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Yankees 7, Athletics 5: Offensive explosion drives comeback win

Clutch relief pitching bought time for some clutch hits

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are slowly earning a reputation as comeback kids. In their sweep of the Blue Jays earlier this week, they trailed in all three games before clawing out a lead. Today, their starter was dreadful, the long relief man became one of the heroes, and the Yankees tied this series with the Athletics, winning 7-5.

Domingo Germán really didn’t have it today. His June ERA of 6.60 rose to 7.11, as his fastball continued to be hit hard. Although he did strike out six in just four innings of work, his four earned runs are just not good enough for a rotation desperate for a legitimate No. 2 behind Gerrit Cole.

Germán gave up two home runs, the first on one of the absolute worst pitches you’ll ever see a guy throw that Tony Kemp put in the right-field seats. The home run allowed to Matt Chapman was a hanging changeup, but Germán’s fastball was really a problem all day:

Germán threw 17 four-seam fastballs today, and more than a third were right in the middle of the plate. He actually got away with one pitch that was whiffed on, but you just can’t live there with your four-seam, especially when Germán’s best fastball is his sinker anyway. He got five called strikes + whiffs (CSW) on the four-seam, while allowing three hard hit balls on it. It’s just not a winning formula.

Really, the big story on the pitching side was the performance of Nestor Cortes Jr. Germán faced four batters in the fifth, all of whom reached base, with Matt Olson bringing in two runs with a single to push the score to 4-1. Desperate for some kind of salve, manager Aaron Boone called on Cortes, with runners on the corners and nobody out. Oakland was looking to ice the game, and you wouldn’t really be able to fairly blame any reliever for allowing a run or two in that kind of spot.

Instead, Nestor fanned the first two batters he faced, then induced an easy flyout to end the inning. It would take a little longer for the offense to wake up, but those three outs were really the turning point of the game.

Cortes pitched two more clean innings, allowing a walk and single against three strikeouts, recording nine much-needed outs, and giving the offense the time they needed to break out. Gary Sánchez took starter Chris Bassitt way deep in the sixth to cut the lead to just two:

And in the seventh, Clint Frazier led off with a double for the second time in the game. Unlike a similar spot in the fifth inning, the Yankees were actually able to bring him around, with Aaron Judge singling to score the team’s third run of the game. A walk to Gary and Giancarlo Stanton’s own RBI single tied the game.

An inning later:

It’s a good time to remind people that Gio Urshela could have been acquired for $25,000 by any team. He cost less than a bachelor’s degree. But he is a Yankee, and he is very good.

DJ LeMahieu added a clutch two-run single later in the inning to put the Yankees up three — much-needed insurance and a much-needed big hit from the team’s leadoff hitter. Aroldis Chapman did end up recording the save in the ninth, albeit in a fairly dramatic outing that saw at least three blown calls by home-plate umpire Sean Barber, Boone getting ejected for arguing said blown calls, and an RBI single bringing home a runner that should never have been on base in the first place.

In the end though, Chapman struck out Matt Chapman with a 103.4-mph fastball, his fastest pitch since 2018, to end the game. It was the Yankees’ seventh victory of the year when trailing after six innings. They can win this series tomorrow, with the rubber match kicking off at 1:05pm Eastern, and Jordan Montgomery tabbed to start.

Box Score