Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner falls backward over the wall after catching a long fly ball by Los Angeles Angels first baseman C.J. Cron during the seventh inning of a game in Anaheim on Aug. 20, 2016
By Randy Miller
ANAHEIM, Calif. — It wasn’t that long ago that Yankees rookie Luis Cessa was a Mets castoff who had been one of two Double-A pitchers sent to the Detroit Tigers for Yoenis Cespedis.
The Mexican right-hander has been on the move pretty much ever since that summer of ’15 deal … first to the Yankees in a December 2015 Winter Meetings deal that also brought young righty Chad Green and sent lefty reliever Justin Wilson to the Tigers.
From there, Cessa made the Yankees’ opening day roster as a reliever … then he went down to Triple-A a week into the season to start, and this back and forth from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starter to Yankees middle reliever played out again in June and July and now again in August.
Now up for his fourth big-league stint, Cessa made another switcheroo Saturday night, this time a move to a Yankees rotation that just recently lost Nathan Eovaldi to Tommy John surgery and Luis Severino to a Triple-A demotion.
Finally, Cessa probably will be staying put for at least a little while and perhaps for the rest of the season.
Gee whiz was Cessa masterful.
In yet another young guns headshaker, Cessa pitched a three-hit shutout over six-plus innings and the Yankees rolled to a 5-1 win over Los Angeles Angels.
Cessa was the star of stars on a night rookie catcher Gary Sanchez hit yet another homer and left fielder Brett Gardner saved the Yankees’ shutout in the seventh inning with a you-have-to-see-it leaping catch above the short left-field wall that robbed C.J. Cron of a two-run homer.
Back in the lineup after missing five of six games with a sore ankle, Gardner would have fallen backwards into the left-field stands during his leaping catch if not held up by a fan wearing a Yankees cap.
Sanchez’ homer accounted for the first of three first-inning runs, and it gave him six in 15 games this season and four in his last four.
Cessa, who struck out five and walked one, was handed a 3-0 first-inning lead and then retired the first eight Angels he faced and 17 of 22 overall.
This was the Yankees’ best start by a rookie since Green, also new to the rotation, worked six shutout innings with 11 Ks and no walks in a 1-0 win over Toronto last Monday.
Cessa (3-0) hit 97 mph with his fastball and his slider, better from extensive Triple-A usage this season, was terrific. Cessa first showed off his slider in the first inning when Mike Trout, hitting second, went down swinging.
The Angels’ only hits off Cessa were back-to-back singles by Gregorio Petit and Kole Calhoun with two outs in the third and a leadoff hit in the seventh by Jefry Marte that led to Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard entering.
The only two other Angels reaching on Cessa came in the sixth when Calhoun walked (and promptly was picked off first by Sanchez) and Trout was hit in the back with a 94-mph heater.
The Yankees, who won Friday’s series opener 7-0, were three outs away from consecutive shutouts until Albert Pujols led off the Angels ninth with a homer to left off Dellin Betances.
Cessa pitched all night with a nice lead because the Yanks three two-out runs in the first off Angels starter Ricky Nolasco (4-11).
After Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out, Sanchez homered to left. From there, Didi Gregorius singled to right, Starlin Castro doubled to left and Brian McCann laced a two-run single to right.
The Yanks made it 5-0 in the sixth when Aaron Judge, another of their hotshot rookies, lined a two-run, two-out single to right just after McCann stole his first base of the season with Castro on third.
- The Yankees gained ground on Baltimore, pulling to within four games of the second wild card.
- Rookie first baseman Tyler Austin was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and now is hitless in his last 13 at-bats. He’s batting .150 (3-for-20) in five games since being called up from Triple-A on Aug. 13 and debuting that day with a first-AB homer and 2-for-4 showing against Tampa Bay.
- The Yankees are 6-0 this season against the Angels and can sweep the season series with a victory Sunday.
- Chase Headley missed a second game in a row due to Achilles, so Ronald Torreyes played third again. Torreyes was 1-for-4 with a ninth-inning double in this one after going 4-for-4 with his first career homer on Friday.
- Former Angels outfielder Garret Anderson was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony.
- Sunday: Yankees at Los Angeles Angels, 3:35 p.m., EST; YES Network. RHP Chad Green (2-2, 4.05) vs. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (2-6, 6.10 with Angels).
- Monday: Yankees at Seattle Mariners, 10:10 p.m., EST; YES Network. RHP Michael Pineda (6-10, 4.89) vs. TBA.
- Tuesday: Yankees at Seattle Mariners, 10:10 p.m., EST; YES Network. LHP CC Sabathia (7-10, 4.49) vs. TBA.
- Wednesday: Yankees at Seattle Mariners, 3:40 p.m., EST; YES Network; RHP Masahiro Tanaka (10-4, 3.24) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (14-8, 3.78).