The Angels lost just their second series since June 12, with Thursday's 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees pushing them two games back of the first-place Texas Rangers.
Seldom-used slugger Russell Branyan slammed a three-run home run off Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning -- the second homer the Angels hit off the Yankees legend this series -- but their rally fell short.
Branyan. Talk about degree of difficulty. Not only was Branyan facing a future Hall of Famer, but he hadn't seen a live pitch in three weeks, as he has remained planted on the bench with Mark Trumbo figuring out how to hit tough right-handers. He swung at Rivera's first pitch to him and sent it arcing into the right-field seats to give the Angels a chance.
Yankees lefties. The Angels would have had their 15th winning series in their last 17 tries if they had been able to pitch to Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano. Then again, a few other teams could have probably said the same thing. Those two left-handed hitters went 11-for-24 with six home runs and 13 RBIs combined in the three-game series. Tough to overcome that production from just two hitters.
Chatwood. He wasn't dominant, but the Angels need some stability at the back of their rotation and the 21-year old gave them some by pitching into the sixth inning and allowing only two runs. He improved on the performance of the other rookie in the Angels' rotation from the night before, which allowed some relievers to get a little rest. The Angels figure to need lots of pitching in Toronto, where the Blue Jays are scoring a lot of runs.
Pitching in the Bronx. When Curtis Granderson swung and made contact with Tyler Chatwood's pitch to him in the sixth inning, his head slumped as if he'd just hit a routine fly ball. The ball carried 10 rows deep into the right-field bleachers. No wonder Granderson has 32 home runs. Right field at Yankee Stadium is even more hitter-friendly than the old place.
Concentration. Maicer Izturis is one of the steadiest fielders the Angels have, but he took his eye off Mark Teixeira's routine chopper in the seventh inning on what would have been the third out. It was only Izturis' second error. You pretty much knew the Angels were in trouble at that point, as the Yankees for years have punished teams that make mistakes. Bam, Robinson Cano hit the lights-out grand slam off Scott Downs.
Homecomings.Vernon Wells is carrying some pretty embarrassing numbers with him as he returns to Toronto for the first time since being traded to the Angels in January. He's making it far too easy for Blue Jays fans to be glad their team got out from under his big contract. Wells has seven hits in his last 48 at-bats and he's only driven in three runs in August.