Quiet 1st inning for a change, then noise started
Saturday’ game was the eighth of the season for the Yankees and the first in which no runs were scored in the first inning. Each team threatened but neither scored. The Angels got one-out singles from Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols off Phil Hughes, who then struck out Kendrys Morales and Torii Hunter on 94-mph fastballs. Hughes had superb velocity but needed 25 pitches to get through the inning.
The Yankees also had two runners on base in the first inning against C.J. Wilson as Derek Jeter singled off Pujols’ glove and Nick Swisher followed with a single to left. Wilson recovered to catch Robinson Cano looking at a third strike and retire Alex Rodriguez on a fielder’s choice and Mark Teixeira on a check-swing grounder.
For a brief period that inning, there was an awful lot of money on first base where A-Rod was leading off the bag and being held on by Pujols. That was about half a billion dollars’ worth of big-league personnel in one spot.
The Yankees had scored in the first inning of their previous four games for a total of seven runs. Opponents had also scored in four first innings for a total of nine runs.
The Angels got on the board in the second inning on one of the shortest home runs that can be hit in the major leagues. Angels catcher Chris Iannetta lined a first-pitch fastball over the 314-foot sign near the right-field foul pole for a two-run homer. The 315-footer was an opposite-field job for the right-handed hitting Iannetta, who found the fabled right field porch at Yankee Stadium to his liking.
Pujols, who has struggled early on in his transfer to the American League having entered the game batting .222 with no home runs, showed his impressive power in the third inning when he connected on a Hughes fastball above the letters and drove the ball over Curtis Granderson for a double off the center field wall that increased the Angels’ lead to 3-0.
A much longer home run than Iannetta’s ended Hughes’ afternoon prematurely with one out in the fourth. Howie Kendrick got plenty of wood on an 86-mph cut fastball and drilled it into the left field bleachers for a three-run home run. It was Hughes’ 84th pitch, an usually high total less than halfway through a game.