Oakland, CA – Sonny Gray was a gem on the mound and got the help he needed for the 6-2 victory over the Yankees. The A’s scored four runs in the third to back their ace while Brett Lawrie secured the win when he homered in the eighth. It was the first time at home this season that Oakland recorded back-to-back wins in a series.
Gray missed one pitch when he gave up a leadoff walk to Brett Gardner in the first. He settled in to strike out Chase Headley while the defense turned a double play on Alex Rodriguez to end the inning.
Gray looked sharp tossing four scoreless innings. But the A’s offense couldn’t capitalize off Chris Capuano’s mistakes in the second when he loaded the bases with two walks and a single. Mark Canha flew out to left field to end the frame stranding three.
“With Sonny on the other side, you knew runs were going to be at a premium,” Capuano said. “He pitched great.”
“In a season that’s been kind of tough to get wins, he gives you a chance every time he’s on the mound,” catcher Josh Phegley said.
Oakland got another opportunity in the third, Billy Burns led off with a double and Marcus Semien followed with a single. Ben Zobrist grounded a single past third baseman, Headley for the error and scored in Burns making it a 2-0 game.
Billy Butler followed with a double to drive in Semien while Stephen Vogt cleared the bases with a two-run double extending the A’s lead 4-0. They scored four runs off Capuano who composed himself to retire the next three batters to end the inning.
“It’s just a play that I feel like I have to make,” said Headley. “You’ve got to make that play. Cap made a big pitch right there, I catch that and turn a double play, we may be out of there with one run. Obviously disappointing and another play that I probably should have made.”
Capuano shut down Oakland’s offense after they took an early lead in the third. He tossed 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and struck out four. New York tried to chip away at the A’s lead. Didi Gregorius led off the sixth with a double and Gardner scored him in when he grounded out to end the inning.
By the fifth Gray fell victim to Brian McCann’s whose solo shot made him the first Yankee to homer in four straight games while playing catcher since Mike Stanley from July 20-25, 1993. He’s the first catcher in the Majors with a streak as long as this season.
“I’m making small adjustments here and there,” McCann said. “Honestly, I feel like I’ve been swinging the bat well all year. Now I’m kind of getting more lift in my swing and the balls are leaving the ballpark.”
The A’s got the insurance run they need when Lawrie’s two-run homer extended their lead 6-2 in the eighth. Vogt led off the frame with a walk and Lawrie followed with his second home run in the series. Oakland’s offensive struggles seem to be further and further behind them. Especially their challenges against left-handed pitchers. Tonight they took advantage of Capuano.
They have won five of the last seven games after losing fourteen of the previous sixteen contests. The A’s starting pitchers are 4-1 with a 1.00 ERA over the last seven games. They’re now up 2-0 in a four-game series.
“Sonny’s just so special, and what he did tonight was very impressive and exactly what we needed to continue on this path,” said Vogt. “We’ve been playing such good baseball, and to have a start like that from your ace is huge.”