ANAHEIM, Calif. — An ineffective Jameson Taillon saw his offense bail him out last Thursday in Oakland.
The righthander was not as fortunate Tuesday night.
On another night in which Taillon didn’t have it, neither did the Yankees’ offense, which grounded into a remarkable five double plays in the first seven innings in a 6-4 loss to the Angels in front of 34,813 at Angel Stadium, the majority of which were pulling for the visiting team.
The Yankees (76-56) have lost four in a row — by a total of six runs — after their 13-game winning streak to fall eight games behind the never-seem-to-lose Rays in the AL East. They did stay two games ahead of Boston, which lost to Tampa Bay on Tuesday, for the top wild-card spot.
"We’ve lost some razor-thin games," Aaron Boone said. "Tonight was a story of the five double plays. Obviously [they] really hurt us . . . I thought we were having a lot of really good at-bats all night. It’s a game we felt like we really should have broken open and did not."
The Yankees outhit the Angels 10-6 but were undone by the double plays and overall lack of success with runners in scoring position (1-for-10 with six stranded).
Trailing 6-2 entering the eighth, the Yankees pulled within 6-4 on an RBI single by Aaron Judge and a sacrifice fly by Giancarlo Stanton, who missed a tying homer by mere feet as the ball was caught by Jo Adell on the warning track in left. With the go-ahead run at the plate, Jake Petricka struck out Gio Urshela and pinch hitter Luke Voit, both of whom swung at 3-and-2 off-speed pitches that appeared off the plate outside.
Raisel Iglesias struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 29th save and second in as many nights.
Taillon, 7-0 with a 3.05 ERA in his previous 13 starts but fading a bit of late, allowed a season-high six runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings, though he was terrific over the first three innings, recording five of his six strikeouts.
The outing came after the righthander allowed five runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings Thursday against the A’s (a 7-6 Yankees victory).
"It’s something unfortunately I’ve done a few times lately where I’m cruising throughout the game and then just hit a roadblock and can’t seem to get through it," Taillon said.
In the fourth, Anthony Rizzo improved to 7-for-his-last-19 by launching a drive just over the yellow line (and a leaping Juan Lagares) in rightfield for his 18th homer and a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, David Fletcher blooped a single to right for the Angels’ first hit and, with Shohei Ohtani at the plate, stole second. Taillon, who allowed two homers to Ohtani on June 29 at the Stadium, walked him on seven pitches.
Phil Gosselin momentarily helped Taillon, popping up a sacrifice bunt to Gary Sanchez near the plate. The Angels, however, executed a double steal to put runners on second and third.
Taillon got ahead of Jared Walsh 0-and-2, threw an excellent curveball that Walsh fouled off and then teed up a hanging curve that Walsh lined over the rightfield wall for his 25th homer and a 3-1 Angels lead.
Said Taillon, who had struck out Walsh on a high fastball earlier in the game: ‘’I threw a good curveball the pitch before that I was hoping to get a swing-and-miss on, he tipped it, and then I threw another curveball back-to-back there when I probably had an opportunity to take a shot at a fastball up, which I had gotten a swing-and-miss on earlier in the at-bat, so that’s one of the couple of pitches that I really could kick myself over tonight.’’
The other one came in the fifth. With runners on second and third and none out, Taillon got Lagares and Fletcher to ground out, with the runners holding, and intentionally walked Ohtani to load the bases. He got ahead of Gosselin 0-and-2 but threw a 2-and-2 fastball over the heart of the plate that Gosselin lined into left-center for a two-run single and a 5-2 lead.
"It’s brutal," Taillon said of allowing the number of two-strike hits he has. "I feel like I do have some strikeout pitches if I execute . . . That’s kind of been a whole-year thing."
Joely Rodriguez then replaced Taillon, and with Walsh at the plate, Angels manager Joe Maddon called for a delayed steal. When Sanchez threw to second, Ohtani took off for home. Urshela’s one-hop return throw was to the first-base side of the plate, and although Sanchez made a nice scoop, Ohtani beat his diving tag to make it 6-2.
Sanchez, who had gone 78 plate appearances and 70 at-bats without a home run since hitting one July 20, hit his 18th homer in the fifth to bring the Yankees within 3-2.
"Losing four in a row obviously is very frustrating and unacceptable," Brett Gardner said. "We’ve been playing really good baseball for a while now. The last few days, we’ve been [in these games] and had opportunities to change the outcome, we just haven’t been able to. Even though we’ve lost four in a row, we’ve won 13 of 17 is how I choose to look at it."