NEW YORK — That ol’ fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff play that never, ever works? Trying telling that to the Los Angeles Angels.
Rookie closer Jordan Walden pulled the much-maligned trick and trapped Curtis Granderson for the final out, and the Angels rode Bobby Abreu’s two-run homer in the ninth inning off closer Mariano Rivera to beat the New York Yankees, 6-4, on Tuesday night.
“I haven’t seen anyone do it since Little League,” Angels veteran Torii Hunter said of the pickoff play.
Abreu connected with two outs for his second home run of the game. The Yankees then began to rally in the bottom half, putting runners at the corners with Mark Teixeira up. Walden bluffed toward third a couple times. The only thing that did was draw boos from the crowd.
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Walden decided to try it once more. He stepped to third as if to make a throw, whirled toward first and – surprise! – Granderson was trying to steal second and caught in no-man’s-land.
“He’s halfway and I’m like, ‘What?’ ” Walden said.
Walden threw to shortstop Erick Aybar, who chased Granderson. Aybar tossed to first baseman Mark Trumbo, who made the tag.
“I was trying to get to second base. The odds are you never really see too many teams do that too many times in an inning,” Granderson said. “So the odds are he’s probably not going to do it again. There’s two strikes and I don’t have too many options to get to second base.”
The Angels saddled New York with its first three-game losing streak since early June.
Abreu’s drive deep into the right-field seats was the second homer allowed this season by Rivera (1-2). The Yankees’ closer faltered for the second consecutive appearance .
“I don’t worry about that. That’s going to happen,” Rivera said. “Unfortunately, it happened tonight.”
Abreu, a former Yankee, connected for his first multihomer game this season and 16th of his career.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Abreu, who also homered in the sixth inning. “You never expect as a hitter you’re going to hit a homer against Mariano.”