NEW YORK — The Babe Ruth of 2021 took the mound in the House That Ruth Built, and the Yankee lineup produced the way it did in the Bambino’s heyday.
Nine Yankees came to bat in the first inning against Angels star pitcher Shohei Ohtani on Wednesday night. Seven reached base, and all came around to score.
The problem for New York was that the Angels did the same thing against Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.
The closer with the fading fireball walked the bases loaded and gave up a game-tying grand slam to Jared Walsh (two homers, five RBI). Pinch-hitter Luis Rengifo then hit the go-ahead, two-run single off Lucas Luetge to seal the Yankees’ fate in an 11-8 loss to Los Angeles – which totaled seven runs in the ninth.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone called the loss “frustrating, disappointing, terrible. We’ve got to pick ourselves up.”
In a season of difficult losses for the Yankees, this one perhaps was the worst of all.
The game was interrupted twice by passing rainstorms, which added two hours, 13 minutes to the proceedings. After the second delay, relievers Darren O’Day and Jonathan Loaisiga combined to retire nine in a row before Chapman’s implosion led to the fifth loss in six games for the Yankees (41-39).
“Talk is cheap right now,” Boone said tersely. “We need to go out and play full games and start hammering some people.”
The ‘New Bambino’?
Ohtani, who hit three homers in the first two games of the series, not only hit for himself but batted leadoff – a combo last seen in the majors as a 1968 publicity stunt.
“We haven’t seen it [recently] because obviously it’s incredibly difficult – borderline impossible,” Boone said before the game, adding, “[that’s why] the baseball world is talking about him as much as they are.”
The one comment from Boone that wound up being most ironic was that he hoped Ohtani would be “coming up in situations where we have a sizeable lead and nobody on base and things like that.”
The MLB home run leader flied out to center in his only at-bat, and his early departure meant that the Angels (39-41) had to bat one of their three bench players in the top of the first and let pitcher Dylan Bundy hit for himself in the fourth.
A long way to go
Yankees starter Domingo Germán fared only slightly better, allowing three runs on three hits over three innings. Germán was relieved by Justin Wilson, who made his return from a right hamstring strain.
Wilson pitched for the first time since May 28 and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, recording a called strikeout against Bundy.
The seven innings New York needed from its bullpen complicated how their pitching might play out in Thursday’s finale, scheduled for a 1 p.m. start (weather permitting). Lefty Jordan Montgomery, who has completed seven inning just once in his first 15 starts, will take the mound for the Yanks.
Breakdown of a meltdown
Ohtani seemed to shy away from his trademark sinker early on, and it led to three straight walks to load the bases in the home first.
Stanton and Gleyber Torres followed with ground-ball singles to the left side. Neither was hit particularly hard, but they were enough to offset Phil Gosselin’s two-run homer in the top of the first.
Ohtani went back to his sinker to retire Rougned Odor (strikeout) and Miguel Andújar (RBI groundout). But after he hit Clint Frazier with a pitch and walked Brett Gardner, the 6-foot-4 righty exited with the bases loaded, serenaded by derisive cheers from the crowd of 30,714.
DJ LeMahieu greeted reliever Aaron Slegers with a double down the right-field line that cleared the bases and closed the book on Ohtani. The seven earned runs charged to him raised his ERA by a full point to 3.60.
Frazier was hit on the hand but left the game due to dizziness according to the team, which announced he will undergo further evaluation on Thursday.
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This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: New York Yankees meltdown as Aroldis Chapman blows lead to Angels