After Saturday’s comeback win over the Athletics, it looked like the Yankees had run out of magic after seven sleepy innings on Sunday. Things changed in a big way in the final two frames though, as the Yankees scratched and clawed their way to a second straight walk-off win over the A’s.
Before the Yankees could make the comeback and turn in one of the most memorable finishes of the year, the first six innings were quite bland. J.A. Happ and Sean Manaea, two soft-tossing lefties, traded zeroes while perennially generating soft contact to quash rallies. After six innings, the teams had combined for just three hits and no runs.
Believe it or not, Happ was a huge reason the Yankees won the game. He got a few whiffs on his fastball, and although he walked four batters, he only allowed one hit and didn’t allow a run over six innings. Happ used his changeup, a pitch he only threw 16 percent of the time coming into today, to retire seven hitters. Don’t look now, but Happ has only allowed three runs over his last 11 innings and could potentially provide value down the stretch.
Coming off of a game where Aaron Boone had used his bullpen very heavily, he understandably tried to stay away from his tired arms and trusted Ryan Dull in a tie game in the seventh inning. That strategy backfired terribly when Dull walked two and gave up three runs on two hits, putting the Yankees in a 3-0 hole. Chance Adams came in for the eighth and put the club further behind, giving up a solo shot and making it 4-0 Athletics while the Yankees still only had two hits of their own.
The more that A’s manager Bob Melvin had to count on his bullpen, however, the more it continued to let him down. Gleyber Torres hit a sac fly in the eighth inning to get the Yankees on the board, and then Didi Gregorius punched a single right up the middle under Marcus Semien’s glove to make it a one-run ballgame. Luke Voit then struck out, leaving it up to the bullpen to hold the deficit and the bottom of the order to score in the ninth inning.
Luckily, the Yankees got both. Adam Ottavino pitched a clean ninth inning, and the Yankees did not mess around in their last licks. Liam Hendriks, who had come in during the eighth, came back out for the ninth and left a fastball down the middle for Brett Gardner, who smoked it into the right field seats and tied the game. After that blast with no outs, there was no doubt that the Yankees were winning this game.
Fortunately, it didn’t take much longer to finish the job. Mike Ford, who came in to pinch-hit for Clint Frazier, crushed a 3-2 fastball deep to right, giving the Yankees their second straight walk-off win over the A’s. It was Ford’s 10th home run of the year, and his first as a pinch-hitter. The back-to-back jacks gave the Yankees a rare series victory over the A’s, who have become a pesky opponent for the Bombers.
This was the last time the Yankees will have to see the A’s this season (barring the postseason), and hopefully it really is the last time this year. The Yankees will wrap up their homestand with three games against the Texas Rangers starting Monday – it’ll be Masahiro Tanaka vs. Mike Minor in the first game.