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Game #73: A’s fall just short in 2-1 loss to Yankees

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An eminently winnable game, just out of reach

Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees
If only Yankee Stadium had real MLB dimensions
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Argh.

The Oakland A’s had every chance to win on Sunday in the Bronx, but fell just short over and over in a 2-1 defeat by the New York Yankees. All the ingredients were there but nothing came at the right moment, and the green-and-gold leaves town with a frustrating series loss despite playing well all weekend.

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

For the third day in a row, the A’s homered in the 1st inning. This time it was Matt Olson again, same as he’d done Friday in the series opener. There was nobody on base, but it was still an early lead.

Unfortunately, that was the only run they scored all afternoon. For the next eight innings they got chance after chance, and slugged several flies to the warning track, but just couldn’t quite scratch anybody else across the plate.

In the 3rd inning they put two runners on base and Olson hit it deep again, but it was caught on the warning track in front of the short RF porch, so close that the fielder was touching the wall with his hand when the ball landed in his glove.

In the 6th, they got a leadoff walk and then Matt Chapman smoked a drive 411 feet to CF. That ball is a homer in most parks and Statcast says it lands for a hit 77% of the time, but in Yankee Stadium’s absurd dimensions it’s a flyout, because it’s a mini-golf park not a serious MLB stadium. Then Oakland got a second runner on base, but a pair of groundouts squandered the opportunity.

In the 7th they got a one-out walk, but a groundout and a strikeout stranded it. The A’s have been good lately about not striking out as much in key spots, but that doesn’t mean it’ll never happen, and it happened a lot this weekend. Props to most of New York’s bullpen for being absolute nails in high-leverage.

In the 8th, Chapman was denied again. His blast to LF hit off the upper-half of the wall, and instead of a game-tying homer it was a triple. With one out on the board, Olson only needed another flyout but instead he struck out, and then Ramon Laureano flew out to the track in LF. There are so many ways this inning could have yielded a run — Chapman’s fly goes another two feet for a dinger, Olson makes contact like he’s been doing all year, Laureano’s drive comes with only one out for a sac fly, or it find a gap for a hit. But the result was another zero.

In the 9th, New York closer Aroldis Chapman walked the first two batters on nine pitches, then threw Ball 1 to Sean Murphy. Oakland had another prime chance, if they could just make a bit of contact. Murphy did hit the ball, but it was a routine grounder directly at the third baseman positioned near the bag. He touched third and then whipped the ball around the horn for a 5-4-3 triple play. Are. You. Kidding. Me.

Is there anything more Yankee Privilege than having your $16 million closer throw two strikes out of 11 pitches but still get out of it because the perfect grounder was plopped into their laps? The answer to that question is yes, because this was their third triple play of the season. Thank goodness they’re finally getting some breaks though, about time something went the Yankees’ way.

Oh, and the only other time in all of franchise history that the A’s have ever hit into a game-ending triple play? It was back in 1903 against the New York Highlanders, who later became the Yankees, reports official scorer David Feldman.

Manaealator

For a while it seemed like the A’s might actually make their one early run hold up, because Sean Manaea was untouchable.

Through the first five innings, he scattered two hits while striking out 10 of the 18 batters he faced. But in the 6th he gave the Yankees an opening with a pair of walks, and one swing of the bat was all it took to flip the script for the rest of the day. Gary Sanchez lined one into a gap for extra bases, and both runners scored. Oakland hit six balls farther than Sanchez’s today, and four of them found gloves, but New York’s solitary good piece of contact earned two runs.

  • Manaea: 5⅔ ip, 2 runs, 11 Ks, 2 BB, 3 hits, 98 pitches, 92.9 mph EV

Those are the first runs Manaea has ever allowed at Yankee Stadium, in his third career start there. He induced 24 swings and misses, representing one-quarter of his pitches. But today it equaled a tough-luck loss.

It’s only the third time an Oakland pitcher has fanned at least 11 batters in an appearance of fewer than six innings, reports official scorer David Feldman. The others are Tim Hudson in his 1999 MLB debut, and Kirk Saarloos in 2006.

The lefty departed midway through the 6th, and the bullpen held serve the rest of the way. Sergio Romo retired five straight batters, and Cam Bedrosian got three more, combining for four strikeouts between them and buying the lineup time for a comeback that never quite materialized.

Argh.

Chin up

You can be as bummed as you choose to about these last two losses.

Yesterday they rallied for a run in the 9th inning, but they were down by three at the time; move that clutch late RBI single to today and maybe you come through for the win in extras. Today the middle relievers were perfect with a one-run deficit, which would have been really useful yesterday when they were blowing a two-run lead into the stratosphere. The lineup pounded the ball the whole time, even when it didn’t lead to runs, and the starting pitching was excellent in every way except longevity, which has normally been their MLB-leading strong suit this year.

What else can you do? If this is what an Oakland loss looks like, then sign me up because it’s going to continue being a rare exception to the winning rule.

The A’s played a better game today, but the ball broke New York’s way more often than not, and the Yankees also made all the plays they needed to earn it. Both teams were good enough to win, but only one was rewarded.