The Yankees followed up a string of 20 games in 20 days with 2 scheduled off-days in 5, and kicked off their final short series of series before the All-Star break last night against the Oakland A's. They got whooped pretty bad by the A's the last time they faced them out in Oakland, and they were facing Oakland's best starter last night. While they didn't get peak Sonny Gray, they were unable to take full advantage of that early and coughed the game up late.
It was clear from the first batter of the bottom of the 1st that Gray wasn't his usual sharp self. Brett Gardner singled to lead off and Gray walked Chase Headley on 4 pitches to put the Yankees in business. After 2 outs by A-Rod and Teix, Brian McCann and Garrett Jones came through with back-to-back base hits to give the Yankees a quick 2-1 lead.
That lead could have been more if A-Rod or Teix came through, and it would have been more than a run if Nathan Eovaldi could have had a clean top of the 1st. Oakland got him for a pair of singles in the inning, the second a run-scoring one from Josh Reddick. They picked up 3 more singles to start the top of the 3rd and it was another typical Eovaldi outing.
The Yanks regained the lead in the bottom of the 4th on a walk to McCann, single by Jones, and another single by Didi Gregorius, but other than that and the 1st inning they were never able to do much against a shaky Gray. They went down in order in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, made nothing of a 2-out Chris Young single in the 6th, and wasted an error to put the leadoff runner on in the 7th when Chase Headley lined into an inning-ending double play. The Yanks have been pretty good about taking it to aces this season. Last night it just didn't happen.
Which left the door wide open for the A's to come back and tie the game. They did it in the 6th on a Billy Butler solo home run against, surprisingly enough, Chasen Shreve. Joe went to his bullpen with 1 out in the inning and Reddick coming up for a third time. Guess he had seen something that made him not want to allow Eovaldi to face Reddick again and he went with the L-L matchup. That worked just fine, but then Butler came up next and homered on a first-pitch fastball. The binder giveth and the binder taketh away.
Shreve got out of the inning, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, and Dellin Betances held Oakland scoreless, and thanks to the non-existent offense the game went to extra innings. Brett Lawrie led off the top of the 10th and got a hanging 1-1 curveball from Betances that he drove into the left field seats for the go-ahead home run. Gardner and A-Rod set the stage for another walk-off in the bottom half, but Tyler Clippard got Mark Teixeira to strike out and the A's stole one. The Yankees got multiple 1st inning runs, couldn't tack on, and lost a close game they should have won. Where have I heard that before?
- I actually didn't mind the decision to go to Shreve. Joe had a rested 'pen, he knew he was getting Andrew Miller back today, and he wanted to win the game. Eovaldi has done nothing this season to earn a longer leash in that situation. I would have taken my chances with Shreve against Reddick and Butler over Eovaldi. Not a bad call, just a bad outcome.
- That Shreve was long overdue for, by the way. That was his first home run allowed since May 22nd. And while that's now 2 straight outings in which he's allowed a run, that only put his ERA up to 2.10. I don't think this is a sign of anything more than natural regression.
- As I referenced above, Joe informed the media before the game that the Yankees intend to call both Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller up today. That's all well and good, and both guys' returns will be welcome ones, but if they're serious about contending then they have to either bench or DFA Stephen Drew and call up Rob Refsnyder as well. Drew went 0-3 with a walk and a popout to the catcher in the 10th last night. He sucks and there's less than zero reason for him to be in this or any starting lineup at this point.
- That's 2 straight rough outings and 2 straight appearances in which Betances has allowed a home run. He hadn't given up a single homer this season before July 4th, and his last 2 HR allowed came on July 29th and August 13th of last year.
- Jones was the only Yankee with multiple hits. They drew 5 walks as a team, didn't have a single XBH, and went 3-11 with RISP.
- A-Rod and Mark Teixeira combined to go 0-9 with 5 strikeouts and 7 LOB. If you want the simple explanation for why they didn't win last night, there it is.