The Yankees continued their reset series against the MLB-worst Oakland A’s with another dominant win, scoring in bunches once again. They benefitted from some Oakland follies, sure, but Gleyber Torres and Jake Bauers showed some renewed pop while Clarke Schmidt went six innings for the first time in his career. Those are positives that are hard to ignore, no matter the opponent.
Despite a nine-pitch inning in the first, Schmidt did run into trouble right away in the next frame. He walked leadoff hitter JJ Bleday on four pitches, missing the target by a considerable margin each time, and then gave up a single to backstop Shea Langeliers. He threw two more balls to the next batter, Tony Kemp, before refocusing to catch him looking at three strikes in a row and then to get a Jordan Diaz grounder that nearly resulted in a double play. Alas, it was hit too slowly, and Diaz beat it out. It was the beginning of a big night for the 22-year-old rookie.
Jace Peterson then drove Bleday home with a broken-bat looper into right. That’s baseball; sometimes mis-hits lead to better outcomes.
An almost-double-play nearly doomed Schmidt again in the third; Brent Rooker grounded one hard to Oswaldo Cabrera at the hot corner, who shoveled it to Torres. But Torres lost the handle on the transfer, his second time doing so in recent days. Bleday then doubled, and Schmidt was lucky to get out of the inning on a called third strike with a hanging sweeper. Schmidt struggled with his command all night, even if his walk numbers don’t reflect that, though to his credit, he battled through six innings.
Fortunately for the Yankees, their starter wasn’t the only one who struggled with command, nor were their fielders the only ones who couldn’t glove the ball cleanly. Drew Rucinski started the bottom of the third by throwing eight straight balls to the Yankees’ eight and nine hitters, Jose Trevino and Aaron Hicks. Anthony Volpe, who’s been slumping as of late, hit a deep fly that almost busted that funk but instead just moved Trevino to third.
The dam broke minutes after that though. A’s third baseman Jace Peterson, ironically one of their few established veterans, couldn’t come up with a pretty routine grounder by the returning Aaron Judge, scoring Trevino.
Things unraveled from there, as three straight singles from Anthony Rizzo, Torres, and Harrison Bader scored Hicks, Judge, and Rizzo, respectively. After Jake Bauers brought home Torres with a sac fly and Cabrera grounded out, the inning was over, but only after nine Yankees had come to bat, plating five.
The one negative from that barrage was that Hicks had to leave the game with hip tightness after hustling home with a run. He was replaced by Isiah Kiner-Falefa and will be reevaluated tomorrow.
The run support seemed to lock Schmidt in though, as he faced just one over the minimum thereafter and made it through six innings. At the same time, one of the two batters he didn’t retire, Diaz, homered when Schmidt gifted him a sweeper that leaked inside over the plate on 1-2. The young second baseman crushed it, 105.2 mph off the bat, for his second career homer.
And then, just a few innings later, Diaz hit another dinger off of a misplaced breaking ball, this one courtesy of Albert Abreu. Add Diaz’s name to the list of interesting A’s hitters.
But interesting doesn’t always mean effective, and the Yankees continued piling on in the fifth inning. Rizzo, Torres, and Bader put up three consecutive hits again and this time, Torres’ was a homer, his second consecutive game with one after launching just a pair in his previous 30 contests:
The second baseman could be returning to form after his hot start seemingly fizzled out. Either way, his long ball made the score 7-2 Yanks.
The second Diaz dinger brought the score to 7-3 in the top of the seventh, and between Abreu and Wandy Peralta, a pair of walks gave Oakland a chance with runners on first and second but two down. On what was an exceedingly strange play, a grounder towards Torres hit off of umpire Laz Diaz; apparently in these situations, the play is ruled dead and the hitter is awarded a single. Whether Torres would have come up with the ball remains to be seen — it had an expected batting average of .580 but the Yankees’ second baseman was well positioned since he was holding the runner. It was all for naught, though, as a slow Jesús Aguilar chopper ended the threat.
The Yankees negated the second Diaz homer in the next half-inning. After another questionable A’s play on a grounder, this one ruled a single for Bader, Bauers went yard for his second Yankees’ homer. The Yankees hope to catch lightning in a bottle with the former top prospect, who was tearing it up in Triple-A prior to his call-up thanks to a perspective change. In this one, he gave the Yankees a pair of insurance runs, bringing the score to 9-3:
Believe it or not, that’s when Diaz went yard again. This one, off the recently-recalled Greg Weissert, came on a sweeper. “You think Diaz will see any sliders tomorrow?” YES’s Michael Kay remarked.
Langeliers came around to score on the blast, bringing the A’s back to within four.
At this point, the crowd was roaring with every ball hit to the outfield. The most significant of these ended up being a Volpe triple, breaking his 0-for-17 slump. The rookie then scored on a Judge missile of a sac fly, running the tally to 10-5.
All umpire dead-ball strangeness and Jordan Diaz breakouts aside, this was another solid win for the Yankees. Say what you will about the A’s, but good teams still need to win against bad teams and the Rays did more than their share of that early on.
To seal the deal on the series, the Yankees will take on the A’s one more time, with an early start tomorrow at 12:35 pm EDT. Another struggling youngster in Jhony Brito, whose 6.08 ERA is a staff-worst, will look to right the ship just as Schmidt did tonight; he’ll face off against the lead name in the Sean Murphy trade, Kyle Muller, who brings his own ERA over six into the contest.