Sliding Yankees fall to Angels after Aaron Boones urgent plea
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On a sweltering night in which the opposing starting pitcher got sick on the mound, the Yankees found yet another way to make their fans feel ill.
Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani homered in his first at-bat — and DJ LeMahieu’s error led to the go-ahead run in the fifth inning — as the sliding Yanks dropped their fourth straight game Monday, 5-3 to the Angels, before an announced crowd of 25,054 at the Stadium.
Aaron Boone didn’t mince words before the game as his fourth-place team (40-38) returned home following an alarming three-game sweep in Boston. He bluntly stated multiple times that the Yankees’ “season is on the line” entering the four-game series against the Mike Trout-less Halos.
“We’ve had too many ups and downs, we’re in too good of a division to have those ups and downs obviously continue,” Boone said via Zoom. “We can’t afford to play great for two weeks and struggle for a week. Not if we’re going to make up ground.
“We’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the division, obviously. The good news is we are still in complete control of the script. But I don’t think there’s any question moving forward that night in and night out, our season is on the line.”
Boone put the Yankees through infield practice and spring-training style PFP drills (pitchers’ fielding practice) ahead of batting practice, following a sloppy weekend at Fenway that was culminated by a 9-2 loss Sunday with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound.
The Yankees are 7 ¹/₂ games behind Boston in the AL East. Boone said the organization continues to discuss potential changes, but it has remained patient with the hope the team will rediscover the consistency that led to a 13-5 run in mid-May
“I think there is a level of patience that we all have because of the faith we have in our group and each other. But also we’re a team that expects to be really good,” Boone said. “We’re a team that expects to compete for a championship.
“We’re getting to the middle of the season. There’s a lot of calendar that’s gone off the clock already. I don’t think we’ll ever really be accused of not being patient enough. We’re trying to make solid evaluations, make honest evaluations, coupled with the patience that I think we’ve shown and the belief that we have in the guys in that room to do something special. I certainly believe that’s absolutely still in there.”
Ohtani, who is slated to pitch Wednesday night’s game, put Yankees starter Mike King in an early hole as the game’s second batter. He drilled a full-count curveball into the right-field bleachers — with an exit velocity of 117 mph — for his 26th homer of the season to tie Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the major league lead.
King, who had called Ohtani “an absolute freak of nature” on Sunday, also walked Anthony Rendon and gave up a second run on Jared Walsh’s double to left-center.
King didn’t allow another run until the fifth, after the Yankees had tied the score against ailing Angels starter Dylan Bundy. They plated single runs in each of the first two innings on an RBI groundout by Gary Sanchez and a solo homer by Gio Urshela.
Bundy departed with what the Angels later described as heat exhaustion, after vomiting behind the mound with LeMahieu batting with two outs in the second inning.
Bundy’s replacement, Jose Suarez, silenced the Yankees’ bats until the sixth, one inning after the Angels had regained the lead. LeMahieu booted Walsh’s grounder following Rendon’s one-out double to put runners on the corners. He then got handcuffed on Max Stassi’s sharp grounder and only was able to record one out at second base as Rendon scored.
Former Met Juan Lagares added a solo homer against lefty Lucas Luetge one inning later for a 4-2 lead.
Giancarlo Stanton recouped one run with his first homer in 10 games on Suarez’s full-count fastball in the sixth.
The Yanks’ recent spell of sloppiness continued in the eighth, however, even though LeMahieu wasn’t charged with a second error. His relay throw sailed over Gary Sanchez’s head on Jose Iglesias’ RBI double against Chad Green for a 5-3 game.
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