After the Yankees’ vaunted closer blew a 12th-inning lead, but before New York manufactured another run while striking out four times in the 14th, an Angels outfielder playing second base for the first time in his pro career dived to stop a grounder and made a fine throw to get the out at first.
Out of every improbability in this epic opener of the Yankees’ West Coast trip, the identity of their offensive hero was right up there with the weirdest.
Gio Urshela singled home Gleyber Torres in the 14th with his second extra-inning RBI of the night, and the Yankees persevered for their fourth consecutive win, 4-3 over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.
“We’re finding a way right now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s not easy for us by any means, but the guys have been finding a way.”
The injury-plagued Yankees have won six of seven, and they teamed up with the struggling Angels to pack a week’s worth of drama into this one. After playing 3 ½ hours in the Bronx on Sunday, the Yankees flew across the country and played another 4 ½ hours in Anaheim — but the twists and swings of this win left them energized in their clubhouse after Urshela came through twice late.
“It’s been a long 24 hours for us,” said starter J.A. Happ, whose seven outstanding innings were merely a prelude. “But our guys did a great job today, and it’s been fun to watch.”
The Yankees finished it off despite striking out four times in the 14th: Torres reached base on catcher Jonathan Lucroy’s comical throwing error after whiffing.
Torres advanced on a wild pitch by Luke Bard (0-1) and stole third before he was driven home by Urshela. The journeyman infielder produced his first multi-RBI game since last May, epitomizing the Yankees’ can-do spirit while Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sánchez and others are out with injuries.
“It just feels good to have an opportunity to help the team,” Urshela said through a translator.
He helped the Yankees two innings earlier as well: After seven consecutive hitless innings for New York, Clint Frazier doubled and scored on Urshela’s flyout in the 12th.
“I wanted to go home,” Frazier said. “That’s where I found the extra gear.”
Brian Goodwin delivered a tying RBI single with two outs in the 12th for the Angels, who have lost seven of eight despite an outstanding game from their pitching staff.
Even that gutsy rally against closer Aroldis Chapman came at a cost: Zack Cozart, who was on first after getting hit by a pitch to extend the rally, injured his face or neck on the bag while diving back to second base after Goodwin’s hit.
With no more position players on the bench, their Angels were forced to make a series of substitutions that ended with outfielder Peter Bourjos playing second base — and playing it well — for the first time in his 1,347-game pro career in the majors and minors.
“(Bench coach) Josh Paul was just trying to find out who had played other positions,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “(Bourjos) had played the infield at some point.”
Bourjos then promptly made a diving stop on Brett Gardner’s grounder and threw him out at first in the 13th.
“He made a nice play,” Ausmus said. “I thought that might be the turning point in the game, but unfortunately it wasn’t.”
Jonathan Holder (1-0) pitched the final two innings for the Yankees, striking out pitcher Trevor Cahill with a runner on first to end it. Cahill was batting because Cozart’s untimely injury also forced the Angels to lose their designated hitter spot in the lineup.
“It’s a (tough) loss, but we’re good in here,” Angels starter Matt Harvey said. “Everybody is staying positive and focused on our task. We’ll be fine.”
Before the late-night madness, two winless starting pitchers had strong outings.
Happ pitched seven innings of three-hit ball for the Yankees, retiring 12 of the Angels’ final 13 batters.
Harvey pitched six innings of three-hit ball in a bounce-back effort for the Angels. The longtime Mets right-hander had a 1.25 ERA in three previous Subway Series starts against the Yankees, and he retired 11 of his final 12 hitters.
Luke Voit reached base in his career-best 33rd consecutive game and extended his hitting streak to nine games with his solo homer in the first inning.
Jonathan Lucroy’s second-inning shot was his first homer with the Angels.
Yankees: Sánchez went 0 for 3 in a rehab game for Class A Charleston, playing five innings before leaving the park to head to California. The catcher went on the injured list April 12 with a left calf strain, but could play in Wednesday’s game.
Angels: Shohei Ohtani took batting practice and ran the bases. The AL Rookie of the Year is likely to face live pitching soon and is still on track to return to the lineup in May.
Yankees opening day starter Domingo Germán (3-1, 2.37 ERA) will look to bounce back from his first loss of the season against Chris Stratton (0-1, 7.00), who has struggled to settle in after the Angels acquired him last month.
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