The A's made their sole trip to the Bronx of the 2016 regular season and, for the 2nd time in as many away series this year, came out with a three game sweep.
The finale of the sweep was a game that you happily buy tickets to see: a bushel of K's by your starting pitcher, a plethora of dingers by your starting lineup. Games like this will surely raise the A's 2016 attendance if they become habit.
The game started with a Billy Burns base hit, as he continued to slap hit the Yankees pitching staff to death, however, despite his 4th stolen base of the year, he did not score, due in part to a fantastic Jacoby Ellsbury catch of a Mark Canha line drive.
Rich Hill's left arm reminds me of the X-Men character Cyclops' eyes. If the freak weapon is controlled it is an amazing dominant force, but "lose the glasses" so to speak, and it just sprays wildly in uncontrollable directions. The 2016 Athletics need Hill to bring the Cyclops Glasses every game. In inning 1, Hill had it lasering beautifully, as he smoothly struck out the side as the Yankees were baffled.
Not much transpired until the bottom of the 2nd, when "Wild Hill" walked the first two pinstripers, then deflected a comebacker that led to a Jed Lowrie awkward decision but nice play to get the out at 1st - he could have gone to 2nd for an easier out - which resulted in runners at 2nd and 3rd. A bloop hit by the deeply slumping Aaron Hicks opened the scoring at 1-0 Yankees. Hill then put the glasses back on and K'd the next two Yankees to end the 1st and 3rd threat and minimize the damage.
The A's evened things at 1-1 in the 4th on a double by Josh Reddick and an RBI single by Lowrie. Before the Yankees took back the lead in the bottom half due to a Wild Hill walk of A-Rod and a Hill throwing error that allowed A-Rod to get to 3rd base. The 2nd run was unearned.
At this juncture of the game, the story reverted to Athletics long balls. Down 2-1 in the 5th, forgotten man Mark Canha stepped to the plate and drove a pitch from right handed starter Luis Severino over the right field wall to even the score (video here). This was Canha's 2nd bomb of the season, both going opposite way.
Hill continued through the 6th with just the two runs and zoned in enough to compile a very impressive 10 K's. Hill left with a final line of 6 IP, 2 runs (1 earned), 3 hits, 10 K, 4 BB. Despite some of the wildness, the A's will take this sort of start from Hill EVERY TIME. Hill earned the official win due to the following fulfilling developments.
Fulfilling dinger time came in the top of the 7th as slumping new acquisition Khris Davis finally krushed his 1st home run of the season off Yankees left handed reliever Chasen Shreve (video here) on the first pitch of the inning over the center field wall. This HR took a weight off Davis' shoulders and initiated a collective cry of joy from the Athletics fan base. The very next pitch, elder statesman Coco Crisp DEMOLISHED a ball to the 2nd deck of of the left field bleachers (vid) for his 2nd HR of the year. These two runs would prove to be the difference in the game as the Yankees scored a single run off reliever Fernando Rodriguez in the bottom of the 7th.
It was all for naught for the Yankees, however, as the A's added two runs on a Chris Coghlan two run high shot over the short right field wall (his 2nd of the year), which drove in Stephen Vogt after a four pitch walk (vid), and made the game 6-3. The A's tacked on an additional run in the 9th on a Canha sacrifice fly.
After John Axford had worked 1.1 scoreless innings, Liam Hendriks pitched just a third of an inning in the 9th before giving up two hits and yielding to co-closer Ryan Madson. Madson laid the final two Yankees to bed and put the nail in the game and in the series sweep, as he earned the save - his 6th of the season and the 8th for the A's bullpen as a whole.
The win was the Athletics' 5th straight victory and took the team two games above .500 - a feat the franchise never accomplished in 2015 - at a record of 9-7, good for 2nd place in the AL West, one game behind the Texas Rangers. The A's head to Toronto this weekend for a three game set with the Blue Jays, who are led by former Athletic and 2015 MVP Josh Donaldson. As the team battles to exorcise the demons of 2015, they strive to take another step in that direction in the coming series. They will be doing so without their own 3B (and former Blue Jay) Danny Valencia, as he was placed on the 15 day DL.
The sweep represented the Athletics' first three game road sweep of the Yankees since June 9-11, 2006. As the late, great Prince would jubilantly sing, "let's go crazy!"