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Game #128: Yankees Swept Away at the Coliseum

MLB: New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

To the uninformed viewer, it was another ho-hum win for the Oakland Athletics on Thursday night – the third straight in which they grabbed a lead early, added to it as the game went on, and quickly quelled any late-inning rallies by the opposition. The A’s looked as dominant Thursday as they did in the series’ previous two contests, prevailing 5-3; and it takes some context to understand the magnitude of what Oakland accomplished by sweeping the New York Yankees.

The Yankees still have the best record in the American League, even after the three-game slide. The last time they were swept in a series of three games or more was all the way back in the second week of April. Additionally, New York rolled into Oakland red hot, with a sizzling August record of 15-4. Just taking the first two games of the series was a tremendous feat for the A’s, but they entered Thursday’s game looking to do what has been nearly impossible this season.

Early Offense…Again

Masahiro Tanaka took the mound for New York. Tanaka was maybe the most troubling match-up for the A’s in the series. Much of Oakland’s lineup prefers to face lefties like J.A. Happ; the Yankees’ other starter in the series was Domingo Germán, who has struggled mightily since the All-Star Break. Tanaka is a seasoned right-hander who has been a cornerstone of the Yankees’ rotation for years now.

Nevertheless, the A’s ambushed Tanaka early, as they did to both Happ and Germán. Marcus Semien led off the bottom of the 1st with a double and Tanaka made things worse for himself by allowing back-to-back walk to Robbie Grossman and Matt Chapman. After a fielder’s choice, a wild pitch, and a two-run single by Mark Canha, Oakland led 3-0.

Golden Oly

The Yankees looked to respond in the top of the 2nd inning, and Gary Sánchez led off with a single. When Brett Gardner followed that up with a ground ball, however, Matt Olson showed why he’s a gold glover. Olson snagged the grounder heading to his left, stepped on first base, and slung an off-balance, side-arm throw over to Marcus Semien who tagged a surprised Sánchez to complete the double play.

Rock-Solid Roark

There is a perfect word to describe the A’s starting pitching of late – solid. Nobody in the rotation dazzles with their stuff, but they have all been successful recently at avoiding the crooked number and getting semi-deep into games. Thursday, it was Tanner Roark’s turn to take the mound again. Roark threw 6 1/3, allowing just two runs. He struck out seven and walked none.

Never in Doubt

The A’s put a couple more runs on the board in the bottom of the 3rd. Grossman tripled, then scored on a Chapman single. Stephen Piscotty later hustled out a ground ball, beating the double play and allowing Chapman to score. The A’s led 5-1 after three.

The Yankees never really threatened after that, although Gleyber Torres gave the A’s fits. Torres singled, doubled, and homered off Roark. Jake Diekman and Lou Trivino were lucky enough to avoid facing Torres in their combined inning and 2/3, but when Torres came up in the 9th against Joakim Soria, he launched his second long ball of the night.

Trivino was impressive again, pitching a scoreless and hitless inning. Trivino has now thrown five consecutive scoreless innings – he has struck out five and allowed just one hit over that span. While Oakland fans are desperate for Khris Davis to get going, the resurgence of Lou Trivino may be even more important for the A’s right now.

Wild Card Watch

If the season ended tonight, your Oakland A’s would be in the Wild Card game. With a Cleveland loss tonight, the A’s and Rays are now tied for the two Wild Card spots, while the Tribe has fallen a half game behind. A’s fans will be rooting for a couple of cellar dwellers this weekend as Tampa Bay takes on Baltimore and Cleveland squares off against Kansas City.