NEW YORK — Jerome Williams did a great job Sunday night of blocking out all the distractions he knew would come with making his Yankee Stadium debut on Jackie Robinson Day in a prime-time game televised nationally by ESPN.
Then the second inning started.
The Angels right-hander breezed through the first inning, needing 15 pitches to retire Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, but he took a nose-dive over the next 12/3 innings, giving up five runs, five hits and three walks.
That put the Angels in a hole they couldn't climb out of during an 11-5 loss to the New York Yankees that dropped them to 3-6 and 41/2 games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West, a sizeable and surprising early deficit.
"We're only nine games in — I guess if we were playing a 10-game season, we'd be in trouble," said second baseman Howie Kendrick, who came within a home run of hitting for the cycle. "Once we start to hit better, pitch better and play better defense, it will all come together."
The Angels thought they'd have one of baseball's best rotations, but their starters have combined for a 3-4 record with a 5.23 earned-run average. The bullpen has been shaky, and Sunday was no different, Hisanori Takahashi giving up a game-breaking three-run home run to Jeter in the fourth inning and Jason Isringhausen giving up a two-run shot to Raul Ibanez into the second deck in right field in the seventh.
The Angels thought they'd have a deep and powerful lineup, but the offense has been spotty, with soft spots throughout. The Angels were one for 11 with runners in scoring position Sunday, and Torii Hunter whaled through his second straight three-strikeout game.
"I know I'm not doing my job right now," Hunter said. "The last two games were pretty rough, but we've got to keep hacking, make some adjustments and get some normalcy, at home and on the road."
Hunter wouldn't elaborate on his last comment, but six of the Angels' first nine games were day games, two in the Central time zone and two in the East, and they played home openers in Anaheim, Minnesota and New York.
"It's a little bit of everything," Hunter said. "Come Monday or Tuesday, you might see some different guys, some different players. ... We're not panicking at all. It's going to change."
The game changed quickly Sunday for Williams, who was staked to a 1-0 lead on Mark Trumbo's second-inning homer but gave it back in the bottom of the second, as Robinson Cano singled, Mark Teixeira walked and Ibanez hit a run-scoring single.
The Yankees scored four runs in the third inning, a rally that included two Williams walks, Jeter's double, Rodriguez's run-scoring single and Teixeira's run-scoring double.
"I don't know what happened," Williams said. "The first inning was fine. The next two were weird. I couldn't find the strike zone, I wasn't getting ahead in counts, and it just kept rolling."
Jeter's homer extended the Yankees lead to 8-1. The Angels cut it to 8-5 on Chris Iannetta's two-run homer in the fifth, Maicer Izturis' run-scoring double in the sixth and Albert Pujols' run-scoring single in the seventh.
But New York tacked on three runs in the bottom of the seventh.