Be it Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson or Mark Teixeira. Or even Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez or Eric Chavez. Up and down their lineup, the Yankees pose quite a dilemma for even the best pitchers these days.
It’s hard to pitch around a homer-happy ballclub that’s in a groove.
Cano and Granderson provided the pop Saturday, each hitting two-run homers off Jerome Williams to lead New York over the Los Angeles Angels 5-3.
”I think this team is playing about as well as it can because we’re getting contributions from a lot of different guys,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The pitching staff is doing its part, too.
Freddy Garcia and three relievers kept Mark Trumbo in the ballpark, denying him a homer in a record sixth straight game against the Yankees.
Cody Eppley, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano combined for four innings of two-hit ball. Soriano struck out Albert Pujols to finish off a perfect ninth and notch his 22nd save in 23 chances.
”The nature of the bullpen is we’re real competitive,” Eppley said after pitching two innings. ”We expect to get the job done every day.”
The Yankees moved a season-high 21 games over .500 at 54-33. They have hit a major league-leading 138 home runs.
”One through nine, they can bang,” Angels rookie Mike Trout said.
Swisher, who appeared to rob Trumbo of a second longball Friday night in helping New York rally late for a win, made another leaping catch at the right-field wall. His flashy grab of Howie Kendrick’s drive to end the fifth inning, however, would have landed on the warning track.
Cano added an RBI single that bounced high off second base in the sixth to help the Yankees secure a second straight winning season against their nemesis. The victory improved their record against the Angels to 5-3 this year with one more game to go. Prior to their 5-4 mark in 2011, New York had not won a season series against the Angels since 2003.
Cano’s two-out drive in the first off Williams (6-6) hit off the top of the wall in left-center and bounced into the Angels’ bullpen and made it 2-all. Cano’s 21st homer gave him a 17-game hitting streak.
”You want to support your starter right away,” Cano said, ”do the little things.”
Granderson connected for his 24th home run with one out in the third after Chris Stewart singled leading off.
Activated from the disabled list before the game, Williams gave up five runs and seven hits in six innings. He hadn’t pitched since June 18. Right after being pulled from that outing, Williams experienced dizziness and shortness of breath from a suspected asthma attack that landed him in the hospital.
”Although he gave up a couple of home runs, pitched better than his line score shows,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ”He had good stuff today.”
Garcia (4-2) labored through five innings, walking a season-high five, allowing five hits and throwing 98 pitches. It was his shortest start in three outings since moving back into the rotation when Andy Pettitte broke his leg.
The right-hander walked the leadoff batter in each of the third through fifth innings yet only gave up one run in that span, on Bobby Wilson’s grounder to shortstop in the fourth. The Angels stole three bases in that inning, two by Trout.
With those steals, Trout became the first Angels rookie since Chad Curtis in 1992 to reach 30 steals.
Garcia played it safe with Trumbo in the first and Alberto Callaspo made him pay. With two outs and runners on second and third, Trumbo walked to load the bases. Callaspo followed with a two-run single.
”Those guys don’t swing at a bad pitch,” Garcia said. ”They’re a pretty tough lineup.”
Trumbo became the first player to homer in five straight games against New York since Albert Belle in 1994 when he hit a three-run shot Friday. He was 0 for 3 with a walk Saturday.
”They weren’t going to let him beat them,” Girardi said.
NOTES: The Angels had optioned LHP Brad Mills to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Williams. … Yankees RHP Joba Chamberlain (ankle) struck out two in a two-inning rehab outing for the team’s rookie club in the Gulf Coast League. … Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (groin) played catch Saturday and said he felt good and was still on track to start Tuesday against Toronto. … The Yankees improved to 55-61 against the Angels since 2000.