ANAHEIM, Calif. — Against one of the majors’ worst teams with one of the majors’ worst pitching staffs, a breakthrough seemed inevitable all afternoon.
But it never came, and the Yankees absorbed a dispiriting 2-0 loss to the Angels on Sunday afternoon in front of 40,309 at Angel Stadium that kept them from a three-game sweep.
“It’s a missed opportunity,” said Joe Girardi, whose club again failed to move five games over .500, which would have been a high-water mark for the season. “Our opportunities, we have to take advantage of them when we get them, and we weren’t able to do it today.”
The Yankees (63-60), who as the day wore on saw AL East rivals Boston, Toronto and Baltimore lose, will continue their six-game West Coast trip on Monday night against the Mariners, another of the teams ahead of them in the AL wild-card chase.
The Yankees never got much going offensively, producing only six hits, stranding eight and going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. “We just didn’t get the hit today,” Girardi said. “I thought the at-bats were good, I thought we played a pretty good game. We just didn’t get the hits.”
The Yankees failed to take advantage of two good early scoring chances.
Mark Teixeira led off the third with a double but Chase Headley was unable to get him to third, striking out on four pitches. When Aaron Hicks singled to center, Teixeira had to stop at third — and Brett Gardner grounded hard into an inning-ending double play.
In the fourth, two-out singles by Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro and a walk to Brian McCann loaded the bases, but Teixeira flied out on a 3-and-2 pitch.
Andrelton Simmons drove in both runs for the Angels (52-72) with two-out singles in the first and eighth.
Rookie righthander Chad Green (2-3), who struck out 11 and allowed two hits in six shutout innings against Toronto in his previous outing, didn’t give up a run after the first inning. He allowed five hits and a walk, striking out five. “I’m happy with it,” he said of his last two outings. “I still think there’s room for improvement, but overall I’m pretty pleased with it.”
Angels righthander Jhoulys Chacin came in 3-8 with a 6.10 ERA but allowed only six hits and a walk in 5 2⁄3 innings. “He kept us off-balance,” McCann said.
Righthander Deolis Guerra took over with a runner on first in the sixth and struck out McCann. Guerra pitched 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings before giving way to righty JC Ramirez, who stranded runners on first and second in the eighth by striking out Gregorius and getting Castro on a dribbler. Fernando Salas pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save.
After the Yankees were set down in order in the first — the first time that happened in the series — the Angels took the lead in a 22-pitch bottom half.
Green retired the first two batters he faced but allowed a single by Albert Pujols, who had three hits. C.J. Cron walked and Simmons bounced one between short and third for a single that brought in a sliding Pujols just ahead of Gardner’s throw.
Green was saved by his defense in the fifth. Mike Trout singled with two outs and Pujols hit a full-count fastball deep to center. Jacoby Ellsbury drifted back, felt for the wall and perfectly timed his jump in bringing the ball back over the wall for the final out.
“I didn’t think he got all of it, but he got it pretty good,” Green said. “Jacoby made a great play on that.”
Said Ellsbury: “I knew it would be pretty close. It was a couple feet over [the wall]. It was a good feeling to pull a ball back and take a home run away. Big part of the game.”
The way the Yankees’ bats performed, that turned out to be their only real highlight.
“We won the series. That’s a positive we can take away, and hopefully we can continue to do that in Seattle,” Ellsbury said. “But close games like this, you want to come through and win these games.”