Even with the Yankees flying higher than they have in any season since 1998, the average pessimistic fan could be forgiven for their uneasy thoughts about the scheduled matchup on Tuesday night. New York would be starting a pitcher in JP Sears who’s spent most of his time in the minor leagues, and they would have to handle Oakland’s Frankie Montas — perhaps the lone All-Star on the A’s roster.
Although Montas outpitched Sears by some measures, the Yankees were able to scratch out two runs early and held on during a ninth-inning rally off of Clay Holmes for the 2-1 win. Also, a play concerning Sean Murphy and catcher’s interference played an outsized role again. Baseball!
The Yankees didn’t wait to get on the board today. DJ LeMahieu led off with a walk, though Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo both struck out looking (Judge, on yet another low pitch that should have been a ball). Josh Donaldson picked them up with a double, with LeMahieu moving to third. Five-hole hitter Jose Trevino followed with a single to right, scoring DJ. Donaldson oddly tried to score too on what was not a deep ball and was out by a mile, ending the inning.
Challenging Ramón Laureano’s arm with a slow runner in Donaldson is just not a wise move.
After a clean first two innings from Sears, Hicks began the bottom half with a walk, though he was erased by a nicely turned double-play ball off the bat of Isiah Kiner-Falefa. That meant the bases were empty when Marwin Gonzalez launched a long home run to right to make it 2-0.
The A’s got their first hit in the third on a Sheldon Neuse infield single, but Trevino snap threw to Rizzo to pick him off on a close play:
Trevino simply continues to make a tremendous All-Star case. Get your votes in if you haven’t already!
Montas secured his first scoreless inning in the third, striking out Judge and Rizzo swinging. He and Sears kept trading scoreless and quick innings through the fourth and the fifth. The Yankees’ southpaw was helped by Trevino throwing out Christian Bethancourt trying to steal second to end the fourth.
Again, I’m thinking Trevino should probably be an All-Star?
The Yankees put a runner in scoring position with one out in the bottom of the fifth after an IKF single and stolen base, but Joey Gallo struck out on a ball way outside — shocker — and LeMahieu lined out to keep the Yankees at two runs.
Sears got two outs in the sixth — one being a nice diving catch from Donaldson in foul territory — before he allowed a booming double to Nick Allen and was replaced by Ron Marinaccio, who closed the frame with a strikeout of Laureano. Sears was great, with 5.2 scoreless innings, three hits allowed, one walk, and one strikeout. He has yet to allow a run across 12.2 innings in his short MLB career.
With his pitch count nearing 100, Montas was still allowed to pitch the sixth, and he quickly dispatched the Yankees, including his third strikeout of Judge.
Wandy Peralta entered for the Yankees in the top of the seventh. He walked Bethancourt to start, hardly what you want to see in a close game. Murphy lined out to Gonzalez, and Peralta was able to strike out Stephen Piscotty. That brought Michael King into the game, and the right-hander promptly struck out a befuddled Elvis Andrus to end the inning.
Montas was pulled to start the seventh. His line wasn’t bad at all — six innings pitched, four hits, two earned runs, two walks, and seven strikeouts. He’d get charged with a hard-luck loss, which is nothing new for him on this last-place team.
King got into a bit of trouble in eighth. He struck out pinch-hitter Tony Kemp to start, and then walked Neuse. Seth Brown, pinch-hitting for Cristian Pache, reached on an infield hit to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in Allen. Fortunately, he bounced a double play ball to LeMahieu, keeping the A’s off the board.
The A’s turned to Sam Selman in the bottom of the eighth, when we saw our first fireworks in a few innings — but not with the bats. Gonzalez hit an infield single, followed by another Gallo strikeout and a LeMahieu lineout. With Judge at bat, home-plate umpire Stu Scheurwater called yet another obvious ball a strike. Manager Aaron Boone, who the YES Network cameras had caught yelling at Scheurwater numerous times, got even angrier, and was tossed from the game, earning a big cheer from the crowd.
Judge flew out to shallow right to end the inning, but at least the ejection was fun.
With the save situation in place, Clay Holmes entered in the ninth and did Clay Holmes things to start it off, getting two strikeouts. It looked like he got Murphy to ground out to end the game and “New York, New York” even started playing over the Yankee Stadium speakers. But in a turn of fortune from yesterday, his bat clipped Trevino’s glove and he was awarded first base on catcher’s interference.
Murphy stole second base, and then pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt kept the game alive with a broken-bat single into right field. Andrus laced a hard single into center field, cutting the New York lead to 2-1. With a runner on second (amusingly, former Yankees minor league pitcher James Kaprielian) and things suddenly stressful, the unperturbed Holmes induced a groundout from Tony Kemp, finally ending the game and securing yet another series win for New York.
The Yankees are now 55-20, good for a .733 winning percentage and 35 games over .500 for the first time in 2022. They’ll go for a clean sweep of the A’s tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 ET, with Jameson Taillon facing Cole Irvin.