The best part of this afternoon had nothing to do with the game. It was hearing that Aaron Judge had taken 25 dry swings, plus hit 25 balls off a tee, before first pitch. That’s just about the only good news, though. In a playoff-like atmosphere in the Coliseum by the bay, the Yankees continued their lackluster play, dropping the series opener to the Athletics 6-3.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks. The offense didn’t fare any better, as the Bombers managed only four hits, went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and stranded five men on base.
Things started out on a positive note, as Andrew McCutchen showed precisely why the Yankees traded for him. He led off the game with a groundball single to right field against the shift, stole second, advanced to third when the catcher’s throw sailed into center field, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Hicks. It was a great example of a manufactured run by the Yankees, but unfortunately, their 1-0 lead didn’t last.
The Athletics came back with three runs in the home half on four singles, a bases-loaded walk, and a Miguel Andujar throwing error. Oakland batted around, as CC threw 39 pitches to finally escape the frame.
New York immediately tied it in the second. Athletics starter Trevor Cahill walked Gary Sanchez on four pitches. After Gleyber Torres flew out, Luke Voit clubbed an opposite-field two-run home run. Since being recalled from Triple-A on August 21st, Voit is 15-for-39 (.385) with six homers and 12 runs batted in.
Oakland took a 4-3 lead in the bottom half. Marcus Senien drew a four-pitch walk to lead off, and scored when a Matt Chapman drive got past Hicks and rolled to the left-center field wall. The Yankees caught a break when Brett Gardner backed up him, firing a strike to relay man Adeiny Hechavarria, who threw perfectly to Andujar at third, just nipping Chapman trying to stretch. Chapman’s baserunning blunder ended a potential rally and allowed the Yankees to escape the frame trailing by only one run.
Sabathia’s outing ended in the fourth after he allowed a one-out double to Semien. Aaron Boone went to A.J. Cole, who induced Chapman to pop out, but then gave up a run-scoring single to Jed Lowrie. Cole coughed up a solo shot to Mark Canha in the bottom of the fifth, which gave the Athletics a 6-3 lead.
The Bombers missed a golden opportunity to get back in the game in the seventh. Sanchez struck out swinging to lead off, but took first base on a passed ball. Torres walked, giving the Yankees two on with nobody out. But Voit struck out looking, pinch-hitter Neil Walker fanned on a foul tip, and Gardner hit a flyball to end the potential rally.
It was déjà vu all over again in the eighth (thanks, Yogi). With two outs, Hicks and Andujar drew walks, but Sanchez struck out swinging to waste the opportunity.
Jonathan Loaisiga was impressive in mop-up duty for New York, his first appearance since being activated from the disabled list. He threw two scoreless, one-hit frames, while striking out four batters.
With the win, Oakland climbs to within 3.5 games behind the Yankees for the top Wild Card berth. Boston won today, so the Yankees fall 8.5 off the pace in the AL East race.
Join us tomorrow, when J.A. Happ (15-6, 4.00 ERA) toes the slab as the Yankees look to even the series and snap their losing streak. Oakland has yet to announce a starter. First pitch is set for 10:05 PM EDT.