With two thrilling victories for the Angels to begin this series against the Yankees, a late Wednesday afternoon showdown before an off-day Thursday would tell the tale if a sweep and .500 record could be celebrated on the first day of September. However, dominant pitching by ace Gerrit Cole would prove too much as the Yankees salvaged the series finale at the Big A by the final of 4-1.
Right off the bat, an intriguing pitching matchup brewed as rookie Packy Naughton made his first career start against AL Cy Young candidate Gerrit Cole. Naughton, who is the 15th different Angel to start a game this season, got off to a great start by inducing a double play off the bat of Anthony Rizzo in the first inning and recording consecutive strikeouts of Kyle Higashioka and Rougned Odor to end the second frame. The southpaw could not finesse his way out of a two-out jam in the third, yielding a two-run single up the middle to Luke Voit, giving the pinstripes a 2-0 lead.
As the Yankees smelt blood in the water, they knocked Naughton around again in the fourth with two-outs as Brett Gardner slapped an RBI Single into center, scoring Odor for a 3-0 lead and officially closing the book on the Angels starter.
Packy Naughton’s Final Line: 3.2 IP | 6 H | 3 ER | 2 BB | 2 K (4.00 ERA)
The Angels finally broke through the tough exterior of Cole in the bottom of the sixth with a David Fletcher RBI Double splitting the left and center fielder and bringing Jack Mayfield all the way home from first after he singled to leadoff the inning.
This run snapped a 21.2 scoreless innings streak for the right-hander, which was the longest span of shutout innings in his career. With the deficit cut to 3-1 and a runner in scoring position, the Angels 2-3-4 hitters (Ohtani, Gosselin and Walsh) all went down swinging to give Cole a total of 13 strikeouts through six innings.
Before Cole headed back out to the mound for the seventh inning, Fletcher proved once again why the American League Second Base Gold Glove Award should already be adding his nameplate to the trophy. A defensive gem is great, but when it makes you jump out of your seat and say “Wow”, it easily looked something like this:
In the home half of the seventh, the former UCLA Bruin wrapped up his night in emphatic fashion by fanning two more Angel baters (Marsh and Stassi) totaling his second-highest career strikeout performance with 15, while delivering his 17 quality start this season in 116 pitches (78 strikes).
Adding insult to injury, the “Bronx Bombers” put the cherry on top in the eighth as Aaron Judge connected on his 30th home run of the season, furthering their advantage to 4-1. Yankee relievers Jonathan Loaisiga and Aroldis Chapman picked up right where Cole left off by combining to retire the final six (12 total when you add Cole retiring his final six batters faced) and preventing a sweep at the hands of a sub .500 Halos squad.
All is not lost in today’s losing effort since the Angels picked up the series win and most of all won a season series against the “Evil Empire” for the first time since 2017. After a relaxing day off tomorrow, the Angels nine-game homestand continues as AL West foe Texas Rangers come to town for Labor Day weekend. The series kicks off in a “SHO”tastic way as AL MVP frontrunner Shohei Ohtani (8-1, 3.00 ERA) gets set for his fourth matchup against the Rangers this season. He will be opposed by fellow right-hander Glenn Otto (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who is making just his second career start in the majors after being acquired from the Yankees in the Joey Gallo trade this past trade deadline.
Angels News & Notes
- Today’s Transactions: RHP Oliver Ortega selected to the Angels, INF Luis Rengifo recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake and LHP Patrick Sandoval transferred to 60-Day Injured List
- With the loss, the Angels finish the 2021 season 16-17 against the AL East division