The Yankees were far from crisis mode with Dellin Betances, but one of their stalwart relievers clearly wasn’t right.
The righthander, among baseball’s most dominant relievers the last two seasons, had allowed at least one run in four straight outings — a career first — entering Tuesday night.
The Yankees, and perhaps Betances as well, were able to exhale a bit when he struck out two in a perfect eighth inning of a 6-3 victory over the Angels in front of 31,034 at the Stadium.
“You just have to keep working,” Betances said. “This game is not always going to be easy. I thank the Lord the last couple of years I’ve been able to do a good job. This year I feel good. I’ve had a couple of tough games so it was nice to go out there and do what I did today.”
Betances, who brought an 11.57 ERA over his last four games into the game, struck out Yunel Escobar on three pitches and Kole Calhoun on five before inducing an inning-ending flyout from Mike Trout.
“The force on the break of the curveball was back,” catcher Austin Romine said. “It was hard, it was down. It was a really good night for him.”
Andrew Miller, closing with Aroldis Chapman unavailable after pitching in the previous two games, earned his seventh save with a scoreless ninth.
“He hasn’t been maybe as perfect as he can be, but nobody is throughout the entirety of the season,” said Miller, always among Betances’ biggest fans in the clubhouse. “I don’t think anybody’s worried about Dellin.”
The Yankees (28-30) had 10 hits, including homers from Carlos Beltran and Starlin Castro.
Michael Pineda (3-6, 6.14), whose rotation spot was a matter of speculation two weeks ago, turned in a second consecutive strong start.
Pineda, victimized in the early innings much of the season — he brought a 13.09 first-inning ERA and 9.00 second-inning ERA into the game — threw four shutout innings Tuesday before allowing all three of his runs in the fifth. He allowed four hits.
“Michael can dominant,” Joe Girardi said; “When Michael’s on, he can be really dominant. I’m hoping this continues a roll for him.”
Former Yankees lefthander David Huff (0-1), who was signed to a minor-league contract by the Angels on May 19 and had his contract purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake earlier in the day so he could spot start, wasn’t good.
The Yankees scored five runs and had eight of their 10 hits against Huff, taking a 5-0 lead after three.
After Pineda struck out two in a perfect eight-pitch first, the Yankees immediately went after Huff. With Rob Refsnyder, who reached on a fielder’s choice, on first, Beltran drove a 0-and-1 changeup into the seats in left for his 15th homer — and 1,000th extra-base hit of his career — to make it 2-0.
“The triples early in my career helped me get there,” Beltran joked of becoming the 38th player to reach that extra-base hit plateau.
Alex Rodriguez and Castro singled and, after Chase Headley grounded to third, Romine’s RBI single to center made it 3-0.
Refsnyder’s sacrifice fly in the second made it 4-0 and Castro’s ninth homer, with one out in the third, made it 5-0.
Kole Calhoun’s two-run homer highlighted the fifth for the Angels (26-32), drawing them within 5-3 but A-Rod’s RBI single in the seventh made it 6-3, and the Yankees were well on their way to a 2-0 start on a seven-game homestand that is the start of a stretch of the soft part of their schedule.
“This is an important month,” Girardi said. “We have to have a good month.”