I really love games where the Yankees seemingly snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and this was a classic example. Even though they were no-hit until the sixth inning, and somehow held the lead until then, a clutch home run and clutch relief performances put the Yankees over the top. It was close, but it feels good.
In the very first inning, the Yankees put two runners on through a Gary Sanchez walk and a Matt Holliday hit by pitch, and a wild pitch moved them both over to set up a Starlin Castro sac fly.
The next bout of scoring came in the sixth. The Athletics tied the game on nothing more than a hit than themselves: a Khris Davis walk and a Ryon Healy double to even the score at one.
But in the bottom of the sixth, the tide turned. Cotton was eclipsing 100 pitches, and his command was clearly starting to falter. And it showed. He walked Sanchez once again, and set up Matt Holliday for a very important moment, a two-run blast to break the tie.
CC Sabathia did get into the seventh, but not much further. He allowed a no-doubt dinger to Josh Phegley to bring the lead to just one run, and then he allowed a double to Adam Rosales, which knocked him out of the game. Even though you could tell he was frustrated to be removed with a job unfinished, he had a nice afternoon for himself: six and one-third innings, with just two earned runs and nine strikeouts. I would take that every single day of the week.
In the eighth, the Athletics almost overcame the deficit. With Tyler Clippard taking over the eighth inning role, he struggled. He struck out Jed Lowrie (which he argued to the point of being tossed), but then followed the same sequence as Sabathia: he walked Davis, and allowed a double to Healy to put runners on second and third.
Joe Girardi made the smart decision to bring in Dellin Betances to put out the fire, and he struck out Trevor Plouffe and Chad Pinder to end the threat. To put this in context, our own Joshua Diemert made a great point: before Betances the Yankees’ win expectancy was 53%, and 86% after the inning. Then, Betances retired the Athletics in order in the ninth, to record the five-out save.
So, the series is tied! The Yankees will play another afternoon game tomorrow, as Michael Pineda will take on Andrew Triggs at 1 PM EST at Yankee Stadium to decide the series winner. You can watch the game on YES or MLB.tv.