NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees continue to puzzle, and at times, amaze.
Friday night was one of those games where they did both, a night when their most maligned hitter had a great night, when their oldest player went 4-for-5 and when their starter struggled with his pitch count once again but was able to stay in the game just long enough to get the win.
It was also a night in which their mop-up man almost got mopped up himself, and what should have been a laugher -- 8-1 entering the ninth -- wound up being a nail-biter, as first Esmil Rogers, and then Dellin Betances made a mess of the ninth inning allowing the Los Angeles Angels to score five times and make a game of it.
But in the end, the 8-7 final was the Yankees' fourth straight win, a streak that comes on the heels of losing three out of four to the lowly Oakland Athletics less than a week ago. Nathan Eovaldi (5 1/3 IP, 4H, 1R, 4BB, 4K) got the win, with help from Chasen Shreve (1 2/3 hitless innings) and Jacob Lindgren (1 inning, 2 Ks). But then Rogers came in, faced five batters, allowed four hits and a walk, and left the bases loaded for Betances, who allowed three inherited runners to score on a two-run single and a bases-loaded walk. He then allowed one run of his own to make it 8-7. Betances finally struck out pinch-hitter Carlos Perez to end the game with the tying run at third.
Bye-bye Barry: Alex Rodriguez left his buddy Barry Bonds in the dust with his fifth-inning RBI, No. 1,997 of his career, moving him into sole possession of second place on baseball's all-time list. A-Rod's got a ways to go to claim the top spot, however: Hank Aaron is still 300 ahead with 2,297.
Golden Rod: Rodriguez had four hits, including a seventh-inning double, and scored the Yankees' eighth run on Chris Young's pinch-hit single. He is now just nine hits shy of A-Rod3K. When's that HBO special going to air?
Two for Drew: Suddenly, Stephen Drew's bat has come alive. Although his average is still below the Mendoza Line, Drew belted two home runs off Angels starter Jered Weaver -- one in the second inning and the another in the sixth -- and now has more home runs than all but three other Yankees (Mark Teixeira, A-Rod and Brian McCann). The second one chased Weaver from the game and gave the Yankees a 7-1 lead.
Slow ride: Weaver floated one in to Teixeira -- a curveball clocked at 68 MPH -- and Teixeira floated it right out again, hitting a towering fly ball that landed in the right-field seats with two outs in the third that extended the Yankees' lead to 4-0. It was Teixeira's 17th HR of the season, leaving him one behind Nelson Cruz and Bryce Harper for the MLB lead.
Triple threat: The world is spinning back on its axis correctly now that Brett Gardner has taken over the team lead in triples. His liner into the left-center gap with one out in the fifth was his second triple of the season, breaking a seven-way tie with Chase Headley, John Ryan Murphy, Garrett Jones, Rodriguez (!), McCann (!!) and Carlos Beltran (!!!). Gardner came around to score on Rodriguez's single to right.
A walk in the park: The Angels drew four walks in the sixth inning but somehow managed to score just one run thanks to their inability to come up with a timely hit. Eovaldi walked the bases loaded, prompting his removal from the game, and Shreve got an infield groundout that scored L.A.'s first run of the game and moved the runners to second and third. Shreve then issued a walk to re-load the bases, but escaped major damage when Erick Aybar struck out to end the inning.