Pujols hits league-leading 9th home run as Angels rout Yankees
Throughout an up-and-down month, the Los Angeles Angels have been pretty consistent in one area: hitting home runs.
Albert Pujols had one of Los Angeles’ four long balls, C.J. Wilson kept New York in check again and the Angels roughed up the road weary Yankees 13-1 Friday night.
"The offensive part of our club is doing what it needs to do," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Hopefully we’ll start to match it on the mound, particularly in the bullpen."
Pujols hit homer No. 501 and Ian Stewart had a two-run shot off Hiroki Kuroda (2-2) for the majors’ top slugging squad. Erick Aybar connected for a three-run drive and Collin Cowgill went deep against Bruce Billings, one of the pitchers called up when Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games after being caught with pine tar on his neck Wednesday night.
Even with Josh Hamilton and Kole Calhoun on the disabled list, the Angels set a club record for March and April with 35 home runs, and Pujols has a majors-leading nine. But Los Angeles, which wasted a ninth-inning lead Wednesday in a 5-4 loss, is just 11-11 and has not been above .500 yet this season.
"It was a fun game for us after the off day and after the way the last game went," Wilson said. "We’re hitting balls all over the place."
Wilson (3-2) played catch on a softball field in Central Park wearing his red glove, unnoticed by any New Yorkers. It was hard not to notice his dominant performance in a difficult wind Friday. He gave up a run and four hits in six innings, the seventh time in eight starts he’s held New York to two or fewer earned runs.
Hank Conger had a pair of RBI doubles and a run-scoring single, Aybar reached base all five times — once when Carlos Beltran dropped his flyball to right field — and scored four runs. Howie Kendrick had three of the Angels’ 16 hits and scored three runs in a game that ended in front of a near-empty stadium.
The Yankees returned home at 3 a.m. Friday from an eventful 4-3 road trip in which they lost starters Ivan Nova to a season-ending elbow injury and Pineda for two starts. They came out flat against the only AL team with a winning record against them since 2000.
The Angels improved to 66-59 against New York since the turn of the century, but have won just 5 of the last 12.
In the lineup because of his success against Kuroda and third baseman David Freese’s struggles, Stewart singled in the second and hit a two-run shot in the third. He went 2 for 3 against the Yankees starter and is 8 for 16 against the righty.
On a chilly night, New York managed just two hits off Wilson until the sixth, when Alfonso Soriano had a sacrifice fly after Derek Jeter singled for his 3,336th hit and Beltran doubled.
"He’s got pretty good stuff," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He’s got good stuff and commands the baseball with a lot of movement."
The Angels sprayed hits through the Yankees’ varied shifts, scoring three in the second. Conger doubled in a run with a liner that hit the right field wall with a loud thud, Cowgill drove in another with a sacrifice bunt to first base and J.B. Shuck had an RBI groundout.
Stewart connected in the third with two outs. After his only 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, Kuroda gave up a long homer to Pujols to start the fifth. An out after Kendrick doubled, Aybar sent a fly to deep right that hit off Beltran’s glove for an error, chasing Kuroda.
"I’m feeling good," Pujols said. "It feels good to feel healthy."
Billings relieved and gave up an RBI double to Conger for an 8-0 lead. Aybar and Cowgill hit long balls off Billings in the seventh.
Kuroda had his worst outing of the season, allowing 10 hits and six earned runs.
"The sinker wasn’t good, as well as my slider and I got behind in the count and got hit," Kuroda said through a translator.
Scioscia said before the game Ernesto Frieri would be removed the closer role while he works on spotting his pitches. The right-hander worked a 1-2-3 eighth, when the score was 12-1.
"Velocity is there," Frieri said. "I just need to make my pitches."
NOTES: Girardi said David Phelps would start in Pineda’s place on Wednesday. … Yankees backup SS Brendan Ryan (back) is scheduled to play in a rehab game for Class-A Tampa on Sunday. … Pujols’ nine homers in April ties an Angels record set by Brian Downing in 1986. … Mike Trout went 0 for 4, snapping a 13-game hitting streak against the Yankees.