No, it's not a cruel joke; the A's played like a real baseball team tonight as they stormed into New York and beat the Yankees in a low-scoring, tight seesaw battle, emerging victorious after ten innings of work. The A's overcame a Semien error, an All-Star Sonny Gray that hasn't pitched in 12 days, two walks by their closer and three runs by the Yankees to stay in the game long enough to untie the score in extra innings and take the win to the bank. The pitching combination of Gray and Clippard got the job done, but it was Drew Pomeranz who really shined in this one, pitching two perfect innings to get the game into extra innings. Backed by RBI singles by Reddick and All-Star Stephen Vogt and home runs by Butler and Lawrie, the A's held on to win 4-3. It was glorious. It was magical. It is a win to open a series in New York and we'll take it.
Sonny Gray's line ended up at seven innings pitched, six hits, three runs, three walks, and five strikeouts. The guy was in the hospital all week; I'll take it. I'll take that line most days, and it's only because we have a great starting pitching staff that we're used to seeing the low numbers. But oh, don't I wish Pomeranz was available out of the bullpen to start the year. He's been great.
Both teams scored right out of the gate tonight as Vogt singled with one out and was moved to second on a ground out, just in time to score on Reddick's two-out single to give the A's the early 1-0 lead. Not to be outdone, the Yankees took advantage of Gray's long hiatus, starting their inning with a single and a walk. After a fly out by Rodriguez and a strikeout by Teixeira, two soft singles brought in the Yankees first two runs, and gave them the 2-1 lead.
The A's tied the game in the third on three straight singles by Semien, Burns and Vogt, but a strikeout by Zobrist and a double-play by Reddick ended any further damage. The Yankees would retake the lead in the fourth as they started the inning with a walk and a single. Despite getting the nifty double-play, Gray allowed another soft single to score the Yankees third run.
But once again, the A's came back; this time on a bomb by Billy Butler, in the best swing I may have seen from him, at least in the last few weeks, tying the game in the sixth. The bullpens held steady for three innings and the game went quietly into extra innings. Where Brett Lawrie, on an 0-2 pitch, mind you, sent the ball into the New York crowd and gave the A's a 4-3 lead.
Despite two walks and a 3-0 count to Mark Teixeira, Clippard came back with a called strike, a foul ball, and a swinging strike to dramatically end the game, preserve the win, and earn the save
Now, you might ask, despite an even 7.0 innings pitched by Gray, 2.0 innings pitched by Pomeranz, and 1.0 innings pitched by Clippard, Fernando Rodriguez appears in the box score with no innings pitched, but a strike out was recorded. That's because of the baseball rule that would make me stabby as a pitcher: The run-to-first-base-on-a -third-strike even though the pitch was so bad it fooled both the batter and the catcher and it should be a strikeout for the poor pitcher who actually got the batter out on a swing at a wild pitch but was punished for it because now there is a runner on base even though he did his job. Or alternately, the one where Rodriguez struck out Rodriguez to open the eighth and still left the game with a runner on first.
This was a real team effort by the A's tonight, and a really fabulous win. The A's will try to repeat this performance tomorrow. Same time, same place. The ball will go to Scott Kazmir, who will face off against CC Sabathia. We'll see you right here with all the action.