ANAHEIM – The B-squad turned back into the A-team on Sunday.
Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay turned back the clock to April, leading the Yankees to a 6-5 win over the Angels to snap a five-game losing streak and send the Yankees back to the Bronx on a high note.
“This is the group that got us 12 games over, basically,” Joe Girardi said. “There are a few changes, but it’s basically the same group. They’re capable of doing it, of putting together a good run. That’s what we need to do.”
After scoring only four runs during the first two games of the series, the Yankees exploded for five runs in the third inning against Jered Weaver, handing CC Sabathia a lead he would never relinquish.
Travis Hafner snaps and 0-23 slump with a three-run HR in the 3rd inning.
Sabathia (7-5) fired eight-plus innings of two-run ball, bouncing back nicely from his subpar effort Tuesday in Oakland. The big southpaw gave up five hits and walked three, striking out six as he won for the third time in four starts.
The Yankees carried a 6-0 lead into the ninth inning, but the Angels made things interesting with five runs in the inning, including three straight hits against Mariano Rivera after he took over for Dave Robertson.
Rivera got the last laugh, striking out Albert Pujols with the bases loaded to end the game as he picked up his 24th save in what will likely be his final career appearance in Anaheim.
With Mark Teixeira back in New York receiving a cortisone shot for his injured wrist and Kevin Youkilis on the disabled list for the second time with a back injury, the Yankees’ second-string lineup tried to avoid its second three-game sweep in a row.
“It’s the B-squad back in action,” hitting coach Kevin Long joked after Saturday’s loss.
Vernon Wells scores on an RBI double by Lyle Overbay.
Hafner’s big homer was the key hit of the day, though Jayson Nix added three more hits. Six different Yankees scored runs as the Bombers tallied more than two runs in a game for only the third time in the past nine games.
Things looked bleak after the first inning, as the Yankees failed to push a run across despite having runners at second and third with nobody out, then bases loaded with one out. Vernon Wells grounded into an inning-ending double play to kill the rally, taking Weaver (1-3) off the hook.
A leadoff walk by Chris Stewart and a single by Brett Gardner put runners at the corners with nobody out in the third, giving the Yankees another golden opportunity. Weaver struck out Ichiro Suzuki and got Robinson Cano out on a shallow fly ball, leaving it up to Hafner to avoid another big wasted inning.
Hafner – who was mired in an 0-for-23 slump – fell behind with two quick strikes, but he ripped a 1-2 slider over the center-field wall for a 3-0 lead. It was his 11th home run of the season, his first away from Yankee Stadium since May 20.
Overbay added an RBI double, then Nix singled in Overbay to cap the five-run inning against Weaver.
Travis Hafner points to the sky after going deep.
The Yankees’ offense fell back into its doldrums after the big inning, collecting only one more hit against Weaver during his six innings. But Sabathia made that a moot point, stepping up in ace-like fashion on a day the Yankees needed him to do exactly that.
Sabathia put the first two Angels on base to open the game, but a double play off the bat of Pujols started a run of 12 straight outs for the big lefty, who didn’t allow another baserunner until the fifth.
Working with a five-run lead by that time, Sabathia gave up a single and a walk to start the fifth, but Erick Aybar hit a sharp grounder to third, where Nix stepped on the bag and fired to second. Chris Ianetta was called out even though replay showed he beat the throw, then Sabathia got Alberto Callaspo to ground out back to the mound to end the inning.
Sabathia carried his shutout into the ninth, but a leadoff double by Trout and a Pujols walk ended the starter’s day before he could finish what he started.
Mark Trumbo lined a single off Robertson’s right thigh to score Trout for the Angels’ first run. Robertson fanned Kendrick and walked pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck, loading the bases and bringing Rivera in from the bullpen.
Rivera gave up a run-scoring groundout, then Callaspo two-run single, bringing the Angels within two runs. Pinch-hitter Brad Hawpe singled to put the tying runs on base, then Peter Bourjos singled to make it a one-run game.
Rivera walked Trout to load the bases, setting up a game-defining matchup against Pujols. Rivera closed it out, striking out the three-time MVP to end the game.