It only took 18 innings, but the A’s swept the Yankees for the second consecutive time at O.Co Coliseum.
The Yankees took a quick 2-0 lead on Jarrod Parker when Robinson Cano blasted a two-run home run in the top of the first inning. Parker and the rest of the A’s staff would buckle down the rest of the way though on their way to 17 consecutive shutout frames.
Oakland got those runs back in the bottom of the third beginning with a Derek Norris RBI groundout. John Jaso walked and then Seth Smith ripped a double to right field to score Jaso on an extremely close play at home to knot the game at 2-2.
After that third inning … nothing happened. You could have taken a four-hour nap and missed nothing. The A’s eventually loaded the bases in the bottom of the 18th with one out for Nate Freiman, who had to face Mariano Rivera. Freiman punched a soft line drive to left field in front of Vernon Wells, scoring Jaso from third and giving Oakland the victory.
For Freiman it was just his third hit off of right-handed pitching all season, and it just so happened to be against the greatest closer of all-time.
I say you would’ve missed nothing if you missed the middle 15 innings, but we all know that’s not realistic. The A’s bullpen followed up eight strong innings with 10 innings of shutout ball. Grant Balfour pitched a perfect inning. Ryan Cook, Jerry Blevins and Pat Neshek all allowed one hit in one inning of work each. Hideki Okajima got in some trouble in the 13th, putting two runners on while recording just one out before giving way to Jesse Chavez.
The bullpen had a conference today, and Chavez was the keynote speaker.
Chavez picked up the much-deserved win by striking out seven and allowing one hit and two walks over the final 5.2 innings. He was stellar. The much maligned right hander who has bounced between Sacramento and Oakland all season pitched his way into the hearts of A’s fans. He got it done with fastballs, breaking balls and everything in between. He was nothing short of brilliant.
My dad (The Mad Dad?) said something today that summed it up pretty well. “Business as usual.”
Sweeping the Yankees wasn’t special because it was the Yankees. Last season, sweeping New York was an accomplishment. This season, it’s expected. At no point during the game today did I lose confidence that the A’s were going to find a way to win. It’s just what they’ve done and continue to do.
The A’s are a really good team. This isn’t a hot streak anymore. 108-60 since June 13, 2012 is not a hot streak. The A’s haven’t lost any of their last eight series and have won 21 of their last 26 games. They’re also tied for the best record in the American League and have a two-game lead over Texas in the division after being seven games back on May 15.
Bob Melvin’s club issued an emphatic statement by sweeping the Bronx Bombers. Oakland is here. They’ve been here, and they don’t plan on going anywhere.
Oakland welcomes in the Mariners for a weekend set beginning Friday before heading back on the road.
– First of all, hat-tip to commenter Jeff H. who suggested the new name for this section. Stellar.
– Freiman, who had a walk-off hit against Rivera, was eight years old when Rivera made his MLB debut.
– The A’s have won seven in a row at home against the Yankees and won those seven games by a combined 10 runs.
– Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells were a combined 0-for-28 with 12 strikeouts. Put them together with Josh Donaldson, Chris Young, Adam Rosales and Derek Norris and you get a whopping 0-for-49 with 20 strikeouts.
– Adam Rosales didn’t enter the game until the 10th inning and managed to go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.
– John Jaso went 2-for-7 and extended his hitting streak to nine games.
– Both clubs threw 255 pitches. That’s 510 total pitches thrown over 18 innings of play.
– Oakland is now 6-2 in extra-inning games and 14-7 in one-run games.
– Coco Crisp didn’t start as he’s working through a sore heel, but he did play today. He pinch hit in the bottom of the 15th and nearly had the game-winning hit, but Brandon Moss was cut down at home plate by Vernon Wells. Crisp played the rest of the game.
– Yoenis Cespedes didn’t play for the second consecutive day nursing a sore hamstring. The A’s are now 19-31 without Cespedes in the lineup.
– Josh Donaldson left the game after the bottom of the 15th. There was no indication of the extent of the injury, but Jane Lee tweeted out that Donaldson had a cramp in his hamstring and Melvin is hoping Donaldson will be good to go against Seattle on Friday.