ANAHEIM, Calif. — Apparently that franchise-record 17-2 start by the Red Sox didn’t quite decide the AL East after all.
Flexing their considerable offensive muscle, the Yankees coasted to their eighth straight victory Saturday night, scoring five runs in each of the first two innings of an 11-1 annihilation of the Angels in front of a crowd of 46,649 that seemed equally split in their rooting interests.
“It’s a lot of fun when you come in and there are so many guys that are contributing,” said Miguel Andujar, who continued his recent hot stretch with a 3-for-5 night, including his MLB-leading 12th double. “From the pitching staff to position players to everyone. It’s fun.”
The Yankees (17-9), who have outscored the opposition 62-17 in the streak, climbed within two games of the Red Sox (19-7) after trailing by 7 1⁄2 on April 20. “I think we’re a good team,” Aaron Boone said. “Guys are playing well, guys are coming together well. I don’t get caught up in [the standings]; I just know we’re in a good place as a club right now.”
Some of the hyperventilating that occurred as a result of that deficit was yet another example of the folly of making grand declarations so early in a baseball season. As were the concerns about a Yankees offense that misfired during the first two weeks more than it fired, a juggernaut still in waiting.
But the Yankees entered Saturday leading the major leagues in runs (150), runs per game (6.00), home runs (40), homers per game (1.60), on-base percentage (.348), slugging percentage (.471) and OPS (.819) — and did nothing to harm their standing in those categories.
Well, except for home runs. The Yankees had five doubles and a triple but didn’t hit any homers, so there’s always that to work on for future games.
“I was thinking that late,” Boone said of the onslaught without a home run. “A lot of times, obviously, we have guys that are going to hit the ball out of the ballpark, but that’s not always what it has to be.”
Aaron Judge and the still absurdly-hot Andujar each had three hits, Gary Sanchez had two doubles and Neil Walker and Gleyber Torres also had two hits for the Yankees. Eight of the hits came in the first two innings.
Masahiro Tanaka was more than happy to have the run support and turned in a second straight standout performance. He did not allow a hit until the fourth and didn’t allow a run until Zack Cozart’s leadoff homer in the sixth. Tanaka (4-2, 4.37) allowed one run and two hits in six innings, struck out nine and walked two.
It was a beatdown from the outset as Garrett Richards, 3-0 with a 3.46 ERA coming in, didn’t make it out of the second. He didn’t receive much help from his defense, but that was merely a technicality as the Yankees hit rope after rope in the early going. Richards allowed nine runs (five earned) and five hits in 1 2⁄3 innings.
The Yankees sent nine to the plate in the first and 10 in the second in surging to the 10-0 lead.
Judge singled with one out in the first and Didi Gregorius, who finally had a quiet night, walked. Giancarlo Stanton bounced one to short that had double play written all over it, but Cozart booted the ball and a run scored.
Sanchez ripped a 3-and-1 fastball down the leftfield line for an RBI double that made it 2-0. After an RBI groundout by Aaron Hicks and a passed ball on Walker’s strikeout that produced a run, Andujar lined a double to left that made it 5-0.
An RBI double by Judge — who had three hits in the first three innings before striking out three times — a two-run triple by Hicks and RBI singles by Walker and Torres made it 10-0.
Sanchez doubled off the centerfield wall with two outs in the eighth and scored on Walker’s single for an 11-1 lead.
After the lengthy first inning, Tanaka retired the Angels on nine pitches. After the second five-spot, he struck out the side.
“I don’t know if this applies to all pitchers, but sometimes when you’re waiting for that long to get into the game, that can at times throw off your rhythm,” he said through his translator. “So that was kind of a challenge, but for me I was able to just come out strong. I think it was a good day.”
Eight in a row of those for the Yankees.