The last time the Los Angeles Angels visited the Bronx, the host New York Yankees clinched the American League East title.
After a lost weekend at Fenway Park to the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees are facing a significant obstacle in their quest to celebrate in September. They hope they can start turning things around Monday night when they welcome the Angels in the opener of a four-game series.
The Yankees are hosting the Angels for the first time since Sept. 19, 2019, when they clinched their first division title since 2012 with a 9-1 victory. That was their 100th win in a year when they won 103 games while setting a record for injured list stints.
This time, the Yankees are on an 84-win pace as a fourth-place team with a 6 1/2-game deficit. They were outscored 18-7 in their second three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox, culminating with Sunday’s 9-2 loss.
In that game, the Yankees’ only runs came on Aaron Judge’s two-run homer, and they struck out 13 times.
The nightmare in Boston is part of another inconsistent run. The Yankees reached nine games over .500 on May 23 when they completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox, but they are 12-18 since.
In Boston, the Yankees produced 25 hits but struck out 30 times and went 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position.
“The inconsistencies of the two steps forward — come up here in a big weekend series and take a giant step back, that inconsistency has kind of defined us so far,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
“We’ve got to find a way to be more consistent. Ultimately, we expect way more out of ourselves. I know the fan base expects more. To come up here and have a disappointing weekend against a team we’re trying to chase down is frustrating,” Boone added.
The Angels aided the Yankees on Sunday when they snapped a five-game losing streak with a 6-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Shohei Ohtani, who will pitch Wednesday, hit his 25th homer and drove in three runs. He homered in the ninth inning after getting an RBI double and a game-tying triple earlier in the game.
Ohtani, who went 0-for-9 in three games at Yankee Stadium in May 2018, is one home run behind Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the major league and tied with Fernando Tatis Jr. Ohtani also has 10 homers in his past 20 games.
“He really likes the moment,” Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon said of Ohtani, who also will be taking part in the Home Run Derby. “He loves to play baseball. He loves to compete. He has a really high baseball IQ. He sees things and then goes in and does it.”
Ohtani will be taking his swings against New York’s Michael King (0-3, 4.05 ERA in 12 appearances), who is 0-2 with a 5.75 ERA in five starts.
King has not pitched beyond 5 1/3 innings since entering the rotation when Corey Kluber was injured last month. On Wednesday, he settled for a no-decision against the Kansas City Royals when he allowed two runs on three hits in 4 2/3 innings.
King will be making his first career appearance against the Angels, who counter with a familiar face to the Yankees by starting Dylan Bundy (1-7, 6.68).
Bundy is 2-6 with a 6.52 ERA in 13 career appearances (11 starts) against New York, all while he was with the Baltimore Orioles. He also is 0-3 with a 7.91 ERA in four career starts in New York.
Bundy has not completed six innings in his past seven starts although he has alternated decent outings of late. He allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings to Kansas City on June 7, was rocked for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings at Oakland on June 14 and allowed two runs in four innings on June 20 to Detroit.
–Field Level Media