(Sports Network) - The new Yankee Stadium hasn't been an enjoyable place for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the spectacular venue's brief history, but the three-time defending American League West champions will have an opportunity to earn a two-game sweep there when they take the field against the hometown New York Yankees this afternoon.
The Angels lost in six of their seven visits to Yankee Stadium, which included a trio of defeats to the Bronx Bombers in the 2009 AL Championship Series, during the ballpark's first season of existence, then won just one of three road matchups with New York in a series that took place between April 23-25. Anaheim had an easier time in last night's opener of this brief set, however, clubbing three home runs and banging out 14 hits en route to a 10-2 rout of the reigning world champs.
Mike Napoli led the outburst by going 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBI, while Maicer Izturis also went deep and knocked in three runs for the Angels. Former Yankee standout Hideki Matsui added a two-run blast against his ex-team to help Los Angeles win for the fourth time in its last four games.
Napoli has now homered in three consecutive contests and has gone 8-for-16 with six RBI and six runs scored during a four-game hitting streak.
"I was struggling a bit before the [All-Star] break, but I got back to basics and moved my hands up a little bit more," said Napoli. "I got some pitches to hit tonight -- I was just trying to get a good count and feel good up there."
Anaheim also received a solid start out of Sean O'Sullivan (1-0) in Tuesday's triumph. The young right-hander, called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday to replace the injured Scott Kazmir, held the Yankees to two runs and just a pair of hits over the first six innings.
O'Sullivan outpitched New York All-Star Phil Hughes (11-3), who was tagged for six runs on nine hits and three walks over a shaky five-plus innings.
The Yankees put up two runs in the bottom of the first inning, with Nick Swisher's solo homer starting the scoring, to take an early lead, but managed just four hits off O'Sullivan and the Anaheim bullpen the rest of the way.
"We scored a couple early runs, but they just kept coming after us," said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. "We just need to keep our heads up -- we can't get frustrated."
New York was able to maintain its 2 1/2-game advantage on second-place Tampa Bay in the AL East standings after the Rays lost to Baltimore on Tuesday. The Yankees won two of three games from Tampa at home heading into this series.
The Yankees will attempt to rebound behind Javier Vazquez, while the veteran right-hander tries to maintain his outstanding recent form when he takes the mound this afternoon. The offseason addition has rebounded strongly from a poor beginning to the season and enters today's test having compiled a 4-2 record and a 2.55 ERA in an eight-start span that began on June 1.
Vazquez has been especially good over his past two outings. After limiting Oakland to one run and three hits over seven innings in a July 5 victory, he closed out his first half by yielding three hits and striking out seven in seven shutout frames at Seattle on July 10. The 33-year-old was denied a potential win that night, however, when teammate Joba Chamberlain gave up a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth.
The Puerto Rico native will have a chance to rebound from two of his worst showings of the season today. Against the Angels on April 25, Vazquez was tagged for five runs in just 3 2/3 innings of an 8-4 New York loss in Anaheim, which took place 11 days after he surrendered four runs through 5 1/3 frames in a home setback to the Halos. He's yet to defeat Anaheim over the course of his career, bringing an 0-3 record with a 4.38 ERA in six prior matchups with the Halos into this afternoon's clash.
Joel Pineiro opposed Vazquez in that April 14 meeting at Yankee Stadium and will do so again today. The Anaheim right-hander delivered a gem that day, holding the Bronx Bombers to a run on five hits and not issuing a walk over seven excellent innings.
Pineiro wasn't nearly as successful in a rematch with New York later that month, permitting six runs and 11 hits in a six-inning loss at Angel Stadium on April 25. He's been virtually unbeatable as of late, however, racking up seven consecutive wins in eight starts since a June 1 defeat at Kansas City. The Angels have come out on top in each of those contests.
The sinker specialist ran his season record to 10-6 after tossing seven innings of three-run ball against Seattle this past Thursday. Pineiro has posted a 2.51 ERA during his undefeated stretch and lasted seven innings or more in six of his last seven trips to the hill.
In 18 lifetime appearances (10 starts) against the Yankees, Pineiro is 3-4 with a 3.66 ERA.
Tuesday's victory gave the Angels a 4-3 edge in this year's season series with New York.