ANAHEIM — Didi Gregorius got another curtain call on Friday night — only this one was 3,000 miles away from home.
Gregorius continued his torrid start to the season, blasting a go-ahead solo homer in the 10th inning, as the Yankees came back to beat the Angels 4-3 and increase their winning streak to seven in front of a pro-Bomber crowd at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
“That was a little weird for me,” said Gregorius, who is having an MVP caliber April. “I didn’t expect that to be honest. But my teammates told me to give the fans what they want.
“Especially the guy to my side right here,” Gregorius continued, referring to Aaron Judge. “That’s why he’s laughing.”
After a three-hit evening, Gregorius is now batting .368 with an MLB-high tying 10 homers and 30 RBIs in the first 25 games of the year. He has five homers in his last six games. Friday’s was his first homer one the road in 2018.
“It’s awesome,” Giancarlo Stanton said of watching Gregorius right now. “Especially getting a front-row seat for it in the on-deck circle. It’s good. We need it.”
Stanton had never seen an opposing player receive a curtain call before.
“Baseball’s got a lot of firsts, and that’s a first, too,” he said.
Aaron Boone is enjoying watching his 28-year-old shortstop, who has never made an All-Star team yet, as manager.
“It seems like he’s got a lot of magic when he’s up there,” Boone said of Gregorius.
It was a wild and crazy game that went back and forth — featuring its share of defensive gems and questionable umpiring calls.
With the Yankees holding a 2-1 lead and two outs in the seventh, Andrelton Simmons delivered a two-run triple off Luis Severino that put the Angels ahead 3-2. But the Bombers staged a ninth-inning rally to tie the game at 3-3 on pinch-hitter Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly.
Aroldis Chapman worked around a two-out double by Zack Cozart to record the save.
Shohei Ohtani stuck it to the Yankees in his first game against the team that was favored to land him — but never really had a chance to get him — drilling an unforgettable solo homer off Severino in the second.
“He’s good. Next time, I’m not throwing inside anymore,” Severino said. “I have to tip my cap.”
Ohtani, though left the game in the seventh due to a mild left ankle sprain. He appeared to make contact with Neil Walker’s foot in his second at-bat at first as the two were converging on the base after Ohtani hit a broken-bat grounder to Walker.
Ohtani received treatment and was expected to be re-evaluated on Saturday.
Severino allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.
Walker, who has struggled at the plate since signing in The Bronx, is going to have nightmares of what could’ve been.
In the fourth, with two on and two outs, Walker drilled a deep fly ball to left that was caught by Upton right in front of the wall.
Two innings later, chaos ensued.
With two on and one out, Walker drilled a deep fly ball to right which Kole Calhoun snagged with a remarkable leaping catch at the wall and turned into a 9-4 double-play, leaving Walker stunned.
“It makes you wonder if I haven’t gone to church enough,” Walker joked. “Sometimes when it rains, it pours. So you’ve got to keep your head up and stay in a positive place.”
Gregorius did manage to tag and score on the play for a sacrifice fly, though it was unclear as to why Stanton was called out as he didn’t appear to leave early from second.
It was also possible, according to one replay angle on YES Network, that Gregorius didn’t touch home until after Stanton was called out on the play. Seriously.
Boone took responsibility after the game, saying he should’ve challenged the play immediately due to the fact that it was a boundary play. Instead, the manager was focused on whether Gregorius had scored before Stanton was called out.
By the time Boone was ready to challenge, his allotted time had run out.
Yankees bench coach Josh Bard was ejected for expressing his displeasure with homeplate umpire Alan Porter after Aaron Judge took his second called third strike of the game in the fourth inning.
MLB.com’s pitch tracker showed it should’ve been a ball. Porter’s expanded strike zone drew anger from both dugouts throughout the evening.
Lefty Andrew Heaney, who came in with a 4.76 career ERA, K’d Judge three times — and finished with nine strikeouts overall in five-plus innings.
Luis Severino, Gleyber Torres, Didi Gregorius, Albert Pujols, Andrelton Simmons and Giancarlo Stanton also made sparklingly defensive plays. Aaron Hicks tied the game at 1 in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.
Stanton nearly put the Yankees ahead himself in the eighth, but flew out to deep left.
Two innings later, though, Gregorius delivered as usual. And Walker squeezed the final out, allowing the Bombers to leave with a hard-fought victory.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Luis Severino threw it in at 97.2 mph. Shohei Ohtani hit it out at 112 mph. Ohtani’s 410-foot solo homer with one out in the second was simply incredible, as he stuck it to the Yankees yet again.
Miguel Andujar’s second double of the game — this one off Kenyan Middleton with one out in the ninth — advanced Gary Sanchez, who had led off the inning with a walk, to third. The Angels intentionally walked Gleyber Torres to load the bases, and pinch-hitter Brett Gardner tied the game at 3-3 with a sacrifice fly. Andujar already has 11 doubles in 18 games.
STAR OF THE GAME
Didi Gregorius. Who else?
STAT OF THE DAY
5. Albert Pujols is five hits shy of 3,000 after picking up a single on Friday night (2,995).
Kole Calhoun made two brilliant defensive plays in the outfield — also robbing Gleyber Torres of a hit with a full extension dive.
Aaron Judge picked up a Golden Sombrero, striking out four times. He finished 0-for-5.
Saturday at Los Angeles (AL), 9:07 p.m. ET, Masahiro Tanaka (3-2, 4.97 ERA) vs. Garrett Richards (3-0, 3.46)
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