Since Joe Torre took over as manager of the New York Yankees before the 1996 season, the Los Angeles Angels are the only team in the AL with a winning record against his club. Based on this weekend’s games, the Angels will maintain that advantage for a while.
Los Angeles goes for a three-game sweep of New York at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
Including the first two games of this series, the Angels (30-20) have won 17 of their last 25 regular-season games against the Yankees, improving to 57-52 against them since 1996. They also eliminated New York from the playoffs in 2002 and 2005.
Los Angeles hopes the success continues as it seeks its first three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium since August 20-22, 2004.
Casey Kotchman went 3-for-3 with an RBI to help the Angels to a 3-1 win on Saturday, their 13th victory in their last 17 games. Los Angeles scored all three of its runs in the first inning, and has outscored opponents 52-19 in first innings this season.
“You get your 1-2 guys on base, it’s a recipe for a treacherous first inning,” said Gary Matthews Jr., who had a two-run triple in the first.
Kotchman has three hits in each of the first two contests of the series, and is 11-for-21 (.524) in five career games at Yankee Stadium.
John Lackey (7-3, 2.38 ERA) will try to become the first pitcher in the majors to reach eight wins when he takes the mound Sunday for Los Angeles. The right-hander has won three straight starts with an ERA of 1.86 in that stretch. He held Detroit to one run and three hits in five innings in a 6-3 victory on Tuesday.
Lackey has won four consecutive starts twice in his career. He is 3-6 with a 5.76 ERA in 10 starts against the Yankees, but has a 2-1 record with a 3.80 ERA in four outings against them since 2005.
The Yankees (21-26) have dropped 10 of 15 to fall five games under .500 and will finish May with a losing record for the first time since 1995, the year before Torre’s arrival.
“As soon as you put this uniform on, there’s pressure. I don’t understand what more pressure is,” Torre said. “We certainly haven’t played up to our expectations, and we’re all accountable.”
Johnny Damon, who left Friday’s game with leg cramps, was limited to a pinch-hit at-bat on Saturday and isn’t expected to return to the starting lineup for Sunday’s finale. He talked to team officials, and it was decided to keep him off the 15-day disabled list.
“I think we all thought it wouldn’t be 15 days,” Damon said. “It’s probably not even five.”
New York starter Mike Mussina (2-3, 6.52) hopes to bounce back from consecutive rough outings. He has given up 12 runs in 12 innings in losing his last two starts. On Tuesday, the right-hander allowed seven runs in 6 2-3 innings in New York’s 7-3 loss to Boston.
Mussina has fared well against Los Angeles, however, going 15-8 with a 3.45 ERA in 29 career starts.
Angels designated hitter Shea Hillenbrand is 15-for-46 (.326) with three home runs in his career against Mussina. New York’s Jason Giambi, meanwhile, is batting .462 (12-for-26) with two homers against Lackey.