cheers reserved for Yankees players from Mets fans. Those who cheer for the Mets cannot get on Cano for his choices, however, because their favorites are in the other league.

The choice of Mets third baseman David Wright as the National League captain takes care of the possibility that the host team will be snubbed at the Home Run Derby. This was a good call by the powers that be in Major League Baseball. Wright is among the most popular players in Mets history and one of the truly good guys in the game. Whatever he decides will win approval from the Mets faithful.

Each captain has the task of selecting three other hitters from his league to compete in the Home Run Derby. Though the event is an individual competition, the leagues are pitted against each other in teams of four. Cano did not clear the fences himself last year, but his AL team clobbered the NL overall, 61-21. The individual winner was Fielder, once of Cano’s picks. Cano won the competition in 2011 at Chase Field in Phoenix. Cano entered play Tuesday night with 15 home runs, tied for fifth in the AL. Wright had eight with only one coming at Citi Field May 27 against the Yankees off Phil Hughes.

Fans may once again participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. You will have the opportunity to select three players in each league. All-Star voting is also still underway. Cano is currently the leader among AL second basemen. Wright ranks second at third base behind the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval. Fans may submit 25 online ballots during the voting period and can earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots.

To access additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, visit http://www.mlb.com and register in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.

Jeter earns hits distinction with Aaron

All season long Derek Jeter has marched past Hall of Famers on the all-time hits and runs lists. Saturday was one of those days. In the Yankees’ 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays, Jeter singled and doubled. The two hits raised his total for the season to 150, second highest in the major leagues only to former teammate Melky Cabrera, who has 154 for the Giants.

It marked the 17th consecutive season that Jeter has had at least 150 hits. So what is the big deal about that? Well, the Elias Sports Bureau, which keeps all the game’s numbers, reports that only one other player in history had 17 straight years of 150 or more hits, and that player was Henry Aaron, from 1955-71 for the Braves.

The record-tying hit was a two-out, run-scoring double to right-center in the sixth inning off former teammate Aaron Laffey that scored Casey McGehee, who had doubled with one out. It was McGehee’s first big day for the Yankees since his arrival from Pittsburgh 10 days ago in a trade for relief pitcher Chad Qualls. McGehee also got his first home run for the Yankees with a three-run blast to left in the fourth inning.

Like most new guys who come to the Yankees, McGehee has learned to appreciate Jeter even more as a player now that he is a teammate. “The approach he takes never wavers,” McGehee said of the Captain. “It’s a pleasure to play alongside him.”

Jeter, who is batting .315 overall, ranks third in the majors with 46 multi-hit games, one more than his total from all of last year. He is batting .379 with four home runs in 103 at-bats leading off games and .364 in 140 at-bats against left-handed pitching. His .345 batting average on the road in 249 at-bats is second in the American League only to Angels rookie Mike Trout (.348).

The most positive aspect of the Yankees’ fourth straight victory Saturday was the work of Ivan Nova, who pitched one out into the eighth inning and allowed two earned runs, five hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts. He was a bit erratic with two hit batters and a balk, but it was an outing that gave the Yankees some encouragement at a time when it is needed since CC Sabathia had to be placed on the 15-day disabled because of soreness in his left elbow.

Nova displayed effective curves and sliders consistently, which had been missing from his recent starts. His record went to 11-6 with the victory, his first after five winless outings and his second over his past 10 starts.

It was a strong game all around for the Yankees. Second baseman Robinson Cano made a splendid play to rob Moises Sierra of a potential run-scoring hit to end the sixth inning, and center fielder Curtis Granderson concluded the seventh with a back-to-the-infield, one-handed grab of a long drive by Adeiny Hecchavarria.

The Toronto bullpen held the Yankees hitless over the final 3 1/3 innings, but the Yanks’ pen was equally efficient. David Robertson got two outs with his only pitch in getting Omar Vizquel on a double play in the eighth. Rafael Soriano earned his 28th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

So after losing the first two games in Detroit, the Yankees have a chance to close out this Great Lakes trip at 5-2 Sunday with Phil Hughes going against the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ for some momentum heading into a challenging homestand upcoming against Texas and Boston.

Sabathia had been scheduled to start Monday night against the Rangers, but inflammation in his pitching elbow caused him to be shut down. It is the second stint on the DL for Sabathia, whose previous injury was to his left groin. CC felt stiffness after his start Wednesday night against the Tigers when he came out of the game in the seventh inning.

Hustling for runs a great sign

For the second time this homestand, Mark Teixeira’s hustle helped the Yankees build a run. The first baseman, not known for his foot speed, hit into the over-shift the Mariners were employing against him, but second baseman Kyle Seager was so deep in right field that Tex has a chance to beat the play at first, which he did for a single as Derek Jeter scored the tying run from third.

Against the Red Sox in the Yankees’ first game of the homestand, Teixeira busted down the line to avoid grounding into an inning-ending double play and kept the inning alive for Raul Ibanez, who followed with a two-run home run. In that case, Tex’s hustle resulted in three runs for the Yankees. No one ever tires of watching players go all-out on the field.

Dave Winfield was the best I ever saw in that regard. The big guy was always in full-throttle mode. He agreed with Joe DiMaggio’s philosophy that somebody in the stands might be seeing him for the first time and he didn’t want that person to think he loafed. Jeter, who grew up a big Winfield fan, is the same way. It was nice to hear Angels rookie center fielder Mike Trout make that point about Jeter last month.

It is a quality that should rub off on more players.

Granderson at ‘center’ of comeback attempt

Curtis Granderson just had to get up in the ninth inning with a chance to win Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium, didn’t he? I mean, that was just poetic justice.

That it actually happened was pretty surprising, considering that the Yankees needed a big rally to keep the line moving to Granderson, who was the eighth batter of the inning. The game had been quite a showcase for Granderson, who made two sparkling catches in center field and had a couple of hits, including his 24th home run which at the time – the sixth inning – got the Yankees within a run of the Angels.

By the time the Yanks came up for last licks, they were down by five runs, however. The Angels matched the Yankees in home runs with four, but an eighth-inning rally against reliever Chad Qualls contained none of them. Mark Trumbo’s homer off D.J. Mitchell in the top of the ninth seemed unnecessary until the Yankees kept putting runners on base in the bottom half.

Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, who had not allowed a run in 26 1/3 innings since joining the Angels from the Blue Jays May 5, walked two batters and gave up a two-run homer to Mark Teixeira that forced Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia to make a move to lefthander Scott Downs, who lost Friday night’s game.

Raul Ibanez’s single that tore Downs’ glove off was a bad omen for Downs, but he came back to strike out pinch hitter Andruw Jones and retire Russell Martin on a fielder’s choice. A four-pitch walk to Derek Jeter brought the moment those remaining in the Stadium crowd of 46,679 longed for.

Granderson gave the fans plenty to cheer for with an eight-pitch at-bat that included a loud foul that had everyone gasping. Granderson worked a hard-earned walk that forced in a run that got the Yankees to 10-8.

“Downs has always been tough on me,” Granderson said. “I was hoping to get a ball up in the zone, but when I got one I fouled it off. The crowd got excited, but I knew it was foul when I hit it.”

Alex Rodriguez, who had started the Yankees’ scoring in the first inning with a two-run home run following a Granderson single, had several good cuts in his duel with righthander Kevin Jepsen but eventually ended the game by fouling out to first baseman Albert Pujols.

“It was an awesome situation,” Rodriguez said. “You want to be in that situation. I took some good swings but had a lousy result.”

The Yankees lead the majors with comeback victories at 29. Had this been No. 30, it would have been very satisfying. For the second straight day, they erased a 2-0, first-inning deficit. Starting pitcher Ivan Nova struggled through his six-plus innings without an effective breaking pitch and falling behind in counts with his fastball that made his changeup useless.

Nova could have had it worse if not for Granderson. His back-to-the-infield, one-handed grab of a drive by fellow center fielder Mike Trout in the third inning was right out of the Willie Mays handbook.

“I knew it was past me, and I wasn’t sure I could get underneath it,” Granderson said. “I looked and saw that I had more room than I thought between me and the wall. The wall out there is solid concrete, so even with the padding it is pretty hard.”

“It was an unbelievable catch,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Trout has taken so many hits away from us; it was nice to see one taken away from him.”

Granderson also made a fine, diving catch in right center to Alberto Callaspo of an extra-base hit that became a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

So it was fitting that he got the chance to make a terrific individual game complete by taking part in the ninth-inning rally. Granderson certainly did his part.

Yanks get 2nd half off to rousing start

What a way to start the second half. The Yankees’ come-from-behind, 6-5 victory over the Angels Friday night was satisfying in so many ways, not the least of which was the effort of Russell Martin, who had a miserable first half at the plate but who got the second half off to an encouraging start with perhaps his best all-around game of the year.

Yes, I can hear the snickering out there. Martin didn’t have to do much to have his best game, but his manager, a former catcher himself, saw a lot he liked just a few days after the two had talked things out behind closed doors. Joe Girardi decided not to pinch-hit for Martin when it appeared called for in the bottom of the eighth inning and was rewarded for the call as Martin hit a broken-bat single to right field to drive in the deciding run.

“I feel a lot better than I did before the game,” said Martin, who took a .179 batting average into the game that rose slightly to .181 with the hit. “I was hoping he wouldn’t pinch-hit for me, but if he did I would have understood.”

Girardi had sent Alex Rodriguez up to bat for Martin in the ninth inning last Saturday night at Boston in a blowout loss to the Red Sox. A message? Perhaps. Girardi did not say. Friday night was different, however.

“I had no thoughts of pinch hitting for him,” Girardi said. “I liked what I saw of him tonight.”

That included Martin’s work behind the plate. He threw out three runners on the basepaths and guided Hiroki Kuroda through six innings of one-run, two-hit pitching before Mark Trumbo put the Yankees in a hole from which Martin and Mark Teixeira eventually helped the Yanks escape.

Teixeira, who also had some glum times early in the first half, had a monster night with two home runs and five RBI. Think of the damage the Yankees can do if these two guys get back on all cylinders.

I don’t know if anyone from Kansas City was watching Friday night’s Yankees-Angels game, but they would have seen why Trumbo was one of the sluggers Robinson Cano chose over the Royals’ Billy Butler for the American League team in the All-Star Home Run Derby.

Trumbo, who beat the Yankees with a ninth-inning home run May 28 at Anaheim, pounded a drive into the bleachers in left-center field at Yankee Stadium for a three-run home run that cost Kuroda the lead in the seventh inning. Trumbo’s 23rd home run of the season was as impressive a blow as any he hit at Kauffman Stadium Monday night in the event that stirred the passion of Royals fans who booed Cano for two days there because of their perceived slight of Butler.

Kuroda, who beat the Angels in the Yankees’ home opener in April and was trying to get the second half off to a similar start, entered the seventh working on a two-hitter with a 2-1 lead. Albert Pujols, who has righted himself since that terrible start back in April, began the inning with a single to left-center.

Kuroda asked for trouble by hitting Kendrys Morales with a two-strike pitch prior to having to face Trumbo, who has become one of the most feared hitters in the majors. The long home run off Kuroda made it five consecutive games against the Yankees for Trumbo.

The Yankees had taken away the 1-0 lead Eric Aybar provided with a home run in the third when Teixeira connected for his 16th home run in the bottom of the inning. Scoring ahead of Tex was Derek Jeter with career run No. 1,817 to push him past Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski into 16th place on the all-time list.

The Yanks wasted a prime scoring opportunity in the sixth when Curtis Granderson led off with a triple on a failed diving catch attempt by Angels center fielder Mike Trout but died at third as Teixeira, Rodriguez and Cano could not get the ball out of the infield.

The seventh was nearly the same, but again C.J. Wilson worked out of trouble. Nick Swisher led off with a double to left and crossed to third on Andruw Jones’ flyout to the warning track in right field. Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo made a good recovery on a tricky grounder by Martin to get the second out and Jayson Nix struck out leaving Swish stranded at third.

All that changed in the eighth after the Angels had increased their advantage to 5-2 on doubles by Trout and Pujols. Trumbo made a strong bid for another homer, but Swisher caught the ball on a leap in front of the right field auxiliary scoreboard.

The Yankees struck quickly in the bottom of the eighth against lefthander Scott Downs, who had allowed only one earned run all season in 30 innings but ended up allowing four runs that cost his team the game. Jeter doubled, Granderson walked and Teixeira went boom again, a three-run bomb that tied the score.

Even after two were out, the Yankees were not done. Downs’ last batter was Swisher, who walked. DeWayne Wise ran for Swish and got a big stolen base. With first base open, Angels manager Mike Scioscia had Raul Ibanez walked intentionally after the count got to three balls.

I must admit that I expected Eric Chavez to hit for Martin in that spot. Chavez grabbed a bat and went back to the cage because he had told he would hit for Jayson Nix if Martin kept the rally going. Martin did more than that. The Yankees truly hope he can continue along that line.

Derek and the new kids on the block

We tend to think of Derek Jeter as a perennial kid. His enthusiasm for the game is infectious. But there is no changing the clock. The Captain is 38 years old, which is twice the age of one of the two baseball phenoms who have entered the major leagues this year, outfielders Mike Trout of the Angels and Bryce Harper of the Nationals.

Both were on display Tuesday night in Kansas City at the All-Star Game where few teenagers have had the opportunity to compete. Trout was at Yankee Stadium Friday night with the Angels for the start of a three-game, weekend series and invoked Jeter several times in talking about his “homecoming.” The New Jersey native visited the old Yankee Stadium as a youngster, but this marked his first time playing on the Bronx patch.

“I was a shortstop and always batted leadoff,” said Trout, who still bats leadoff but now plays center field. “I patterned myself after Jeter, the way he goes about his business and always hustling. I’m the same way. I think that’s the only way to play the game.”

Jeter has now reached the point where he was the role model for players coming into the game. It started six years ago with the arrival of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who proudly wears No. 2 in honor of Jeter.

Trout noted that he was befriended by Jeter at the All-Star Game. While taking batting practice, he turned to the side and saw Jeter and White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn looking at him and making a gesture with their hands over their hearts.

“It was their way of wondering if I was nervous,” Trout said. “I was, but they helped calm me down.”

Trout has something else in common with Jeter. He is a winner. The Angels got off to a 6-14 start that cost hitting coach Mickey Hatcher his job. Since Trout was called up from Triple A and installed in the Los Angeles lineup, the Angels have gone 42-24 entering play Friday night.

Yanks avoid getting swept by Angels

It was hard not to get that here-we-go-ahead feeling in the first inning Wednesday night when Curtis Granderson doubled with one out and was stranded at second as Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano struck out. Two more fruitless at-bats with a runner in scoring position was a poor early sign for the Yankees.

The Angels struggled just as much in that circumstance in the bottom half. They loaded the bases against Ivan Nova on a hit batter, a single and a walk with none out and made the least of it with merely one run on a sacrifice fly by Mark Trumbo, who would do much more damage later on.

The Yankees finally got a hit with a runner in scoring position in the third on Granderson’s 16th home run, a three-run shot to right off Ervin Santana. After Santana struck A-Rod with a pitch, Cano slammed a two-run homer to right. It was the fifth career homer for each off Santana, who seemed headed for an early exit but eventually made it through five innings.

Ivan Nova could not have been in a better situation, but for the second time in this series a Yankees starter could not hold an early lead. Phil Hughes squandered a 3-0 lead Monday night, and Nova spit out the 5-1 advantage in the fourth. A leadoff walk spelled trouble, particularly since it came in front of Trumbo, who turned around a 95-mph fastball for a two-run home run to right.

The Yankees had had their fill of Trumbo, who won Monday night’s game with a ninth-inning home run, also homered Tuesday night and had the Yankees nervous when he had a chance to win Wednesday night’s game in the ninth again. For the series, Trumbo had 8-for-15 (.533) with one double, one triple, three home runs and six RBI.

The Angels kept it up against Nova. A well-placed bunt by catcher Bobby Wilson in front of Rodriguez playing deep at third base gave the Angels runners at first and second with two out. Both scored on a double to right-center by Mike Trout, which gave him four RBI in the series, to make it 5-5.

Wilson might not have been able to score except that right fielder Nick Swisher missed both cutoff men. Swish made up for the rock two innings later by regaining the lead for the Yankees on a sacrifice fly that scored Raul Ibanez, who tripled off reliever Hisanori Takahashi. It was poetic justice for Swisher, who was robbed of a home run and another extra- base hit by Angels outfielders Tuesday night.

Nova didn’t cough up the lead this time and ended up extending his unbeaten streak on the road to 13 starts during which he is 10-0 with a 3.61 ERA. He lasted two outs into the seventh and got huge backup support from Cory Wade after Boone Logan allowed a pair of two-out singles upon Nova’s departure.

Wade, who gave up the game-winner to Trumbo Monday night, struck out Howie Kendrick to end the seventh and pitched a perfect eighth with two more punchouts. Rafael Soriano had to sweat for his sixth save as the Angels had runners on first and second with two out and Trumbo at the plate. No heroics this time as he flied out to left.

Despite losing two of the three games in Anaheim, the Yankees pulled to 1 ½ games of the first-place Orioles and Rays in the American League East. The Yanks also stayed a half-game ahead of the hard-charging Blue Jays, who swept a three-game set from Baltimore.