Baseball / Sports

Angels pummel the Yankees

NEW YORK -- Nothing can ease the pain of a heartbreaking loss like an off day and a blowout victory.

That's just what the Angels did, with a 13-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night, a laugher for a club that blew a ninth-inning three-run lead Wednesday in Washington.

"We really needed that win tonight, to get back on track," said C.J. Wilson, who continued his mastery of the Yankees.

The Angels, whose offense has been surprisingly robust despite the loss of Josh Hamilton, clubbed four homers, adding to their league-leading total. Their 35 homers set a club record for the season's first month.

Albert Pujols, who hit his major league-leading ninth homer, was joined in the homer brigade by Ian Stewart, Collin Cowgill and Erick Aybar.

Aybar, who hit hit first homer of the year, had four hits, improving to 11 for 17 in his last four games. He has raised his average from .175 to .275.

"Aybar has been working on some things in his posture, trying to get more upright," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's been working with some things in his stance, seeing the ball better and hitting the ball hard."

Most of the damage was done against Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda, who went into the game with a 2.16 ERA against the Angels.

While Kuroda's dominance over the Angels didn't last, Wilson's over the Yankees did.

Wilson, who allowed one run in six innings, is 4-0 with a 1.65 ERA against the Yankees since signing with the Angels. He has a 2.43 ERA at the new Yankee Stadium.

"I love New York," Wilson said. "I think one of the big things for pitching well here is you have to understand what you're getting into. You know the fans are going to be on top of your case. When you're warming up, they're going to be calling you a bum or whatever."

New Yorkers didn't recognize Wilson a day earlier, when he was playing catch in Central Park to keep his arm loose.

"I had to throw in jeans and socks," Wilson said. "People were out there playing softball. No one even noticed."


Angels fans -- and opponents -- won't have Ernesto Frieri to kick around.

At least not in save situations.

The embattled reliever has been demoted from the closer role after a rough start to his season, the lowlight of which was a blown three-run lead Wednesday night.

Joe Smith will now pitch in save situations, Manager Mike Scioscia said before Friday's game. Frieri will move down the bullpen pecking order into low-leverage situations until he rights himself.

"Short term, Joe will be good and hopefully give Ernie a chance to find his release point," Scioscia said.

Frieri had a 9.35 ERA in his first 10 games, with two blown saves in four opportunities. The most egregious of them came Wednesday in Washington, when he took the mound with a 4-1 lead and was charged with four runs. Frieri has also allowed five homers, tied for the team lead, despite pitching only 82/3 innings.

"They are doing it because they want to help me," Frieri said. "They are right. I want to be able to help the team, and right now, the way I'm pitching, I'm not helping them. They say they want to give me some time off to find myself, to find my confidence."

Last season, Frieri had a rough stretch in late July and early August, and briefly ceded the closer role to Dane De La Rosa. Frieri won the job back in a couple of weeks, and he finished the season strong.

"Historically Ernie responds well to this," Scioscia said. "We need this. I think this is the best route to take to get to the final solution that we want."

Frieri pitched the eighth inning of Friday's blowout win, and he retired the Yankees in order, mixing in changeups and sliders with his fastball.

"I made some pretty good pitches today," Frieri said. "I threw the changeup whenever I wanted for a strike, threw my slider in the dirt when I wanted. Threw my fastball whenever I wanted. That's the way I should pitch all the time."

The closer role now goes to Smith, who has not allowed a run in 10 of his 11 outings, including the past four. Smith has only three saves in his career, but he's been one of baseball's most consistent setup men, posting a 2.99 ERA in 450 games.


The news of Major League Baseball's clarification of the transfer rule was well-received in the Angels clubhouse. For most of the season's first month, a ball was ruled to be caught only after the fielder took it out of his glove in his bare hand. The new ruling is that a player must just secure the ball in his glove, which is how it had been called by umpires before this year's addition of instant replay.

"I feel like they got it right," Howie Kendrick said. "I think it's pretty cool they stepped up and got a deal done and got a rule changed."

Scioscia added: "It's great it was adjusted. It was obvious to everyone on the field it needed to be adjusted."


Ian Stewart got the start at third over David Freese, who is batting .145, but Scioscia it was just because of the matchup against Hiroki Kuroda, a tough right-hander. Scioscia said Freese will still get "the lion's share of the playing time" at third. ...

Hector Santiago, who grew up about 25 miles from Yankee Stadium, said busloads of people from his New Jersey hometown would be attending the games this weekend. Santiago makes his first start at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. ...

Mike Trout had a 13-game hitting streak against the Yankees snapped. ...

J.B. Shuck made a diving catch in left field. ...

The Angels got to .500 for the fifth time, but they still have not been over .500.

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