ANAHEIM — Frustrated with the way he’d been pitching, Michael Pineda spiked the ball into the ground after catching it at first for the final out of the fifth inning, doing his best Rob Gronkowski impersonation.
“We had a lot of emotion in the game,” Pineda said. “I was just keeping my energy going and doing the best (I can). That’s it.”
The Angels lit up Pineda like the tree outside of Angels Stadium of Anaheim for the team’s Christmas in June celebration, scoring five runs on 10 hits against him. The 28-year-old righty did manage to somehow get through six innings. He put up zeroes in his final three frames after keeping his front shoulder more closed and attacking. Still, it was too little, too late.
“His location just wasn’t too good tonight,” Joe Girardi said.
The Angels ultimately beat the Yankees 7-5 in the rubber game of their three-game series on Wednesday night.
Andrelton Simmons delivered a go-ahead two-run homer with two outs in the seventh inning off Ronald Herrera, who was making his MLB debut. Herrera was called up from Double-A Trenton to help a bullpen Joe Girardi described as “fried” before the game. Herrera had flown from Hartford to Philadelphia to Los Angeles in order to make it to the ballpark. “It’s really what I had,” Girardi said. “I can’t hurt guys.”
The Angels actually got to celebrate twice. With two outs in the ninth, Aaron Hicks hit a fly ball to deep right that appeared to be caught by a leaping Kole Calhoun. The fireworks went off. The Anaheim players shook hands. But following a replay review, the initial call was overturned. Aaron Judge came up, but grounded out to end the game. The celebration was back on.
Judge now returns home on Thursday as the Yankees open up a four-game series in Oakland. Judge grew up 85 miles east of the city in Linden, Calif. “It’s going to be fun, and I’m excited my friends and family are going to be there to see me play the game I love,” Judge said.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Aaron Hicks made an incredible leaping catch in center to take a Grand Slam away from Luis Valbuena with one out in the first inning. It saved three runs.
The Yankees’ first two hitters reached in the seventh inning. Aaron Judge followed with a lined shot to left, but series Yankee Killer Eric Young Jr. dove to make the catch. Matt Holliday then popped up and Starlin Castro struck out to end the threat.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Red-hot Gary Sanchez had three hits — including a 441-foot three-run homer with two outs in the first inning. Sanchez now has seven homers in his last 11 games.
STAT OF THE GAME
Michael Pineda is 6-1 with a 1.96 ERA at home and 1-2 with a 6.25 ERA on the road. Didi Gregorius extend his hit streak to 16 consecutive games with an infield single in the fourth inning.
Chase Headley had two hits and made a couple outstanding defensive plays. Headley now has seven hits in his last four games.
Usually reliable third-base coach Joe Espada had a rough evening. Espada decided to send Aaron Judge home on Starlin Castro’s two-out single in the fifth inning. The only problem was, Judge wasn’t even at third yet and Eric Young Jr. already had the ball in left. Judge was thrown out by a mile. The Yankees could’ve had the bases loaded for Gary Sanchez.
Thursday at Oakland, 10:05 p.m. ET, Jordan Montgomery (4-4, 3.55 ERA) vs. Sonny Gray (2-2, 4.37)