For their second win in a row, and third win in their last four games, the Yankees (28-30) beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 6-3, at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Michael Pineda also had his second consecutive solid start after allowing one run in 5.2 while striking out eight and walking none against the Tigers last week.
The Yankees are now 6.5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East, two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for third place in the division and four games out of the second wild card spot. They could be in worse shape in the division and the wild card based on the start they have had to their season.
In Tuesday’s start against the Angels he allowed three runs in seven innings on one homer, two walks and four hits. Pineda, whose ERA was 6.92 on May 28, has lowered his ERA to 6.14 after his two consecutive solid starts where he has showed many signs of improvement.
One positive sign is that Pineda had better velocity on Tuesday since he was able to throw 97mph. He did a good job rebounding from allowing three runs in the fifth – on an RBI single and then a two-run homer by Kole Calhoun – to not allow a run in the sixth or seventh. That’s progress for him because he has often not been able to pitch well again after allowing runs to score.
Pineda said that working with Larry Rothschild has led to him lowering his arm angle to give him better movement on his slider. He has also been able to improve the movement on his cutter. The lower arm angle has led to more side-to-side movement on his slider.
Pineda said that he made this adjustment before his start last week against the Tigers. This arm angle adjustment could help him stay consistent the rest of the season and not have many more starts where he allows five or more runs, which he has done five times this season.
Offensively, the Yankees had 10 hits during the win over the Angels and Alex Rodriguez, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks all had two hits.
Carlos Beltran got the scoring started in the first inning with his homer to left center that drove in Rob Refsnyder. He is in fifth place in the American League with his 15 homers and in 14th place in the league with his 38 RBIs, which are great stats for a 39-year-old. According the Rodriguez, he has been a lifesaver for the team and A-Rod didn’t want to think of where the team would be without the contributions of Beltran.
Later in the first inning, Austin Romine, who has really improved at the plate this season, hit a single that scored Castro to make the score 3-0. He has a .290 average in 69 at-bats.
In the second inning, Refsnyder hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Hicks to give the Yankees all the runs that they would need to beat the Angels. Refsnyder, who has been the starting first baseman the past few games with Mark Teixeira on the DL, only has three hits in his last 16 at-bats, but those three hits were all doubles and he has scored four runs and driven in three in that span.
Then, in the third inning, Castro hit a solo homer off of the foul pole in right. That was Castro’s ninth homer of the season, which is the second most on the team. He has been one of the better performers on the team this season and the Yankees need him to continue to play well on offense and defense.
“This stadium is tailor made for Castro,” Rodriguez said. “He is a guy who can hit .300 and hit 25 homers.”
Rodriguez’s single in the seventh scored the team’s seventh and final run. The 40-year-old designated hitter has 10 hits in 29 at-bats in June (.345), which is a significant improvement than how he was hitting earlier in the season.
He has performed much better at the plate after being on the disabled list from May 4 until May 25. His average was .170 on May 31 and it is now all the way up to .214. It seems like his two weeks off and then his rehab assignment has helped him, and the offense is better with A-Rod hitting like he is right now.
“I feel pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like I am getting shorter to the baseball and not trying to do too much.”
Beltran’s homer on Tuesday was his 1,000th extra-base hit of his likely Hall of Fame career. He is now the fourth switch hitter to reach that milestone, joining Eddie Murray, Chipper Jones and Pete Rose.
The Yankees have two more games against the Angels before continuing their homestand against the Detroit Tigers. Nathan Eovaldi, who had pitched very well in his previous three starts, will look to bounce back from allowing five runs on June 3 against the Orioles.