ANAHEIM, Calif. — CC Sabathia didn’t get his 3,000th career strikeout Wednesday night but the Yankees got a win.
Anyone who has followed the 38-year-old lefthander’s career knows what was most important to him.
Sabathia didn’t have it in his third start of the season, allowing three home runs and putting his team in a five-run hole through four innings.
But Jonathan Loaisiga held things in check after replacing Sabathia and the offense rallied late in leading the Yankees to their sixth straight win with a dramatic 6-5 victory over the Angels in front of 37,928 at Angel Stadium.
There was, naturally, injury news after the game because there seems always to be. Outfielder Clint Frazier, an offensive star in recent weeks as the injured list has grown, was placed on the IL with a left ankle sprain suffered Monday night.
“This has been unbelievable, just watching what this bunch of guys have been doing, just the grittiness,” said Sabathia, who struck out three over five innings to leave him at 2,997 in his career. “It’s been fun to watch.”
Tyler Wade sparked the Yankees (14-10) in the ninth. Wade singled with two outs, stole second and came in on a single by DJ LeMahieu. Wade had stifled a seventh-inning rally by getting caught with his foot off the bag at second after a highlight reel catch by Mike Trout for an inning-ending double play – he was deked by shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who took Trout’s throw and sidled up near Wade.
“You have no idea,” Wade said of how satisfying it was to come through after the brain freeze. “I’m just glad we got out with the win. These guys, man, we’re grinding. Loaisiga came in and shut the door and our offense is putting good at-bats together and we have a good vibe going on right now.”
LeMahieu, in a brutal slump coming into the game, produced the go-ahead hit on a 1-and-2 count and displayed some rare emotion at first after Wade came across the plate.
“It was a big hit for us,” said LeMahieu, among the quietest and most reserved players in the clubhouse. “It was kind of a collective effort to get to that point and to come through there felt really good.”
Sabathia, who entered the night six strikeouts shy of becoming the 17th pitcher, and third lefthander, to reach 3,000 strikeouts, allowed five runs (four earned) and six hits. Loaisiga was terrific in relief, throwing three scoreless innings before Aroldis Chapman recorded his fourth save with a scoreless ninth.
The Angels went the “opener” route, starting righty reliever Cam Bedrosian, who pitched a scoreless first. Felix Pena replaced him and allowed two runs (one earned) while striking out eight over five innings.
Sabathia retired the first two batters in the first before shortstop Andrelton Simmons cracked a first-pitch fastball to center, making it 1-0. It was the first homer allowed by Sabathia in three starts.
Sabathia picked up his first strikeout in the second, striking out Jonathan Lucroy. He would not strike out another batter until the fifth — getting Mike Trout looking at a cutter — at that point the Yankees were trailing 5-0.
That’s because Simmons launched a full-count slider to left to lead off the fourth inning to make it 2-0 and the 36-pitch inning only got worse from there.
Albert Pujols followed by dumping a single to left, his second of the night. Brian Goodwin bunted and Gary Sanchez, who struck out four times in his return from the IL, bobbled the ball for an error. Lucroy bounced into a 4-3 fielder’s choice, putting runners at the corners, and Kole Calhoun annihilated a full-count slider halfway up the seats in right, his fifth homer of the season making it 5-0.
“Three-run homer to a lefty, that’s just unacceptable,” Sabathia said. “So I’ll try to be better next time out.”
After striking out Trout to start the fifth, Sabathia struck out Simmons, pulling him within three of 3,000.
The Yankees started their comeback in the sixth when Wade reached on an infield single. LeMahieu, in a 3-for-39 skid to that point, lined an RBI double into the corner in left that made it 5-1. Luke Voit, who extended his on-base streak to 35 games in the first with a walk, hit a broken-bat single to center to put runners at the corners for Brett Gardner. The centerfielder popped to short and Sanchez struck out for the third time. With Torres at the plate, a passed ball brought in LeMahieu to make it 5-2.
After Loaisiga pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, the comeback continued in the seventh against righty Luis Garcia, who brought a 0.87 ERA into the night. Mike Ford drew a leadoff walk and Gio Urshela singled. Mike Tauchman got ahead 3-and-0, eventually walking to load the bases. Up stepped Wade, who walked on four pitches to make it 5-3 and mercifully ended Garcia’s night. In came righty Ty Buttrey to face LeMahieu, whose long sacrifice fly brought in Urshela to make it 5-4 and allowed Tauchman and Wade to tag. Voit grounded sharply to short and Simmons came home with the throw but a sliding Tauchman beat it, tying the score at 5.
“Winning’s a lot of fun and the way these guys are picking each other up, rallying around each other, rallying around the adversity we’ve had, has kind of become a little battle cry in there for them a little bit,” Boone said. “They’re very close, they’re very resilient, they’re very tough. Their resiliency so far has been really impressive.”