ANAHEIM, Calif. — If you’ve been wondering all season what general manager Jerry Dipoto was envisioning when he put together the 2013 edition of the Los Angeles Angels, you got a glimpse Saturday at what was supposed to look like, but hasn’t — yet.
Tommy Hanson, who recorded eight strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings, and a near-total domination by the bullpen controlled the Yankees offense, which had only six base runners in the game.
For Hanson, though, it was a night he wanted for his team and needed for himself.
He had spent a total of 33 days total on baseball’s bereavement and restricted list in two separate stints to try to deal with the unexpected death of his stepbrother. He was originally out for six days in late April, tried to work through it, but was overcome with grief.
“Everybody said I looked like a zombie out there,” Hanson said, “and I felt like one.” So the right hander — acquired from the Braves for one-time All Star reliever Jordan Walden during the offseason — knew he had to step away from the game for a while.
“I was having mental issues,” Hanson said. “I was just trying to get through it. I didn’t know how to handle it. That was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me. I didn’t know how to cope with it. I just had to deal with the issues going on in my head.”
Judging by Saturday’s performance, it looks like Hanson has a pretty good grip on his life right now.
“We always knew that if Tommy stayed healthy, he had a chance to be a very good pitcher for us,” said Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia. “He had some health challenges the past couple of seasons, but he’s been in real good shape this year. Unfortunately there was the death of his brother this year, and Tommy knew he had all the time he needed to deal with it.”
And if his win over the Yankees is any indication, it looks like the 26-year-old right hander could be a key if the Angels are to get back into the race for a playoff spot. They trail Oakland by 10 games in the AL West.
On the Angels’ offensive side, a pair of RBIs from Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar, to go along with single tallies off the bats of Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick, gave the team more than enough. Kendrick was 3 for 3 to raise his batting average to .336 — second in the American League to only defending Triple Crown winner, Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera.
The bullpen was also extraordinary, striking out six in 2 2/3 innings of relief. Closer Ernesto Frieri finished the game with a flourish, striking out the side to pick up his 15th save.
First baseman Mark Teixeira headed back to New York immediately after the game to have his right wrist evaluated. Teixeira spent the first eight weeks of the season on the disabled list with a torn sheath in that wrist, and has gone 8 for 51 since coming back at the end of May.
“He told us tonight that he didn’t feel like he had a lot of strength in the wrist, so we took him out,” said manager Joe Girardi. “I’m definitely concerned.”
David Phelps took the loss for the Yankees, his record dropping to 4-4. … It will be a great pitching matchup at the Big A Sunday afternoon as C.C. Sabathia (6-5) takes on the Angels’ Jered Weaver (1-2). … New York is now 37-31.