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Game #71: Kap and Kemp lead A’s to victory in Yankee Stadium

Solid pitching and timely use of the short RF porch

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees
353 feet of pure muscle
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees drafted James Kaprielian in 2015, but in the summer of 2017 they traded him to the Oakland A’s amid a long injury recovery. Four years later, they paid for that decision.

Kaprielian pitched into the 6th inning and earned the victory in the A’s 5-3 win over the Yankees on Friday, in the classic tale of a former prospect beating the team that dealt him away. The right-hander got some help from his lineup, who slugged a pair of homers in support.

*** Click here to revisit tonight’s Game Thread! ***

Oakland staked their rookie starter to an early 2-0 lead, and he was nearly perfect the first time through the Yankees lineup. But he walked the No. 9 batter, and two pitches later he made a mistake to D.J. LeMahieu for a homer to tie it. Kaprielian settled down from there and retired nine of his next 11 batters, making one more mistake for a solo homer but otherwise keeping New York from doing anything at all.

  • Kaprielian: 5⅔ ip, 3 runs, 7 Ks, 1 BB, 2 HR, 3 hits, 80 pitches, 96.6 mph EV

As is becoming customary, he got quite a wide strike zone, which helped him rack up called strikes and a couple backward Ks. There was a lot of hard contact, but other than the two dingers it was all squarely on the ground toward gloves or popped uselessly in the air.

Meanwhile, the A’s offense had gotten to work early against the Yankees pitching. The third batter of the game was Matt Olson, and he went deep to right. How amazing has Olson been this year? This afternoon before the game I wrote an article about how he’s taken a huge step forward at the plate, and 60 seconds after it published he’d homered again.

Oakland picked up another run in the 3rd inning, thanks to a sharply hit double by the hot Elvis Andrus and an RBI single from the steady hand of Mark Canha.

New York tied it up in the bottom of the 3rd on LeMahieu’s long ball, and then a solo homer in the 5th by Rougned Odor briefly gave them a lead, but it only lasted a few minutes.

To this point in the game, Yankee Stadium had done its best to favor the home team. Aside from Olson’s 393-foot dinger, Oakland had lofted flyouts of 407 feet, 390 feet, and 381 feet, but they were all to the wrong parts of the park and landed in gloves. LeMahieu’s homer had only traveled 377 toward the park’s notoriously short RF porch. That’s the way it goes sometimes, but in this case it evened itself out by the end of the night.

In the top of the 6th, the A’s first two batters were retired, but then they scratched out a couple singles to get a rally going. Up stepped Tony Kemp, and he continued his ridiculous breakout season by lining the ball 353 feet to RF and into the second row of seats.

That’s his third homer of the year, and this one took the club from trailing by one to leading by two. Neither team scored again for the rest of the evening.

Oakland threatened again in the top of the 7th but struck out thrice in a row, but that’s more than the Yankees managed. Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman, and Lou Trivino combined to retire nine of the 11 batters they faced, including one at the end of the 6th inning for Petit, and a double play to end the game for Trivino.

Kempin’ ain’t easy

But somebody’s gotta do it. Tony continues to make a huge impact on the 2021 team, Kaprielian conquers another infamously tough venue after also winning a game at Fenway Park and holding his own at Coors Field, and Olson slugs on. The A’s keep rolling in June, now 13-2 since the month began.