ANAHEIM – The New York Yankees narrowly avoided their second sweep in as many series when they recorded a 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday afternoon despite a ninth inning scare.
Travis Hafner broke out of an 0-for-23 slump when he ripped a hanging breaking ball into Angel Stadium’s rock formation in center field for a three-run home run – the first by any Yankee since Thursday. Hafner’s blast gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead and opened the floodgates for a five-run third inning that also featured RBIs by Lyle Overbay and Jayson Nix.
“It was good to get a hit,” Hafner told reporters after the game. “This road trip has been brutal for me the last few days. I’ve just been working hard the last couple of days and trying to get back to square one again. It was nice to have some success there and really put up four good at-bats today.”
With a comfortable lead, starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia took over the game and turned in a dominant outing on the mound. The left-hander hurled eight shutout innings and had his eyes on a complete game entering the ninth inning.
However, Sabathia allowed a leadoff double to Mike Trout and walked Albert Pujols, prompting Joe Girardi to pull him in favor of David Robertson. Both players would come around to score in the inning, leaving Sabathia’s final line at two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out six batters.
After Sabathia left, David Robertson allowed a single to Mark Trumbo that gave the Angels their first run. He then struck out Howie Kendrick, but after issuing a walk to pinch hitter J.B. Shuck to load the bases, was removed in favor of Mariano Rivera.
Rivera immediately induced a groundout from Erick Aybar, but it allowed another run to score, making it 6-2 Yankees. Trailing by four runs, Angels hitters produced three consecutive bloop singles into the outfield which brought the score to 6-5 and had Mike Trout coming to the plate.
Trout would work a walk off Rivera, once again loading the bases, though now the tying run was just 90 feet away, with the winning run not far behind as Albert Pujols stepped into the batter’s box. Rivera threw three straight sinkers to Pujols, getting him to strike out on a checked swing to end the game and securing the Yankees’ first victory since last Sunday.
“There’s nowhere to put him,” Rivera said when asked about his approach after the game. “Get him out; that’s the only approach that I had.”
After a west coast trip where the Yankees went 4-6, they return to Yankee Stadium for a two-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. When they return to the field on Tuesday, Phil Hughes (3-5, 4.89 ERA) will be on the mound for the New York Yankees. First pitch will be at 7:05 PM.
Dan is usedview.com’s beat writer for the New York Yankees and the Trenton Thunder. Follow him on Twitter at @danpfeiffer74 for all the latest New York Yankees news.