ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Yankees did not add anyone to the injured list Monday, in itself a victory considering how things have unfolded three weeks into the regular season.
Still, because of contributions from some unexpected sources and mostly stellar starting pitching, they entered Monday night having won five of their last six to inch over .500 at 11-10.
“We’ve had a lot of guys that we didn’t necessarily expect to be contributors this early be called up, and to varying degrees guys have really stepped up and contributed to us winning games,” Aaron Boone said a few hours before the Yankees started a three-city West Coast trip in Anaheim.
Some of those players came through again Monday night, headlined by Gio Urshela, whose two-out RBI single in the 14th inning gave the Yankees a 4-3 victory over the Angels in front of 35,403 at Angel Stadium.
“Finding a way right now,” Boone said after the 4-hour, 35-minute game. “It’s not easy for us right now by any means, but the guys have been finding a way.”
It was an overall odd night, one that was mostly about offensive futility from both teams. There were 25 strikeouts in the game, 14 by the Yankees. Entering the 14th, the Yankees had four hits and the Angels had seven, including a two-out RBI single by Brian Goodwin off Aroldis Chapman that tied it at 3 in the 12th. Urshela’s sacrifice fly in the top of the 12th had given the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
The Yankees struck out four times -- yes, four -- in the 14th but scored the go-ahead run anyway. Gleyber Torres started the inning by striking out against righty Luke Bard. The ball got away from catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who still had an easy play at first but badly airmailed his throw. After Clint Frazier -- who suffered a banged-up ankle after a leadoff double in the 12th -- struck out, a wild pitch moved Torres to second. Torres stole third with two outs and scored on Urshela’s single to right-center for a 4-3 lead.
“Feels good to help the team and having the opportunity to help the team,” Urshela said through his translator. “We were always focused, we never put our head down, and I think that’s what helped us win the game tonight.”
Jonathan Holder pitched a perfect 13th and got the first two outs in the 14th. He then intentionally walked Kole Calhoun to pitch to Trevor Cahill, a starting pitcher for the Angels, who batted for Bard and struck out.
“It’s a weird situation. He put some good swings on it,” Holder said of facing Cahill. “It was definitely different seeing a pitcher up there.”
Frazier, 0-for-4 entering the 12th, hit a leadoff double off righthander Taylor Cole. That broke a streak of 11 straight retired by Angels pitching and marked the first hit by the Yankees since Urshela’s single in the fourth. Frazier then seemed to wrench his left ankle on a pickoff attempt but stayed in the game after being looked at by Boone and trainer Steve Donohue. He later took the field with the ankle wrapped.
Mike Tauchman did his job with a groundout to second that moved Frazier to third. Urshela, who again made several standout defensive plays at third, delivered Frazier with a long sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-2.
Frazier walked with a slight limp the rest of the game and in the clubhouse afterward. 'It's pretty sore,'' he said. “I felt good enough to stay out there.”
And, it goes without saying, with 13 players already on the injured list, the Yankees can ill afford to add one more, especially someone as productive as the 24-year-old Frazier, who is hitting .324 with a .974 OPS.
“It’s sore, it’s a little sprain,” said Frazier, who missed the majority of last season because of lingering effects of a concussion suffered in spring training. “But it’s one of those things where, like I’ve said, I went through too much last year to not go out there and play. The IL is too full for us, so I’m good. I’m going to keep playing.”
With two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the 12th, Chapman hit Zack Cozart in the leg with a slider. Goodwin lined a single to center to tie the score at 3-3, but Chapman got out of the inning.
J.A. Happ came in 0-2 with a 7.23 ERA but turned in a good performance – one that was mostly forgotten by night’s end – allowing two runs and three hits in seven innings. He allowed a two-run homer in the second by Lucroy that gave the Angels a 2-1 lead but no more. Happ, who has allowed seven homers in five starts, retired the final seven hitters he faced and 12 of the last 13.
“Sometimes you get settled in and you kind of free yourself up a little bit and I felt like I was able to let it go a little bit more,” said Happ, whose four-seam fastball was the best it’s been this year. “I felt like the last few innings I was stronger.”
Former Met Matt Harvey came in with even worse numbers — 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA — but also settled in after some early issues, allowing two runs and three hits in six innings. One of those hits was Luke Voit’s fifth home run in the first.
Voit tattooed a 2-and-2 slider to center to give Happ a 1-0 lead and extend the first baseman’s on-base streak to 33 games, the majors’ longest active streak.
After a perfect 12-pitch bottom of the first, Happ struck out Albert Pujols to start the second but Kevan Smith lined a single to center and Lucroy hammered a 1-and-1 slider to center for his first homer of the season and a 2-1 Angels lead. It was the seventh homer allowed by Happ in five starts.
Kyle Higashioka led off the third by lining a double into the gap in right-center. Tyler Wade struck out and Brett Gardner worked a walk, bringing up Voit, who walked on four pitches to load the bases. Torres fell behind 0-and-2 before lifting a sacrifice fly to right that tied it at 2. Rightfielder Kole Calhoun had a play on Higashioka at the plate but Lucroy couldn’t come up with the short-hop throw.
“Tonight we struggled a little bit at the plate, obviously, but a lot of big outings from pitchers,” Boone said. “We caught the ball well, we came up in enough big spots offensively, so really happy with the way the guys are competing and getting after it right now.”