I was asked the other day if I would rather have a team with a lights-out pitching staff, yet couldn’t score, or a team that could score at will, but couldn’t pitch.
I used to think nothing was more important than pitching, and I still agree somewhat, but after living through a few too many 1-0 losses, especially in the playoffs, there is something to be said for a team that can score at will. Don’t get me wrong; neither of the teams described above will likely have more than a .500 season, but I know which one is more fun (and hopeful) to watch.
Right now, that description fits the A’s, as a battle-worn Kendall “I pitched better than my line will show if you hide the unearned runs” Graveman started the game against the A’s former ace, Sonny Gray. Neither is having a great season, and after the stifling week the A’s just endured, it makes sense their batters were itching to get out there and hit. Even if the game is in mystical Yankee Stadium.
This was a weird awesome game. On one hand, the A’s should have scored 10 runs against Sonny Gray alone, but instead, they settled for 10 against the Yankees’ pitching staff as a whole, which is obviously awesome; they hit four home runs; Davis, Chapman, Lowrie and Joyce; one shy of a Matt Trick (Olson did have a double and just missed his own home run in the eighth). Dustin Fowler also recorded his first Major League hit, in poetic symmetry, against the pitcher for whom he was traded.
Meanwhile, on the pitching side, I literally feel that every recapper types this: Kendall Graveman pitched better than his line will show. And it’s true, it is. Kendall Graveman pitched well for most of the innings, but when things fell apart, they sure fell apart in a fiery blast. But assuming the error by Semien stands, Graveman will end his line with 6 innings pitched, three hits and one earned run. It shouldn’t be discounted; however, that he did give up two home runs (and one wildly irritating walk before one of them).
The hero of the game (besides the offense as a whole) was Yusmeiro Petit, who stopped the inevitable Yankees’ rally and made two huge outs to end the seventh inning with the A’s lead intact, and Graveman’s eventual win preserved.
The A’s scored early and often in this one; Khris Davis started the scoring with a second-inning home run. It was followed by a Matt Olson single and a Matt Chapman two-run home run.
Back-to-back-to-back singles by Semien, Joyce and Lowrie brought in the A’s fourth run and leading 4-0, everyone was happy. No, that’s not true. It’s the third inning, In Yankee Stadium with Graveman on the mound. It might as well have been 1-0.
Gleyber “Not your average nine hitter” Torres knocked a solo home run for the first Yankees run in the bottom of the third, but the A’s got it right back in the fourth with a lead-off double from Canha, a single by Fowler (happiness ensues!), and a Semien ground out; the first of his four RBI.
The fifth inning was the “Oh, Graveman!” special. Semien was awarded an error as the batter leading off reached, but it could have gone either way; the ball was in the hole and it was going to take a pretty good play to get the runner anyway. Graveman got a strike out for the first out of the inning, and then he dealt a ball that should have ended the inning in a comebacker double-play, but he stopped the ball, fumbled the ball and threw wildly to first; luckily for him Olson was able to pull it down for the single out, but Graveman missed the chance to end the inning.
I said, “That’s going to haunt him.”
To be fair, it was probably the walk to Brett Gardner in front of Aaron Judge that would. As you can surmise, Judge hit the ball out and all of a sudden, the A’s were clinging to a 5-4 lead.
Chapman made a nice play in the sixth inning as Graveman breezed through his last, and knowing that the A’s would need the runs, Jed “MVP” Lowrie hit a home run to get a run back.
Leading 6-4, the A’s entered the bottom of the seventh, which turned out to be the swing inning of the night. Ryan Dull took the mound and, well, wasn’t sharp. He allowed two hits and a sacrifice bunt (thanks, New York!) for the first out. Lou Trivino took over at this point and walked the bases loaded. And then walked in a run, cutting the A’s lead to 6-5. Melvin, wasted no time and replaced Trivino with Yusmeiro Petit immediately. He got a medium-deep fly ball to Canha, who readied himself for the play, set up his throw, and prepared to throw the runner out at the plate. The runner bluffed but didn’t run. And then, he finished the job; getting Giancarlo Stanton to pop up to Jed Lowrie, who made a nifty catch running into the outfield.
Yet again, the A’s offense extended the lead; Matt Joyce’s home run tipped the score to 7-5, giving Petit breathing room for his next two outs; Blake Treinen would record the last out of the eighth.
The A’s started the ninth inning with the best thing ever; they loaded the bases without the ball ever leaving infield, courtesy of a Chapman walk, a Lucroy sacrifice bunt, a Canha walk, and a Fowler fielder’s choice, as Canha hustled so hard to second base that he got in safely before the throw.
And then Marcus Semien put the game away, stroking a double down the line, clearing the bases. And in another heart-warming moment, watching Fowler sprint first to home as if he had never been injured. It was a magical night for him and his family, for sure.
Treinen slammed the door on the Yankees in the ninth and just like that, the A’s are back to .500, take the first game of the series from the Yankees, and start our weekend off right.
Meanwhile, baseballgirl and Friday night game threads have a three-game winning streak. Join us tomorrow for the breakfast special; 10:00AM, Triggs vs. German.