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Yankees 9, A’s 5: Do not give free outs to the 2022 Yankees

As Yankees fans, we endorse it! But it was ill-advised for the once-leading A’s.

Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

For a little while there, the A’s had some hope. They led the Yankees, 5-1, and even after giving back a couple, they still carried a two-run advantage into the seventh inning. However, there are very good reasons why New York began Monday with 28 more wins than Oakland, and they emerged in that fateful seventh. A combination of bad pitching, defensive miscues, and key Yankees hits led to a six-run frame as the Bombers came back to beat the A’s, 9-5.

The Yankees were the first to get on the board, and although the man behind their first run wasn’t a surprise in the broader scope of the 2022 season, it had been a minute since he was the driving force of a rally. Anthony Rizzo drew some important walks over the weekend against the Astros, but he still entered play in an 0-for-19 skid. The All-Star candidate got off the schneid with a solo shot.

Rizzo was back on the board, and the dinger was his 20th of the season. It’s the ninth time that he’s reached that plateau in his 12-year career, but he’s never reached it faster than on June 27th (his career-high is 32 homers).

The Yankees had a 1-0 lead, but this was not Jordan Montgomery’s night. The dismantled A’s started play with the worst OPS (.603) and OPS+ (77) in the league, but the lefty sure didn’t pitch them that way in the third. After cruising through the first two innings, Montgomery issued a leadoff walk to Nick Allen, and though he struck out the following two batters, he ran into some bad luck on an infield single by Christian Bethancourt. That might have been fluky, but Ramón Laureano’s second swing sure wasn’t.

Laureano blistered that ball at 108.1 mph. Montgomery needed a simple out of any kind to finish the inning, and he left a sinker in the middle of the zone that hardly moved.

The inexplicable two-out struggles continued when Montgomery turned an 0-2 count on Sean Murphy into a hit by pitch with a 55-foot curveball that bounced up and plunked the A’s catcher. Next up was a changeup down the pipe that even a washed-up Elvis Andrus could smoke.

Sheldon Neuse struck the final blow with a base hit to right to make it 5-1, A’s. Montgomery had allowed the most atrocious offense in baseball to score five runs with two outs. That’s pretty indefensible. At the very least, Montgomery recovered to retire 11 of the next 13 batters (including a Rizzo error) before departing two outs into the seventh. It was a “one bad inning” game for the southpaw, but what a bad inning to have!

Typically, it takes more than one bad inning for the Yankees to lose a game though. It can happen from time to time, but a team like the A’s has to play nearly perfect ball to pull off the upset. That did not happen on Monday night.

Giancarlo Stanton was the first Yankee to cut into Oakland’s lead, as he lined a 409-foot homer off Paul Blackburn. The right-hander is a decent enough pitcher and has a chance to be the A’s lone All-Star representative, but the Yankees made him work. By the end of the fifth, he had allowed a third run on a line drive by Aaron Judge that Andrus couldn’t handle, and with Blackburn’s pitch count at 91, A’s manager Mark Kotsay had to dip into his bullpen.

Reliever Adam Oller didn’t make it easy on himself in the sixth, when he walked a pair of batters and only wiggled out of it when Jose Trevino hit a routine fly and Marwin Gonzalez popped one up. Oller returned for the seventh, and this time around, the A’s gave the Yankees a number of gifts, practically begging them to take the lead already. Seriously, check out this rally for the fourth run:

  • DJ LeMahieu walk
  • Judge reaches on catcher’s interference
  • Pitching change to A.J. Puk
  • Rizzo hit by a pitch to load the bases (he should be fine)
  • Stanton reached on catcher’s interference

That is an awful showing from Murphy behind the plate; he didn’t exactly boost his trade value there. On the bright side, the mistakes allowed PSA’s Matt Ferenchick to post this beautiful, Jacoby Ellsbury-inspired photo:

All jokes aside, the two errors really came back to bite Oakland when Josh Donaldson connected for a two-run double.

That’s a much-needed knock from someone in a funk, as Donaldson had a dismal .565 OPS in his last 10 games, with just one extra-base hit. Puk left without a retiring a batter, and the Yankees tacked on two more runs against Austin Pruitt when the should-be All-Star Trevino cracked an RBI double and Gonzalez scored him on a single.

At that point, the score was 9-5, Yankees, and with these two teams, the last couple frames felt quite perfunctory. Albert Abreu did yeoman’s work in relief of Montgomery, covering the final 2.1 innings without allowing a hit to earn his first win of the season. Someone’s going to be sent down or designated for assignment tomorrow to make room for fill-in starter JP Sears, and it might be Abreu. It could also be the little-used Manny Bañuelos or even Ron Marinaccio, who does have options despite being quite good. I’d take a deep sigh and sadly bid a possible goodbye to Bañuelos, but that’s just me.

The other top pitcher in the A’s rotation gets his crack at the Yankees tomorrow, as Frankie Montas squares off with Sears. First pitch will cross home plate right around 7:05pm ET.

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