Tonight's contest looked very promising from the start. Scott Kazmir's ERA was less than half that of opposing starter CC Sabathia, and the A's had averaged a full run more per game than the Yankees over their past eight contests. And the first three innings went very well for the Green and Gold. The A's jumped out to score two runs in the second inning, thanks to back-to-back RBI singles from Josh Phegley and Mark Canha. Kazmir made his only bad pitch of the night in the bottom half of the second, giving up an unearned run on an RBI double by Didi Gregorius, but was otherwise strong through three innings.
Then, the wheels came right off.
Evan Scribner began to warm up during the top of the fourth inning, and the overreactive #HugWatch was on. Scribbles proceeded to give up a solo blast to Mark Teixeira, the first batter he would face, tying the game for the Yankees. After a walk and a single, Scribner managed to strike out Gregorius, but also allowed Chris Young to steal third base without a throw. That meant Jose Pirela's deep fly ball (on a 1-2 count) would score the run, giving the Yankees the lead.
It didn't help that CC Sabathia decided to settle in. He proceeded to shut down an Athletics offense that, quite honestly, didn't even look like it was trying. The A's smacked five hits in the three innings prior to the Kazmir injury, but only managed two hits in the following five innings. They let a struggling Sabathia off the ropes. CC lowered his ERA from 5.59 to 5.47 with his 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Scribner made it apparent that his early-season success was a fluke, as he gave up another solo home run to Teixeira. Same pitch, same location, same batter, same exact result. He was pulled in favor of Eric O'Flaherty, who threw a sloppy two-thirds of an inning but didn't surrender another run. Edward Mujica replaced O'Flaherty in the seventh, only allowing one baserunner (an intentional walk to Teixeira) in an inning and a third.
In the eighth inning, with one out, Fernando Abad came in to face lefties Gregorius and Stephen Drew. Gregorius looked silly, striking out on three pitches. Drew, however, battled hard. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Abad hung a 67 MPH 3-2 changeup, and Drew didn't miss it, giving the Yankees an extra insurance run with his blast well over the short porch in right field. It didn't seem like it would be significant to the game at the time, but boy, was it ever.
Yankees closer Andrew Miller, activated off the disabled list prior to the game on Wednesday, got his first out on a routine fly ball from Josh Phegley. He allowed a hard single to left field from Mark Canha, however, and Marcus Semien decided after some hard outs earlier that he wouldn't leave it to BABIP this time. He belted a 3-2 four-seamer well over the left field wall for his eighth home run of the season, bringing the score to 5-4. Perhaps the A's could rally back?
Stephen Vogt stepped in. After working a 3-2 count, Vogt bounced a routine grounder right to third baseman Gregorio Petit. Petit, however, rushed his throw, and Vogt ended up at second as the throw skipped past Teixeira and into the Yankee dugout. In stepped Ben Zobrist, with the tying run on second base in the form of pinch runner Sam Fuld. After falling behind 0-2, Zobrist dribbled one to Petit, who redeemed himself by throwing Ben out by less than half of a step. Game over, with a final of 5-4.
This game feels ugly, but really, wasn't too poorly played by the A's. Sure, Scribner was awful, but keep in mind he only entered the game due to Scott Kazmir's injury (diagnosed with left triceps tightness). The A's probably should have won tonight, just as they probably should have won quite a few of their other one-run losses. Jon Heyman, perhaps, said it best...
a's lose another 1-run game. they are not just unluckiest team in baseball history, they are unluckiest in sports history— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 9, 2015
Maybe this luck is bound to turn around some time soon, but sadly, it will probably be too little, too late. For now, take solace in tonight's solid performances by Edward Mujica, Mark Canha, and Marcus Semien, and just try to forget this ugly loss. The A's play the rubbermatch at 10:05 A.M. PST. Jesse Chavez will take the ball against a struggling Masahiro Tanaka. Let's hope for the series win tomorrow. Let's go, A's!