ANAHEIM, California — Corey Kluber’s return to the mound couldn’t have gone any better until it suddenly couldn’t finish soon enough.
Kluber, who threw a no-hitter against the Rangers on May 19, but left his next start with a right shoulder that kept him off a Major League-hill for more than three months, completely dominated the Angels into the fourth inning Monday-evening. Then his performance fell into a hailstorm of sharp singles and a grand slam by Jack Mayfield.
Although the Yankees brought their “A” game offensively, including an RBI single by Giancarlo Stanton to make it 5 and a 457-foot two-run homer by Stanton to make it 7, it wasn’t enough in a 8-7 loss to the Angels on Monday night at Angels Stadium.
After 13 consecutive wins, the Yankees (76-55) have lost three in a row for a total of four runs. They fell seven games behind the AL East-leading Rays but stayed two games ahead of the Red Sox, who lost to the Rays on Monday, for the top wildcard spot.
“Every day is great,” said Aaron Boone. “Whether we’re in the middle of ten in a row… now we’ve dropped three in a row. We’re giving Ja-mo [Jameson Taillon] tomorrow the ball and we come out and [try to] go get one.”
Number 8 batter Mayfield and number 9 batter Juan Lagares went 4-for-8 with six RBI’s for the Angels, with Lagares’ two-out RBI single by Clay Holmes making a 7-7 tie in the eighth. Wandy Peralta gave up a leadoff single to Brandon Marsh in the inning and was replaced by Holmes, who retired two consecutive singles before letting Lagares’ line-drive single go left on a high, hanging breaking ball.
Raisel Iglesias, the seventh pitcher for the Angels, struckout two batters, including Aaron Judge to end it, in a perfect ninth for his 28th save.
“I thought we made the swing really good,” said DJ LeMahieu, who went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI single. “Came back from a few deficits and had a chance to win.”
Stanton homered for the fifth time in seven games and seventh in 12, with his explosion into the rock pile in center left, giving him 25th overall.
Stanton, Judge and DJ LeMahieu had RBI singles in a three-run fifth that erased the Angels’ 5-2 lead against Kluber.
The night also included the 42nd home run of the season for Shohei Ohtani, a 431 foot blast to rightfield in the fifth off former Angel Andrew Heaney, who has allowed 10 home runs in 28 innings as a Yankee and 26 in 122 innings overall. Ohtani struckout in his other three at bats, twice against Kluber.
After conceding no hits and striking out six in his first 3 1/3 innings, Kluber gave up three consecutive hits in the fourth, the last by Jo Adell, which narrowed the Yankees’ lead to 2-1.
Kluber walked Max Stassi to load the bases with two outs, then Mayfield sent a breaking ball from the first pitch deep to the left for a grand slam that made it 5-2. It was the second grand slam of his career to be surrendered by Kluber, the other by Kansas City’s Alex Gordon in 2013 when Kluber was with Cleveland.
“The last line doesn’t look very good, but if I break it down there was a lot of good to come tonight,” said Kluber, who was 4-3 with a 3.04 ERA in 10 starts before getting injured. “One throw [to Mayfield] I wish I could have it back.”
No Ohtani Tuesday (on the hill). Ohtani will not start as planned on Tuesday night, Angels manager Joe Maddon said before the game. He still has a sore right wrist after he was hit by a pitch against the Padres on Saturday.