Tonight's game took a while to get going, both in terms of the on-field action and the game itself. After a 72-minute rain delay, the Yankees got on the board in as lackluster a way as possible — Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury managed singles, and then Mark Teixeira hit a pop-up that fell perfectly into no-man's land down the line in shallow right field. Alberto Callaspo couldn't get to it, Craig Gentry couldn't get to it, and the Yankees led 1-0. That lead that would hold until the 5th inning, as both starters — the Athletics' Scott Kazmir and New York's Hiroki Kuroda — cruised through the game's first half, Kazmir settling down especially nicely after his rocky start.
So fast-forward to the 5th inning, where Moss got a break on a very close 2-2 pitch from Kuroda. With the way he's playing right now, he's not a guy who can throw four strikes to and live to tell the tale. Lo and behold, Moss belted Kuroda's 3-2 offering deep to right-center field, tying the game at 1 and giving him his 14th home run of the game.
Yankee Stadium is, of course, the perfect ballpark for any left-handed power hitter. The notoriously short porch in right field, coupled with a pitching staff of hard-throwing right-handers, makes this place perfect for guys like Moss to tee off, something he's done throughout his career. Moss is now 8-for-18 lifetime in the Bronx, owner of an absolutely insane slash line: .444/.524/1.00.
All was quiet until the bottom of the 6th, when Mark Teixeira pulled a 1-0 two-seamer from Kazmir over the fence and into the bullpen in left field, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Kazmir got out of the inning without further damage and pitched into the 7th, putting runners on first and second and striking out Brendan Ryan before giving way to Fernando Abad, who got two quick outs to end the inning.
Kazmir's outing was fantastic, all in all, as he continues what looks to be a career year. He made a mistake on the Teixeira homer, but there wasn't much he could have done on his pop-up in the 1st. He ended up allowing six hits and two earned runs, walking two batters in the process, over 6.1 innings, and his ERA this season sits at 2.40. Kazmir struck out 10 on the evening, including five of the first six outs he recorded — that number is a season-high for him. Take Teixeira out of the equation and Kazmir was dominant; even with Teixeira, he was very, very good.
Trailing by a run in the 8th with two out and Alberto Callaspo on first base, Bob Melvin asked for a little help from his bench, enlisting Stephen Vogt to pinch-hit for Craig Gentry. Vogt didn't disappoint, belting the full-count offering from Dellin Betances to the alley in right-center, bringing Callaspo around to score and leaving the game tied at 2. It was a gutsy move from Melvin, especially with Josh Reddick on the disabled list — it mean that either Vogt or Kyle Blanks, neither of whom has much experience in the outfield, would have to finish out the game in right field. Blanks stayed in without incident, not that Melvin needed any vindication for the decision as it was.
Vogt's story is the latest in a series of remarkable rises on the Athletics' roster. Forget Josh Donaldson or Sean Doolittle — here's a guy who's toiled away in the minors for the better part of a decade. He finally sees some success in a two-month stint with the A's last season, highlighted by a walk-off hit in a critical playoff game, and then he doesn't even make the Opening Day roster the next season. Vogt was simply a victim of circumstance, but it's still incredible to see him get back to Oakland at a moment's notice and, in his second game back with the club, come up with the hit that kept the A's in the game and led to the extra-inning win.
Back to that extra-inning win — Abad walked Jacoby Ellsbury on four pitches to begin the bottom of the 8th, and Bob Melvin had seen enough. Gregerson did a phenomenal job of keeping him on first base during Teixeira's at-bat, varying his cadence pitch to pitch, both preventing Ellsbury from getting any sort of read on his motion. Teixeira struck out looking on a 3-2 fastball right down the middle, but Ellsbury ended up swiping second on the first pitch to Yangervis Solarte, and moving to third on a Solarte groundout. But Gregerson got an old A's nemesis, Ichiro Suzuki, to softly fly out to Cespedes in left field. Preventing inherited runners from scoring certainly hasn't been Gregerson's strong suit this year, but he got the job done tonight.
Things almost got away from Dan Otero and the A's in the bottom of the 9th, when Brian McCann put the potential winning run on base with a one-out single. But Donaldon made a heads-up play to nab the slow-moving McCann at second base and Jed Lowrie climbed the ladder on a scorching liner from Brett Gardner. If McCann were a faster runner, Donaldson would've likely taken the easy out at first base, and that Gardner liner could easily have been a walk-off hit. But the cards fell the right way, and the game went to extras.
With Yankees reliever Adam Warren on to pitch the 10th, Bob Melvin had exactly the matchup he wanted: Brandon Moss against a righty in a game where one swing could change the outcome. Moss worked the count full first, but did take that swing. His first home run was a line drive that just cleared the fence in right field, but this one was an absolute no-doubter, a blast high up into the second deck in the right field corner that gave the A's a 3-2 lead, their first of the evening.
But Oakland wasn't done. A walk from Cespedes, a double from Lowrie, and a single from Kyle Blanks padded the Athletics' lead, pushing it to 5-2. It could have been more, too, had Donaldson not flied out to center field with the bases load for the third out.
Sean Doolittle closed out the bottom of the 10th, giving the A's a win to start a three-city, nine-game road trip, and to push Oakland's record to 36-22.
Tomorrow's game is (gasp) on ESPN, another 4:05pm Pacific start.