NEW YORK (AP) — Jameson Taillon retired Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout in the seventh inning and sensed perfection might be possible.
When that crumbled an inning later, he wasn’t as bummed about blowing a shot at history as he was about giving up the game’s first run.
“I was pretty sick about that,” he said.
His Yankees teammates had the perfect medicine.
Taillon took a perfect game into the eighth, then fell behind before New York rallied past the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 Thursday night on a clutch swing by pinch-hitter Anthony Rizzo.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Rizzo grounded a two-run single up 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 skid since 2019.
New York won the opener 6-1, with manager Joe Maddon indicating that Ohtani may have been tipping his pitches on the mound to the savvy Bronx Bombers. The AL MVP gave up solo homers 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 groundball double off shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s glove. He scored on Kurt Suzuki’s single for a 1-0 lead.
“There was a certain point I was sitting in the tunnel and I was kind of thinking, like, my buddies on other teams are probably starting to be aware of it,” Taillon said, adding: “I definitely thought there’s a small chance we could do it.”
The Yankees countered by loading the bases with one out in the bottom half against Oliver Ortega (1-2). Archie Bradley relieved and struck out Joey Gallo, then got two strikes on Rizzo.
The former Chicago Cubs star ripped a 1-2 pitch right back up the middle, scoring Miguel Andújar and Kiner-Falefa easily.
“There’s no panic or riding the roller coaster, if you will,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the topsy-turvy ending. “It’s like, ‘We’ve got to find a way right 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 pitch and also plunked Walsh on the knee before Luis Rengifo grounded out.
Trout appeared to be in significant pain but remained in the game.
Taillon allowed two hits, striking out five without a walk on a season-high 101 pitches.
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 during the final month of his career.
Taillon cruised through seven innings on 83 pitches, six outs from a perfect game with Ohtani and Trout already out of his way.
Walsh led off the eighth with a grounder up the middle. Kiner-Falefa, shifted to the right side of second base, chased after it, slid and hurried to make a backhand grab and throw. The ball skipped off his mitt into shallow left field, allowing Walsh to reach second.
Taillon grimaced slightly and spit, but otherwise didn’t react much to the hit.
He was visited by a trainer three batters later after covering first base on Brandon Marsh’s groundout. The right-hander insisted he was good to stay in, then gave up Suzuki’s line drive to left that scored Walsh.
Taillon said he had a “zinger” in his surgically repaired right ankle on Marsh’s grounder, which happens from time to time and isn’t a concern.
Kiner-Falefa preserved the perfect game in the seventh with a nice backhand stop and off-balance throw to get Ohtani. The two-way star pleaded with Maddon to challenge, but replays showed the throw to first just beat the speedy Ohtani.
Trout then flied out to left, drawing a big ovation from a Yankee Stadium crowd that sensed history.
“When Izzy made that play, you kind of started letting your mind go there,” Boone said.
After lefty Nestor Cortes pitched seven scoreless innings in the opener, 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, showcasing the finesse and control that’s led to a stellar start to this season. Coming off 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 no-hitters in the majors this season. Detmers no-hit Tampa Bay on May 10. The other was a combined effort by five New York Mets pitchers April 29 against Philadelphia.
Detmers skated around trouble to get through 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Jimmy Herget, Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera got Los Angeles through the seventh with shutout ball.
Maddon said he thought New York had picked up on a tell from Ohtani via “natural means.”
“We just have to be more vigilant,” Maddon said.
Carpenter led off the first inning with a homer that capped an 11-pitch at-bat, and Ohtani (3-4) didn’t get his first swing and miss until his 54th pitch. He was charged with four runs in three-plus innings before Maddon pulled the plug after 75 pitches.
Cortes (5-1) delivered seven tidy innings, DJ LeMahieu also homered and the major league-leading Yankees ensured themselves a series victory.
The game was delayed 1 hour, 28 minutes, prior to the top of the ninth by rain. Wandy Peralta returned after the pause and finished for his first save, striking out Ohtani to end it.
Cortes scattered five hits, walked two and struck out seven on 96 pitches. He dropped his ERA to 1.50, trailing only Texas’ Martin Perez 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 the opener.
Yankees: OF Estevan Florial was called up as New York’s 27th man. Florial was returned to Triple-A after and RHP David McKay was also optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Angels: Trout, a New Jersey native, gets to play close to home as Los Angeles opens a three-game series in Philadelphia. RHP Chase Silseth (1-1, 3.07 ERA) is slated 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 the opener of a three-game set in the Bronx.
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