Joel Pineiro’s power sinker cut right through the Yankees lineup.
That was a welcome sight for the Los Angeles Angels, who looked much more like themselves as soon as they got a top-notch pitching performance.
Pineiro tossed seven impressive innings for his first win with his new team and the Angels showed signs of shaking their early slump by beating New York 5-3 on Wednesday. “We need more games like this,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “If we had been playing like this for the first week there’s no way we’re sitting with a 3-6 record.”
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Bobby Abreu and Kendry Morales each hit an RBI double off a rocky Javier Vazquez, and Los Angeles rebounded after its worst eight-game start since 1972.
Much more reminiscent of the sound team that’s won three straight AL West titles and five in six years, the Angels were aggressive on the bases and made tough plays in the field.
Kevin Jepsen escaped an eighth-inning jam and Fernando Rodney, filling in for injured closer Brian Fuentes, got three quick outs for his first save.
“I guess that’s Angel baseball,” Pineiro said. “Stealing bases, going first to third. Hopefully, this is a good stride now.”
Maybe that closed-door meeting Scioscia held after Tuesday’s loss did the trick.
“It was a good message. Seemed like it worked,” Torii Hunter said. “We probably had a little more energy, a little more fire today. You don’t know if it was the meeting we had yesterday, but today I saw something different.”
One day after receiving their 2009 World Series rings in an emotional ceremony before their home opener, the Yankees mustered little offense until late.
Mark Teixeira went hitless again and Alex Rodriguez struck out all three times up against Pineiro (1-1), who signed a $16 million, two-year contract with the Angels after going 15-12 with a 3.49 ERA for St. Louis last season. The right-hander yielded five hits, struck out seven and walked none. His sinking fastball caused fits for a dangerous New York lineup that featured seven left-handed hitters.
“He pounded the zone in good spots. He moved the ball around and expanded when he had to,” Scioscia said. “Great effort from a guy that we have very high hopes for, so that’s going to be important to us moving forward.”
It was Pineiro’s first win against the Yankees since Aug. 18, 2002, with Seattle.
“He threw some great sinkers today. He’s got that power in there, but he’s using it more for movement,” said Nick Swisher, who hit an RBI triple for New York. “We never really did much with him.”
The Yankees scored twice in the eighth against Scot Shields on Nick Johnson’s RBI single and Teixeira’s run-scoring groundout. But Jepsen struck out Jorge Posada with runners at the corners to end the inning.
Los Angeles did not give up a home run for the first time this season. Through the first eight games of the year, Angels starters ranked last in the AL with a 1-6 record and 5.91 ERA.
“Especially for myself, trying to get that first one out of the way, it’s always nice,” Pineiro said. “But yeah, we were scuffling a little bit so hopefully we just needed somebody to go out there and give us a quality start.”
Vazquez (0-2) is off to a rough start in his second stint with the Yankees – the first one ended unceremoniously in Game 7 of the 2004 AL championship series against Boston.
The right-hander has failed to finish the sixth inning in either of his first two starts this season, allowing 12 runs and 14 hits in 11 innings. He walked off to a low rumble of boos Wednesday.
“Javy is an accomplished guy. He’ll get going and he’ll get plenty of wins,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Javy kept us in the game, we just didn’t score a lot of runs. But I think his stuff was better today.”
The Angels chased Vazquez in the sixth on ringing doubles by Hunter and Morales. With two outs, Maicer Izturis’ run-scoring single made it 4-1.
Erick Aybar singled home a run in the third and Abreu followed with an RBI double.
“I made a few mistakes today and they cost me runs,” Vazquez said. “I thought I had good life on my fastball.”
Hunter added an RBI single off Alfredo Aceves in the seventh.
NOTES: Fuentes, a four-time All-Star, went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained back. The move is retroactive to April 6. … After the game, the Angels sent OF Terry Evans outright to Triple-A Salt Lake to make roster room for LHP Scott Kazmir, scheduled to start Thursday night in his season debut. Kazmir has been sidelined with a strained right hamstring. … The Angels stole two bases, doubling their previous season total. … Teixeira is 3 for 31 (.097) this season.