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“I think, looking back at the key moment was in the second inning with runners on first and third against Conger, I got ahead 0-2, and I pitched a pitch to hit that went up on the wall,” Kuroda said through a translator. “That was the key.”
Kuroda (2-2) struggled in his worst outing of the year, giving up home runs to Albert Pujols and Ian Stewart and allowing 10 hits and eight runs - six earned. The Yankees, meanwhile, had little success against C.J. Wilson, managing just Brett Gardner’s two hits until the sixth inning.
Erick Aybar connected for a three-run drive and Collin Cowgill went deep against Bruce Billings, one of the pitchers called up when Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games after being caught with pine tar on his neck Wednesday night.
The Yankees returned home at 3 a.m. Friday from an eventful 4-3 road trip in which they lost starters Ivan Nova to a season-ending elbow injury and Pineda for two starts. They came out flat against the only AL team with a winning record against them since 2000.
The Angels improved to 66-59 against New York since the turn of the century, but have won just 5 of the last 12.
The Angels’ 35 homers is a club record for March and April and leads the majors. Pujols has a majors-leading nine home runs.
Conger had a pair of RBI doubles and a run-scoring single, Aybar reached base all five times - once when Carlos Beltran dropped his flyball to right field - and scored four runs. Howie Kendrick had three of the Angels’ 16 hits and scored three runs in a game that ended in front of a near-empty stadium in a light rain.
In the lineup because of his success against Kuroda and third baseman David Freese’s struggles, Stewart singled in the second and hit a two-run shot in the third. He went 2 for 3 against the Yankees starter and is 8 for 16 against the righty.
“It was a fun game for us after the off day and after the way the last game went,” Wilson said. “We’re hitting balls all over the place.”
On a chilly night, the Yankees didn’t score until the sixth, when Alfonso Soriano had a sacrifice fly after Derek Jeter singled for his 3,336th hit and Beltran doubled.
The Angels sprayed hits through the Yankees‘ varied shifts, scoring three in the second. Conger doubled in a run, Cowgill drove in another with a sacrifice bunt to first base and J.B. Shuck had an RBI groundout.
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