NEW YORK — Relief pitcher Adam Ottavino sailed a 30-foot throw home on Albert Pujols’ tiebreaking chopper, and the sloppy New York Yankees lost to the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 Wednesday night with a chance to clinch the AL East.
New York could still lock up the division title if Tampa Bay loses to the Los Angeles Dodgers later Wednesday. The Yankees would have been assured a playoff spot if Cleveland had lost, but the Indians beat Detroit 3-2 in 10 innings.
Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton stung the ball in his return from injury and CC Sabathia got an emotional send-off in his final regular-season start in the Bronx, yet New York dropped to 99-54 after entering the night tied with Houston for the majors’ best record.
New York hasn’t won the AL East since 2012, the third-longest drought for the club since divisions were formed in 1969.
Angels right-hander Luke Bard (2-2) struck out five over three perfect innings of relief. David Fletcher had three hits and Pujols added two hits, an RBI and a stolen base. Los Angeles had traffic all night and left 13 on base.
Defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons dived to his backhand at shortstop to rob Luke Voit of a hit in the ninth, helping Hansel Robles complete his 22nd save.
Fletcher loaded the bases in the third on an infield single when Voit hesitated at first base on a slow roller, and Ottavino (6-5) blundered two batters later. Pujols hit a big one-hopper toward the mound, and Ottavino missed high and wide trying to toss the ball home. Michael Hermosillo scored to make it 3-2.
Aaron Judge hit a tying, two-run homer for New York in the third, his 24th during an injury-shortened season.
Stanton played just his 10th game this year and first since straining the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee June 25. The 29-year-old slugger lined a double into the left-center gap leading off the second inning, socked a 114.3 mph groundout in the fourth and struck out in the sixth before being replaced in the seventh to manage his workload.
Stanton nearly threw out a runner from left field during the third inning, but catcher Kyle Higashioka dropped the ball trying to apply a swift, difficult tag at the plate.
Pujols nearly had a third hit, but shortstop Didi Gregorius dived to stop his grounder up the middle in the eighth.