At the conclusion of Parker Bridwell’s postgame media session Tuesday night, reporters scattered around Yankee Stadium’s spacious visiting clubhouse, targeting the night’s stars. Unfamiliar with his major league surroundings, Bridwell lingered for several seconds before approaching a reporter.
“Am I good to leave now?” he said.
A year ago this month, the Angels arrived in New York requiring a spot starter for the series opener. They turned to left-hander David Huff, who couldn’t finish four innings, lost, and signed to pitch in South Korea the next month.
This time, they offered Bridwell, by no means an established pitcher. That has been the theme of the club’s campaign, one week short of the halfway mark. Stricken with similar injuries as in 2016, they have resorted to better replacements. To date, those stand-ins are saving the Angels season.
Upon trouncing the Yankees 8-3, the Angels ascended back to .500, only one game out of a wild-card slot. They crushed seven extra-base hits in a sturdy, balanced offensive performance that began at once.
Cameron Maybin knocked Yankees starter Michael Pineda’s second pitch into the right-field corner for a double. After Kole Calhoun walked, Albert Pujols ripped the first pitch he saw into left field and Maybin galloped home.
In the second inning, Eric Young Jr.’s tapper slithered through the legs of first baseman Chris Carter. With one out, Danny Espinosa stroked a double to center field, driving in Young. Espinosa scored when Calhoun slapped a single to left-center field. At that, the Angels went quiet.
Making the second start of his career, Bridwell walked four men in the first three innings. Still, he held the Yankees hitless until the fourth inning, when Starlin Castro rapped a single to right field. Bridwell walked Gary Sanchez before inducing three consecutive flyouts, the second of which brought in a run.
It had been 10 months since Parker gave up a home run. He was a Yankees middle reliever then. Now handling high-leverage situations, he has been another worthy replacement, a man claimed off the waiver wire who probably would not have made the opening-day roster if Huston Street had been healthy. Instead, he has a 2.16 earned-run average in 331/3 innings.
After Parker’s rare mishap, the Angels immediately pushed back ahead. Maybin started the seventh inning with a home run to left field, and Calhoun followed with a double to right. Next, Pujols nearly sent a baseball beyond the wall, but settled for an out that moved Calhoun to third base. Yunel Escobar drove in Calhoun when he hit a ball off the top of the left-field wall, and he too scored when Luis Valbuena singled.
Martin Maldonado doubled and scored in the eighth inning, and Valbuena hit a home run to center field in the ninth.
Six Angels registered two or more hits, including the first five hitters. Maybin, the leadoff man, led with three, much to the delight of Escobar, who vacated the spot when he strained a hamstring last month.
“Even when I was leading off,” Escobar said through an interpreter, “I was always telling Maybin that was his spot.”
And so the Angels have weathered the majority of the time they will be without center fielder Mike Trout, thanks to Maybin, Escobar and unexpected performances from the likes of Bridwell, Parker and Young.
“I know we don’t have Mike, but I think tonight’s indicative,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We did a lot of good things without our best player. Guys are starting to do some of the things that we projected.”
The victory boosted everyone’s mood and made postgame humor atypically accessible. Additionally, it extended the club’s record on Tuesdays in 2017 to 12-0, four short of the all-time record to begin a season, held by the 98-win 1997 Baltimore Orioles.
“What’s tomorrow?” Scioscia said. “Tuesday?”
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura