The Yankees have amassed wins against teams above .500 consistently throughout this season, but the only such team that they’ve played and not beaten yet is the Oakland Athletics. That streak began with a sweep out West a week ago, and continued Friday night at the Stadium.
CC Sabathia got the ball to start, and nearly everyone hoped he could give the Yankees length in the outing. Sabathia hadn’t gotten through five innings of work since the middle of July against the Rays, and he didn’t get the opportunity to do so on Friday. The Athletics challenged him early, working a one-out walk and taking a hit-by-pitch to move the runner into scoring position. Sabathia fought back, getting a 6-4-3 double play ball to escape the inning, but couldn’t avoid Jurickson Profar’s bat in the second. Profar deposited Sabathia’s first pitch to him into left field for a solo home run, and the A’s were on the board.
Sabathia retired the Athletics in order in the third, and had only thrown 48 pitches to that point, so he was looking in good shape to go somewhat deep in the game. Unfortunately, his knee started barking and his night was over. Sabathia was officially diagnosed with right knee discomfort, and for the moment the Yankees don’t have any tests planned for the veteran lefty.
The Yankees were briefly able to rally for their starter, even temporarily grabbing the lead. The Bombers loaded the bases in the bottom of the third thanks to singles from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge along with a walk from Gleyber Torres. Didi Gregorius hit a groundout that brought a run in to tie the game, but the Yankees couldn’t do any more with the chance. New York loaded the bases again in the fourth, thanks to an overturned out call on a fielder’s choice. Again however, the best the Yankees could do was hit a groundball and bring home one run, this time on a double-play ball off of Mike Tauchman’s bat.
Meanwhile, the Yankees had to work around the sudden removal of their starting pitcher. Luis Cessa got the call to pitch beginning in the fourth, and managed two clean innings. Tommy Kahnle took over for the sixth, but he immediately got into trouble. Matt Olson greeted Kahnle with a single to left, and then Kahnle drilled Mark Canha. Seth Brown pinch hit for Chad Pinder, and lined a double past Brett Gardner in center to score one. Profar followed up with another double two batters later to give the Athletics the lead for good.
Cory Gearrin didn’t have much better luck in the seventh. Matt Chapman slapped an infield single to get on with one out, and stole second. Canha drove him home on a two-out triple, and Brown punched a single to right to score Canha. Just like that, a 2-1 lead became a 6-2 deficit, and the Yankee offense didn’t have a spark left in them.
The A’s tagged on two more runs in the ninth off of Nestor Cortes, Jr. Marcus Semien led off the inning with a home run, and an Olson double and Brown single brought home the final run. The Yankees, 0-for-13 since Tauchman’s double-play ball that scored their second run, had to get something off of Blake Treinen in the ninth to stay alive. That didn’t happen as Treinen struck out Luke Voit and Gardner, and Profar robbed Austin Romine of a base hit to end the game.
The Yankees didn’t get off to the start they wanted in this series, but they’ll hope to recover with Domingo German on the mound on Saturday. The Yankees’ streak of 19 unbeaten home series hangs in the balance, but we’ll have more on that tomorrow.