ANAHEIM, Calif. — Aaron Judge made history on Monday night, becoming just the third Yankee to reach the 50-homer milestone multiple times in his career.
But it was his main challenger for AL MVP — Shohei Ohtani — who had the biggest blast of the night, as Ohtani’s two-run homer in the fifth put the Angels ahead for good in their 4-3 win at Angel Stadium.
Josh Donaldson’s pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth gave the Yankees some life before Oswaldo Cabrera flied out to deep center to end it.
It sent the Yankees to their third straight loss after a five-game winning streak that now seems a distant memory.
“I don’t get caught up in individual numbers, good or bad,” Judge said. “It’s great, but I’m kind of upset about the loss. We’ll talk about how this feels once the season is over.”
Asked what he’ll remember about the momentous night, Judge said, “I’ll be thinking about a 4-3 loss we had in Anaheim. I wish it could have been a little sweeter with a victory.”
Part of the reason it wasn’t was that Frankie Montas gave up three homers — tied for a career high — and for a fourth consecutive game, the Yankees couldn’t score more than three runs.
It left the Yankees seven games ahead of the second-place Rays in the AL East, which is as small as their lead has been in the division since June 5.
But Judge’s teammates and Aaron Boone marveled at the outfielder’s latest accomplishment.
“It’s 50 [homers] and it’s August,” Boone said. “It’s hard to wrap your mind around just what an incredible season he’s having. … The one time they pitched to him tonight he hit it off the rocks [in center field].”
Montas entered with a 1.20 ERA in five starts in Anaheim, his best mark at any ballpark, but that previous success didn’t carry over. Against an Angels team that just swept Toronto after losing nine of its previous 10 games, Montas gave up a leadoff homer to Luis Rengifo in the bottom of the second, as the Yankees fell behind, 1-0.
After left-hander Jose Suarez retired the first seven batters of the game, Isiah Kiner-Falefa walked and Cabrera singled down the right-field line to put runners on the corners for the Yankees.
DJ LeMahieu, one of many slumping Yankees, then laid down a safety-squeeze bunt to score Kiner-Falefa. It was another indication of how bad the Yankee offense has been, that they bunted with their leadoff hitter.
Judge was walked intentionally before Andrew Benintendi grounded out to end the inning.
The Yankees went ahead with Rizzo’s two-out solo shot to right in the fourth. It was Rizzo’s first homer since Aug. 17 and just his second since Aug. 2.
Former Yankee Mike Ford answered with his first homer of the season with one out in the bottom of the inning.
Kiner-Falefa opened the fourth with a double to left-center, but Cabrera struck out and LeMahieu grounded to third, keeping Kiner-Falefa at second. Judge was walked intentionally for a second time and Benintendi flied to right.
Ohtani’s blast to right-center gave the Angels a two-run lead. It was Ohtani’s 29th homer of the season.
Judge got the Yankees back to within a run, but Suarez—who gave up just two runs in six innings—and the Angels’ bullpen did enough to keep the struggling Yankee offense down.
Gleyber Torres went hitless again and made a careless mistake in the bottom of the seventh, when he failed to touch second base on what should have been an inning-ending double play.
And Montas, the team’s consolation prize when it couldn’t land top target Luis Castillo, now has a 7.01 ERA in five starts as a Yankee.