With one out in the top of the sixth, Donaldson hit what should have been a routine ground out to short. Nunez fielded the ball, spun around awkwardly and flung the ball well past Swisher, allowing the runner to advance to second. Pennington connected with a RBI single, and the A’s had the lead once again. The Yankees had a few chances to get the run back, having two runners on in the bottom of the sixth, and with Martin taking a leadoff walk in the eighth. A-Rod just missed a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth, as the ball was just short of the wall in right. Cano struck out to end the game, with the A’s taking the 5-4 win and the Yankees streak ending at seven games. Luckily, the Orioles fell to the Red Sox, keeping New York in first in the AL East.
I generally try to shy away from complaining about umpires. After a couple decades of playing competitive sports I have always felt that, while bad officiating can be incredibly frustrating and can no doubt have an impact on the game, it is usually on the players to make the plays, coaches to make strategic decisions, etc. I tend to find people who constantly complain about officiating to be tiresome. As an athlete you know you need to adjust to your officials, whether it is a wide strike zone or making sure you don’t lose your focus due to a missed call. Today’s technology may be capable of minimizing these officiating mistakes, but at this point it isn’t being used so to act like it is would be fruitless.
That said, the umpires in this game did a pretty awful job. The strike zone was bizarre, whether it was A-Rod getting called out at a strike in mid-shin or Swisher watching a pitch completely avoid home plate and getting sent back to the bench. Did these plays (and others) impact the game? Absolutely, especially the call at first that resulted in an early 3-0 lead for the A’s. Were the umpires at fault for the Yankees losing? Nope, Kuroda was not at his best and struggled early on, their defense (Nunez, I’m looking at you) was sloppy and they failed to capitalize on various opportunities throughout the game.
Eduardo Nunez: Nunez may have been yesterday’s hero, but that will quickly be forgotten after his miserable performance today. He had two errors, one leading to a crucial run for Oakland. He also went 0-4 at the plate, stranding three runners, striking out once and picking up one RBI.
Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod almost came away as the hero when he almost got a ball into the short porch. Instead he went 0-5 with three Ks and a pair of runners left on base.
Hiroki Kuroda: The Yankees’ starter went just 5.2 innings and gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits, three walks and five Ks. He struggled to get strikes with his splitter and while he made some adjustments, it wasn’t enough to get him deep into the game.
Nick Swisher: Swish went 2-3 with a run scored, two RBIs, a walk and a homer.
Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter: Both went 2-4, with Ibanez driving in a RBI and a double. Jeter drew a walk and gave the Yankees chances out of the leadoff spot, but they couldn’t seem to bring him home.
The Bullpen: Clay Rapada, David Phelps, Boone Logan and Cody Eppley combined to give the Yankees 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball. Phelps gave up one walk and one hit in his inning of work, while Logan struck out two in his 1.1 innings.