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Yankees 7, Athletics 6: Yanks blow lead but rally late for 12th straight win

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The Yankees overcame a rough start by Jameson Taillon to start the West Coast swing with a victory.

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Make it 12 in a row for the 2021 New York Yankees! The remarkable winning streak is the team’s longest in 60 years, dating back to the legendary 1961 squad of Mantle and Maris.

All history set aside though, this was an incredibly frustrating game to recap (to watch, for that matter) considering that the Yankees had a commanding 6-0 lead early and looked like they would win a rare laugher in Oakland. We should have known better. As Hawkeye said in Avengers: Endgame, “Don’t do that. Don’t give me hope.” Jameson Taillon had a rare clunker of a start and the Yankees’ bats went to sleep after an early outburst until they scratched out the winning run. Aroldis Chapman shut the door this time to secure the 7-6 victory.

This one did not start in promising fashion. Former Yankees first-round pick James Kaprielian came out on a mission, striking out DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo in rapid succession, and then “struck Aaron Judge out looking.” That’s in quotes because the called third strike was so far off the plate that the call was a complete disgrace.

Not a great sign.

More of the same in the second as home plate umpire Todd Tichenor rang up Joey Gallo on a curveball that was wildly outside. Yankees manager Aaron Boone was rightfully apoplectic, so he lost his cool and was rewarded with an ejection.

Thankfully, Giancarlo Stanton decided that the Yankees had seen enough and with two strikes, didn’t give Tichenor a chance to ring him up on a ball a foot off the plate. Giancarlo absolutely demolished a solo dinger, 116.2 mph off the bat and 436 feet to dead-center, putting the Yankees up early.

After a Gary Sánchez strikeout, Brett Gardner decided to host a Gardy Party. Sitting 3-1, the old man turned on a fastball from Kaprielian and deposited it in the right-field seats; 2-0 good guys.

The Yankees seemingly broke the game open in the third. Andrew Velazquez led off by crushing a hanging curveball into the right-field corner for a double. After LeMahieu moved Velazquez to third, Anthony Rizzo broke an 0-for-17 slide when he drove a ball to left field that Josh Harrison was unable to catch, allowing Rizzo to pick up the ribbie double to run the score up to 3-0, Bombers.

The Yankees kept making Kaprielian work. Judge walked, and then Joey Gallo worked a long at-bat, fouling off full-count pitches until he got something to hit… deep to right-center. A three-run homerun – his fourth off Kaprielian, which is insane considering he only has nine at-bats against the hurler – and the Yanks had an early 6-0 lead:

A typically majestic Gallo dinger, the moonshot left his bat at a 39-degree angle and traveled 419 feet.

Home run derby in Oakland continued in the bottom of the inning, unfortunately. Matt Chapman turned on a 3-2 fastball from Taillon and blasted it into the left-field seats. Even worse, Jamo promptly missed with another fastball to Sean Murphy and 6-0 lead turned into 6-2 lead in the blink of an eye. On the positive side, Taillon buckled down and escaped without any further damage.

Taillon’s struggles with location continued in the fourth. First, he walked Matt Olson. Then, after recording the first out of the inning, Taillon hung a curve that Harrison smoked to left to put runners on first and second. A walk to Mitch Moreland later and the bases were full of Athletics.

Taillon recorded a dubious hat trick, walking Matt Chapman to force in a run with his third free pass of the inning. Unbelievably, given how the game started, the Athletics now had the go-ahead run at the plate. Taillon got a huge second out when he struck out Murphy swinging with high cheese. On 0-2 to Elvis Andrus, though, Taillon left a fastball middle-middle.

Frankly, he was lucky that all the aging Andrus did was hit a two-run single to make it 6-5. Taillon hit the showers, and Albert Abreu came out of the bullpen for the Yanks to face Mark Canha. Thankfully, Abreu induced a groundout to finally put an end to an infuriating half-inning that the Yankees were lucky to escape with the lead.

Because nothing is ever easy in Oakland, even when the A’s are mired in a terrible rut, Harrison obliterated a high cement mixer of a slider from Abreu in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game. Three long balls by each teams, and the Yankees had officially blown a 6-0 lead.

Meanwhile, since the Gallo bomb what seemed like 84 years earlier, the Yankees’ offense went almost completely silent. The odd runner reached base but as the Athletics erased their six-run deficit, the Bombers’ bats failed to put any runs on the board. Given the combination of the late hour on the East Coast and the underwhelming display of the past several innings, the signs seemed to point toward the end of the Yankees’ winning streak.

Clay Holmes, the third Yankees pitcher of the night, came into the game in the sixth to relieve Abreu and did yeoman’s work. Jonathan Loáisiga continued the parade of Yankee relivers in the seventh, and took care of the next six outs for New York. The 26-year-old righty continues to be the bullpen MVP.

Finally, with two outs in the ninth, the Yankees retook the lead. After Rizzo walked, Tyler Wade pinch-ran and broke for second on a 1-1 count to Judge. The throw sailed into center field, allowing him to scamper to third.

On the very next pitch, Judge inside-outed a ball to shallow right field, scoring Wade and putting the good guys back on top:

The Yankees had both Aroldis Chapman and Chad Green warming in the eighth, but they continued to show faith in their embattled closer. Chapman came out for the save with the slimmest of leads to protect. He induced a harmless fly ball to center from Andrus for the first out. Then he struck out Canha for the second out. An infield single from Starling Marte kept the game alive for the A’s and brought the winning run to the plate. But Chapman buckled down and got a weak groundout from Matt Olson to seal the win.

Interestingly, Chapman abandoned his slider tonight, throwing nothing but fastballs other than the splitter that whiffed Canha. Considering his notable struggles with the fastball, his pitch selection is worth tracking as we move forward.

Stressful? Yes. But at the end of the night, the Yankees have won 12 straight and just did some damage to the A’s playoff hopes. New York held onto its three-game lead over Boston (who beat Minnesota), expanded the advantage on Oakland to 5.5 games, and even gained half a game on idle Tampa Bay. The AL East crown is a target worth pursuing, and the Yankees trail the Rays by four games.

Tune in tomorrow night to see if the Bombers can tie the ‘61 club to make it 13 in a row as they send Gerrit Cole to the hill against Sean Manaea. First pitch is at 9:40 ET.

Box Score