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Game #42: A's Drop Series Opener 4-1 to the Yankees

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RF Josh Reddick fractured his thumb in the opener of the four game home series and Oakland's offense failed to materialize against the Yankees.

Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics' win streak came to a screeching halt at 4 games as the A's fell to the Yankees 4-1 and, worse yet, starting RF and 3-batter Josh Reddick fractured his thumb in the loss.  The loss dropped the A's to 19-23 on the season as starting pitcher Kendall Graveman dropped to 1-6, despite yielding just two runs in 5.2 innings.

After getting a leadoff base hit in the 7th inning with the A's down 2-1, Reddick stole 2nd against Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances.  On the play, Reddick slid head first and awkwardly collided with the foot/leg of Yankees 2B Starlin Castro.  Reddick would leave the game after the half inning and manager Bob Melvin announced that Reddick fractured his left thumb on the play and will be placed on the DL, likely to miss 4-6 weeks.

Aside from the troubling injury, the Athletics' bats were quiet against Ivan Nova and the Big 3 Yankees bullpen of Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.

Both teams generally pounded the ball into the ground through the night, with shortstops Marcus Semien, of the green and gold, and the pinstripers' Didi Gregorius getting plenty of work, as starters Graveman and Nova did an admirable job of getting sink on the ball and inducing ground balls at key times.  The A's grounded into double plays in the 4th (Khris Davis) and the 5th (Yonder Alonso) to end potential rally innings and generally looked befuddled by Nova's sinking action aside from Reddick's 4th inning solo HR (his 5th of the year).  The solo blast would be the sole Athletics run of the night and the A's managed just 6 hits with zero free passes issued by the Yankees pitchers.

Graveman yielded the first run of the game in the top of the 3rd after walking Brett Gardner, in what looked like a tight zone by the umpire, and then allowing a slap opposite field ground ball double to Carlos Beltran that plated Gardner for the lead.  A Reddick error on a fairly routine fly ball by Brian McCann with two outs should have resulted in an additional run, but Beltran made a baserunning blunder and was stuck at 3rd.  A Danny Valencia snare of a hard line shot by Castro kept the damage to just a single run.

While Graveman settled in and looked strong through 5 innings, a messy 6th left the A's down 2-1.  The inning included Chase Headley leading off with a single and then being picked off by a fantastic Graveman move, followed by a Dustin Ackley single and a Gregorius single where the Yankees' SS ran into the 2nd out of the inning trying to take 2nd.  After taking the throw from Reddick, Valencia whipped the ball to Semien for the putout at 2nd.  Despite yielding back-to-back-to-back base hits, Graveman remained in the game, much to the chagrin of certain A's fans, and gave up an RBI double to Aaron Hicks to break the 1-1 tie.  Graveman then yielded to Marc Rzepczynski - leaving with a line of 5.2 IP, 8 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 3 BB, and 5 K's - and Scrabble got the final out of the inning.

The A's would remain quiet and Nova was pulled after 6 strong, despite throwing just 62 pitches, as Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided he did not want to chance it.  He decided his three headed bullpen monster would finish it out, despite all three having pitched the night before in Arizona.  This decision could bode well for the A's in Friday night's contest, but it all but shut the door on the meek A's bats in this one.

Scrabble and John Axford pitched clean 7th and 8th innings before Beltran added a two-run blast in the top of the 9th off Fernando Rodriguez, which resulted in plenty of insurance for Yankees controversial flame-throwing closer Chapman, who recently returned to the field after a 30 game suspension handed down by the MLB offices due to a domestic violence incident.  Chapman yielded a leadoff single to Coco Crisp, but proceeded to close the door on the next three batters and that was all she wrote.

The A's loss was meek, but the real blow of the day was the estimated 4-6 week loss of critical cog in the field and lineup in Reddick.  This injury adds to a laundry list of ailments for the 2016 club and will further test the resolve of the team and the maneuverability of the organization.  The injury also comes at a very bad time in Reddick's career, as it muddies a contract year for the skilled two-way pro.

The A's will look to even the series tomorrow behind the recently-scuffling Sonny Gray, as they will face off with Bay Area native (Vallejo) C.C. Sabathia in a fireworks night.

The question at this point becomes how to the A's rebound from the latest adversity on their MLB roster.