The Los Angeles Angels have given the Yankees plenty of trouble over the last decade, but they haven’t managed a three-game sweep over New York on their home field in the Joe Torre era.
The Angels can pull off the feat Sunday when the teams wrap up their series at Angel Stadium.
The Angels (76-52) beat the Yankees 12-7 on Saturday, improving to 6-3 against New York this season and 55-51 since Joe Torre became its manager in 1996. The Angels are the only team with a winning record against the Yankees over that span.
“We might have won a couple more games over the years, but I think `equally matched’ is probably a good term to use,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I mean, I’d hate to play them 162 times, but we’ve held our own against them.”
Despite that success, the Angels have not swept a three-game set at home against New York since May 23-25, 1995, although they did take a two-game series April 1-2, 1998.
Garret Anderson homered and drove in four runs and rookie Howie Kendrick went 4-for-4 with a tiebreaking homer Saturday for the Angels, who have won seven of their last nine and trail Oakland by 5 1/2 games in the AL West.
The AL East-leading Yankees (76-52), meanwhile, fell to 1-4 on their six-game West Coast swing since an improbable five-game sweep of the Red Sox in Boston.
“It’s always difficult over 162 games, but at this time of year it shouldn’t be difficult,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. “I’m talking about getting up for games and being ready to go every day. That shouldn’t be an issue now. It is natural to have some sort of a letdown, but I don’t think that’s the reason why we’ve been getting beat.”
Johnny Damon homered for New York but third baseman Alex Rodriguez, batting No. 2 for the first time this season, went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Rodriguez is 1-for-15 with 11 strikeouts during the West Coast swing.
Slugger Jason Giambi left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh because of cramping in both hands and was given fluids intravenously in the clubhouse.
Rookie Jeff Karstens (0-0, 4.76 ERA) will look to help the Yankees avoid the sweep. He made his major league debut on Tuesday, allowing three runs and two homers in 5 2-3 innings of the Yankees’ 6-5 loss at Seattle.
Sunday’s start comes in place of Mike Mussina, who is on the disabled list with a strained right groin.
The Angels will counter with another rookie, Joe Saunders (4-1, 3.06), who gave up two unearned runs in 5 2-3 innings of the Angels’ 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, but did not receive a decision. The rookie left-hander, who won his first four starts this season, bounced back nicely after allowing eight runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 9-3 loss at Texas on Aug. 16.
Saunders allowed three runs in six innings of a 7-4 win at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 11 in his only career start against New York.