Oakland, CA – The good thing about a bad start to the season is there’s plenty of baseball left to play to turn things around. The A’s did just that as they rallied back to tie the game before taking the lead in the seventh. Bay Area native CC Sabatiha was the staring Yankees pitcher to kick off the four-game series. He tossed four shutout innings until surrendering two home runs.
“Obviously we’ve been looking for one big hit,” Oakland’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Certainly the way things were going with runners in scoring position, it was a struggle again for a little while, but Lawrie’s hit was huge, to get us back to even.”
The A’s remained patient before exploding on offense to beat New York 5-4. They chipped away at a 3-0 lead the Yankees established early. Billy Burns and Brett Lawrie went yard off Sabathia in the fifth and sixth frames. Oakland had an opportunity to get the offense going in the fourth but Sabathia struck out two batters back-to-back to end the inning after loading the bases.
“Just coming in everyday, knowing we have the ability to not only come back and then go ahead, that’s huge, and we played the game the right way,” said Lawrie. “Ben Zobrist with a great at-bat tonight, that was pretty much the whole game right there.”
The Yankees Brian McCann went 3-for-4 with a solo shot to right field in the second. Alex Rodriguez led off the fourth with a single, Mark Teixeria walked and McCann singled up the middle sending Rodriguez home. Zobrist threw home while Rodriguez alluded Josh Phegley trying to tag him out.
“That was not pretty,” Rodriguez said referring to his tag at home plate. “That looked like Shaquille O’Neal coming off a pick. I’m glad they got it right.”
The initial call was that Rodriguez was out as he tagged the back of home plate, New York challenged the play and the call was overturned, Rodriguez was safe. The Yankees extended their lead 2-0 but weren’t done yet. Rodriguez scored in Brett Gardner in the fifth and tied Barry Bonds for second place on the all time list with his 1,996th career RBI.
“He’s one of the greats and this is kind of special because he’s also a friend,” said Rodriguez when asked about tying Bonds on the all time hit list.
Kendall Graveman made his sixth start after being called back up from Triple-A Nashville last Saturday. He tossed 5 2/3 frames, allowed seven hits, three runs, two walks, four strikeouts and one home run. Graveman allowed his 4th home run this season. That ended 32 consecutive innings without an earned run from an A’s starting pitcher.
“He was in between what we’ve seen in his best but hung in there,” Melvin said of Graveman’s performance. “Particularly McCann got some good swings off him but he held in there just enough. Talking about three runs which isn’t too bad.”
Heading into the sixth Oakland was down 3-1. Lawrie’s two-run shot tied the game 3-3. Sabathia was sent to the mound in the sixth when he put two on with a single to Phegley to leadoff the inning, and a free pass to Mark Canha. David Carpenter replaced the southpaw loading the bases with a single to Marcus Semien and a walk to Zobrist extending the A’s lead 4-3. Butler’s sacrifice fly made it a 5-3 game before Stephen Vogt popped out to third to end the inning.
“It’s tough. They get the runs early and you want to be able to hold that lead and get the ball to the back of our bullpen,” said Sabathia. “I wasn’t able to do that.”
Oakland’s bullpen got vicious and shutdown New York’s offense. This might’ve been the best we’ve seen, the bullpen retired eight batters through both the seventh and eighth frames. Abad retired Didi Gregorius to end the sixth stranding two and Gardner to leadoff the seventh flying out to left field. While Evan Scribner retired the next five batters, striking out two to end the eighth.
The Yankees tried to rally in the ninth when Tyler Clippard walked Gregorius and gave up a single to Gardner putting two on with two outs. But he forced Chase Headley to fly out to center field to end the game. The A’s snapped a 12-game losing streak in one-run games at home that dated back to September 6, 2014. It was the longest such streak in Athletics history.