ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — DJ LeMahieu hardly ever shows emotion between the lines, so his modest celebration after rounding first base must have meant his ninth-inning hit was something even bigger than the moment.
Whether it’s a 5-0 deficit in the sixth inning or their dismaying list of injured stars, these New York Yankees are surmounting every obstacle with an early season determination that’s already worth cheering.
LeMahieu singled home Tyler Wade with the tiebreaking run in the ninth, and the Yankees rallied from a five-run deficit for their sixth consecutive victory, 6-5 over the hapless Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
“We don’t have our big dogs, but we’re finding a way, and it feels good,” LeMahieu said. “We’ve got a lot of good players. That speaks to this organization. It’s not how we drew it up in spring training, but we’re getting wins and having fun.”
The ninth-inning rally was pure grit: Wade made up for an earlier baserunning mishap with a two-out single off Ty Buttrey (1-1). After Wade stole second, LeMahieu was down to his last strike before he popped a short single to right, driving in his third run of the night and celebrating with one enthusiastic clap of his hands.
New York is still without Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Troy Tulowitzki, all among a revolving dozen players on its injured list. The Yankees shrugged it all off and rallied to win at Angel Stadium for a franchise-record sixth straight time.
This one looked unlikely after CC Sabathia fell short of recording his 3,000th career strikeout while yielding four earned runs and six hits over five innings.
Andrelton Simmons hit two homers off Sabathia, and Kole Calhoun added a three-run homer during the Los Angeles’ four-run fourth inning.
But the last-place Angels blew it all in their ninth loss in 10 games. Buttrey was one strike away from completing three innings of scoreless relief before the Yankees rallied.
“It’s been unbelievable to watch these guys,” Sabathia said. “Just the grittiness. We’ve got injuries … but no one is going to hang their head.”
Jonathan Loáisiga (1-0) pitched three innings of two-hit relief in his first game back from the minors. Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
“Winning is a lot of fun, and the way these guys are picking each other up, rallying around the adversity we’ve had, it’s become a calling card for them,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Reliever Cam Bedrosian made his first career start as an opener for the Angels before Félix Peña took over and struck out eight over five strong innings. The Angels were cruising until the sixth, when New York cobbled together two runs on LeMahieu’s double and a passed ball.
“It is frustrating when you go ahead and you feel a little comfortable, but right now we’re just in a rough patch,” Simmons said. “We’ve just got to keep fighting through it until we get some breaks. It’s not lacking of effort. We’re just a little unfortunate at times.”
The Yankees didn’t get a hit until the fifth, but they made a tying three-run rally in the seventh with just one hit. After Angels reliever Luis Garcia walked Wade with the bases loaded, Mike Tauchman tied it by beating Simmons’ throw to the plate.
Gary Sánchez struck out four times for the Yankees, who activated their catcher from the injured list before the game and immediately installed him in the cleanup spot. “Just a bit off, maybe a little late, but I feel really good,” Sánchez said through a translator.
The Yankees could have had more runs in the seventh, but the Angels made an unlikely double play: Mike Trout made a sprinting catch on Brett Gardner’s long drive, and Simmons then alertly tagged out Wade from behind when the New York baserunner lifted his foot off second base.
Trout went 0 for 3 with a seventh-inning walk. The two-time AL MVP has reached base in his first 22 consecutive games, extending a career best to start a season, but has just three extra-base hits and two RBIs since April 7.
Sabathia needed six strikeouts in Anaheim to become the 17th member of the 3,000 club, but the veteran left-hander managed to strike out just three Angels. The 38-year-old veteran, who had family and friends in the Big A stands hoping to see the milestone, will have to wait at least one more start to become the third left-hander with 3,000 strikeouts and the first new member of the club since John Smoltz in April 2008.
Yankees: Sánchez went on the injured list April 12 with a left calf strain. … Clint Frazier didn’t play after spraining his left ankle Monday, and he will placed on the injured list Thursday, Boone said.
Angels: Shohei Ohtani faced live pitching for the first time since Tommy John surgery, making four plate appearances in a simulated game. … Tyler Skaggs (sprained left ankle) will return from the injured list to start Friday in Kansas City.
Trevor Cahill (1-2, 5.47 ERA) tries to avoid his second loss of the Angels’ homestand when he takes the mound in the series finale. New York goes for the sweep behind Masahiro Tanaka (2-1, 2.76), who has never lost to the Angels in six career starts.