Jameson Taillon struck out Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout in the seventh inning and felt maybe perfection was possible.
When that fell apart an inning later, he wasn’t as disappointed to miss a shot in history as he was to drop the first inning of the game.
“I was pretty sick about it,” he said.
His Yankees teammates had the perfect cure.
Taillon had a perfect game in the eighth and then fell behind before New York overtook the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 Thursday night on a clutch hit from slugger Anthony Rizzo.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Rizzo anchored a two-run single down the middle. Clay Holmes left the bases loaded in the ninth, and the Yankees swept a thrilling doubleheader while handing the Angels their eighth straight loss — the team’s worst slip-up since 2019.
New York won the opener 6-1, with manager Joe Maddon indicating Ohtani might have swung his shots over the mound to the crafty Bronx Bombers. The AL MVP gave away the solo home runs to Matt Carpenter, Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge.
Jared Walsh ended Taillon’s bid for a perfect game in the top of the eighth with a ground double on the glove of shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. He scored on Kurt Suzuki’s single for a 1-0 lead.
“There was a certain moment where I was sitting in the tunnel and I was kind of thinking, like, my mates from other teams are probably starting to realize that,” Taillon said, adding: “I was really thinking that there was a small chance that we might do it.”
The Yankees responded by charging the bases with one out in the bottom half against Oliver Ortega (1-2). Archie Bradley picked up and knocked out Joey Gallo, then got two strikes on Rizzo.
The former Chicago Cubs star tore up a 1-2 pitch down the middle, easily scoring Miguel Andújar and Kiner-Falefa.
“There’s no panic or roller coaster, if you will,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the topsy-turvy ending. “It’s like, ‘We have to find a way here.'”
Holmes replaced Taillon for the ninth and earned his seventh save. He walked Ohtani with two outs, drilled Trout in the left arm with a throw and also dunked Walsh on the knee before Luis Rengifo was knocked out.
Trout seemed to be in a lot of pain but stayed in the game.
Taillon allowed two hits, striking out five without a walk on a season-high 101 shots.
Ohtani joined Hall of Fame slugger Jimmie Foxx as the only players to start both ends of a doubleheader, one of them as a pitcher, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Foxx did it with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945 in the last month of his career.
Taillon went seven innings on 83 pitches, six out of a perfect game with Ohtani and Trout already out of his way.
Walsh started the eighth with a grounder in the middle. Kiner-Falefa, moved to the right side of second base, chased him, slipped and rushed to catch and throw backhand. The ball popped out of his glove into shallow left field, sending Walsh up to second place.
Taillon grimaced slightly and spat, but otherwise he didn’t react much to the blow.
He was visited by a coach three batters later after covering first base at Brandon Marsh. The right-hander insisted he was good to stay, then gave up Suzuki’s line drive to the left that tagged Walsh.
Taillon said he had a “zinger” in his surgically repaired right ankle on the floor at Marsh, which happens once in a while and isn’t a problem.
Kiner-Falefa preserved the perfect game in the seventh with a nice backhand save and an unbalanced throw to get Ohtani. The two-way star begged Maddon to challenge, but replays showed the throw just beat the speedy Ohtani.
Trout then flew to the left, earning a big ovation from a Yankee Stadium crowd that smelled history.
“When Izzy made this game, you kind of started letting your mind go,” Boone said.
After left-hander Nestor Cortes pitched seven scoreless innings in Game 1, Taillon became the seventh straight Yankees starter to cover at least six innings, a first for the franchise since 2017.
Taillon mixed six different pitches, showing the finesse and control that led to a blistering start to the season. After right ankle surgery in the offseason, he’s 6-1 with a 2.30 ERA and five walks in 58 2/3 innings.
Taillon’s opponent on the mound, Reid Detmers, threw one of two major league hits this season. Detmers did not touch Tampa Bay on May 10. The other was a five-pitch combined effort by the New York Mets on April 29 against Philadelphia.
Detmers skated around in trouble to go 4 1/3 innings scoreless. Jimmy Herget, Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera allowed Los Angeles to pass the seventh with a white ball.
Maddon said he believed New York picked up a message from Ohtani through “natural means.”
“We just have to be more vigilant,” Maddon said.
Carpenter started the first inning with a homer that capped an 11-pitch at-bat, and Ohtani (3-4) didn’t get his first swing and missed until his 54th pitch. He was charged with four runs over three innings before Maddon pulled the plug after 75 pitches.
Cortes (5-1) delivered seven neat innings, DJ LeMahieu also homered and the major league-leading Yankees secured a series victory.
The game was delayed by 1 hour and 28 minutes, before the start of the ninth in the rain. Wandy Peralta returned after the break and finished for his first save, pulling Ohtani out to end it.
Cortes scattered five hits, walked two and struck out seven of 96 pitches. He dropped his ERA to 1.50, trailing only Martin Perez of Texas at 1.42 for the major league lead.
Angels: LHP Jhonathan Diaz was added as Los Angeles’ 27th man for the doubleheader and pitched four innings in Game 1.
Yankees: OF Estevan Florial was called up as New York’s 27th man. Florial was moved back to Triple-A afterwards and RHP David McKay was also opted for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Angels: Trout, a New Jersey native, plays close to home as Los Angeles opens a three-game series at Philadelphia. RHP Chase Silseth (1-1, 3.07 ERA) is scheduled for Friday’s opener against Phillies RHP Zach Eflin (1-4, 4.60).
Yankees: RHP Gerrit Cole (4-1, 3.12) is set to face Tigers RHP Elvin Rodriguez (0-0, 6.17) in Game 1 of a three-game set in the Bronx.
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