ANAHEIM, Calif. – Aaron Judge made history Monday night, becoming just the third Yankee reach the 50 milestone several times in his career.
But it was his main contender for AL MVP — Shohei Ohtani — who had the biggest outburst of the night, as Ohtani’s two-run homer in the fifth put the Angels ahead for good in their 4-3 win at Angel Stadium.
Josh Donaldson’s pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth gave the Yankees some life before Oswaldo Cabrera flied out to deep center to end it.
It sent the Yankees to their third straight loss after a five-game winning streak that now seems like a distant memory.
“I’m not caught up in individual numbers, good or bad,” Judge said. “It’s great, but I’m a little upset about the loss. We’ll talk about that when the season is over.”
Asked what he’ll remember about the big night, Judge said, “I’ll think about a 4-3 loss we had in Anaheim. I wish it could have been a little sweeter with a win.”
Part of the reason it didn’t was that Frankie Montas gave up three home runs – tied for a career high – and for the fourth straight game, the Yankees couldn’t score more than three runs.
It left the Yankees seven games ahead of the second-place Rays in the AL East, which is as small as their lead has been in the division since June 5.
But Judge and Aaron Boone’s teammates marveled at the outfielder’s latest accomplishment.
“It’s 50 [homers] and it’s August,” Boone said. “It’s hard to wrap your mind around what an incredible season he’s having. … The one time they threw to him tonight, he hit it off the rocks [in center field].”
Montas entered with a 1.20 ERA in five starts in Anaheim, his best mark at any ballpark, but that previous success didn’t carry over. Against an Angels team that had just swept Toronto after losing nine of its previous 10 games, Montas gave up a leadoff homer to Luis Rengifo in the bottom of the second as the Yankees trailed, 1-0.
After left-hander Jose Suarez retired the first seven batters of the game, Isiah Kiner-Falefa walked and Cabrera singled down the right field line to put runners on the corners for the Yankees.
DJ LeMahieu, one of many deflated Yankees, then laid down a safety-presser to score Kiner-Falefa. It was another indication of how bad the Yankees offense was that they punted with their leadoff hitter.
Judge was walked intentionally before Andrew Benintendi grounded out to end the inning.
The Yankees went ahead with Rizzo’s two-out solo shot to right in the fourth. It was Rizzo’s first home run since August 17th and only his second since August 2nd.
Former Yankee Mike Ford answered with his first home run of the season with one out in the bottom of the inning.
Kiner-Falefa opened the fourth with a double to left-center, but Cabrera struck out and LeMahieu grounded out to third, keeping Kiner-Falefa at second. Judge was walked intentionally for the second time and Benintendi flew out to right.
Ohtani’s blast to right-center gave the Angels a two-run lead. It was Ohtani’s 29th homer of the season.
Judge got the Yankees back to within a run, but Suarez — who gave up just two runs in six innings — and the Angels’ bullpen did enough to keep the struggling Yankees offense down.
Gleyber Torres was out again and made a careless error in the bottom of the seventh when he didn’t touch second base on what should have been an inning-ending double play.
And Montas, the team’s consolation prize when it couldn’t get top hitter Luis Castillo, now has a 7.01 ERA in five starts as a Yankee.