This game started off a bit stressful, but I think we all may be getting used to that. Maybe even enjoying the adrenaline rush? Jesse Chavez (who has been far superior than his 1-5 record) started the game in non-Jesse fashion: Giving up hits and a 3-0 count. After getting leadoff hitter Brett Gardner on a slap to center, Jesse then gave up a hit to Chase Headley: Line drive to right. Alex Rodriguez, who was only 3-11 in the series starting this game, picks up his fourth hit on a shot to left. Teixeira, with runners on 1st and 2nd and 14 homeruns and 9 doubles going into this at bat, gets a 3-0 count yet strikes out. Carlos Beltran puts the ball in play to Sogard who throws him out at first. Two Yankee runners stranded, and we breathe!
Burns continues to perform well in the role of leadoff hitter. On the first pitch of the game he chops a base hit high over a reaching Headley's head. Zobrist moves the runner and almost beats out the ball as Teixeira makes a huge diving stop to complete the out 3-1. High shallow popup by Vogt keeps Burns on second, and Billy Butler follows with a liner to center field to leave the first potential run of the game stranded.
In the second, Ramon Flores gets his first big league hit to the opposite field as teammates cheered him on and the Athletics sent the baseball to the Yankee dugout for safekeeping. I love seeing rookies get their first knock. Murphy is Jesse's second strikeout victim, another gorgeous outside pitch. Gregorius hits a liner to center on an elevated pitch and again the Yankees have runners on first and second with one out. Jose Pirela lines a shot to Sogard and Muncy moves quickly back to first to finish the double play put out. Great heads up play by Eric, and Jesse acknowledges this by flashing the nerd power signal to him. And we breathe again!
The bottom of the second starts with Reddick earning a base on balls as Dubs star Klay Thompson enters and sits behind the home dugout, concussion and all. Thanks for coming out, Clay! Helps me feel better after Steph Curry's choice of the Giants game on Friday night! (See CSN's article at http://www.csnbayarea.com/athletics/after-curry-attends-giants-game-klay-sees-coliseum for all a summary of A's reactions.)
After Reddick walks, Lawrie flies out to right, but baby-face Max Muncy tags a breaking ball for a base hit. Now the A's have our own runners on first and second with one out. Semien gets a fielder's choice as Gregorius makes a nice grab and throws Muncy out at second. Runners on the corners, Sogard flies out on a short fly to left center. Now the Yankees fans are breathing. Dang it!
Top of the 3rd and Gardner repeats his first at bat with a shot to center for the first out of the inning. Chase Headley does not repeat his hit, thankfully, and goes down looking on a nice outside pitch that clips the corner. A-Rod follows with a swinging strikeout as Jesse Chavez settles in and begins to look like himself on the hill. Unfortunately the A's don't do much. Burns hits a slow roller to Teixeira who completes the unassisted out followed by a Zobrist chopper to become an easy out for the second time today. Stephen Vogt grounds out to second baseman Pirela.
Teixeira leads off the 4th with a single to right field that carried a bit more than Reddick probably expected, pulling up short when he probably shouldn't have. Carlos Beltran followed with a fielder's choice to Sogard, and Zobrist followed with a nice catch near the line to deny Ramon Flores his second major league hit. Murphy strikes out for the second time, #5 for Chavez who is most definitely settling in at this point. Much different than the first inning where he exited the game smacking himself on the head as if to say, "Figure it out and get these guys!"
Billy Butler leads off the bottom of the 4th by rolling one under the glove of DiDi Gregorius for a base hit. But Butler isn't on first long as Reddick hits a shot to Teixeira who tags Butler. Realistically speaking, Butler couldn't have done much more as he was moving quickly back and tried to avoid the tag. Just falls like that sometimes. Lawrie then becomes the first strikeout victim of Warren.
Gregorius starts the 5th with a fly out to left center as Burns shows off his speed and makes it look easy. (Wait for it, wait for it: Burns will also show off his speed on the base paths in a bit.) Pirela knocks a flair to right to get on base. Gardner hits a shot to Sogard who immediately glove-flips to Semien who throws to first for double play. It's moments like these when it just becomes more puzzling as to why Sogard isn't an everyday starter—or maybe he will be if Zobrist finds his way to the Cubs or some other team. The A's neglect to do much in the bottom of the 5th as Max Muncy flies out to the warning track in right, and Semien flies out to deep center about 10 feet short of the warning track. Sogard then goes down looking on a clear strike on the inside corner. Despite the backward K, I still say he should be the everyday starter!
The pitchers dual continues as Jesse enters the 6th with 84 pitches and only uses two more on Headley who flies out to center. A-Rod, who struck out in the previous at-bat, grounds into a 6-3 out and Teixeira follows by grounding to Sogard on the grass for the 4-3 out. Six pitches. It's a relief that Jesse will make it to the 7th after using up a lot of pitches in the first 2 innings.
Warren starts his 6th at 67 pitches and Burns, in a rare five-pitch at-bat lines into right center. Burns then proceeds to pick up his 8th stolen base of the season on what was probably a failed hit-and-run; Burns watched the ball into the glove while running as is done on a hit and run. But, just to make things exciting, Burns demonstrates his base-stealing prowess by taking third for season-steal #9. Zobrist hits a short fly to right, so Burns is unable to tag and go home. One out and the Stephen Vogt chants begin. He delivers by taking one over the right field wall for a two-run homer to put the A's up 2-0. Butler strikes out swinging on a high, outside pitch and Reddick flies out on the left field line to close the 6th. Athletics 2, Yankees 0.
The 7th begins with Carlos Beltran sending one sky-high and just foul of third base for the out by Lawrie. Lawrie then follows by throwing out the rookie Flores. He is followed by Murphy who rolls one back to Chavez for the 1-3 putout for his second six-pitch inning in a row. The A's don't follow with much more than that as Lawrie strikes out swinging, his second strikeout of the game. Muncy, batting .224, goes 2 for 3 with a hit up the middle only to be put out as Semien hits into a 6-4-3 double play to end the 7th.
Jesse Chavez comes into the 8th and gives up an infield base hit as Gregorius outruns the throw from Parrino, now in for Semien. Reddick makes a nice play near the seats in right field for the first out and holds Gregorius on second with a quick throw in. Chavez then strikes out Gardner, and Headley hits one to Muncy who completes the unassisted out. Jesse leaves the field to a standing ovation as he should! He throws 8 innings of shutout ball giving up 7 hits and no walks while striking out 6 and dropping his ERA to 2.11.
Bottom of the 8th: Esmil Rogers replaces Warren and faces Sogard and fields a tapped ball up the line and tag out Eric. Burns, 2 for 3 today with a .321 average, taps another short flick to center field, frustrating Gardner with a repeat hit in just out of reach. Zobrist sends one between first and second to move the speedy Burns to third base. Sam Fuld comes in to run for Zobrist, and Rogers is pulled and replaced by Jacob Lindgren. Vogt delivers his 5th sacrifice fly of the season to move Burns across the plate. Rogers is then replaced by David Carpenter, the third pitcher of the inning. Carpenter proceeds to get Butler on one pitch as Butler hits into a 4-3 putout. But, A's get the insurance run. A's 3. Yankees 0.
Tyler Clippard comes in to close out the game. After four solid pitches fouled off by A-Rod, Clippard gives up the hit to right center field "Billy Burns" style. Teixeira then pops up to center for out number one. Clippard walks Beltran, the first walk of the game, and is visibly upset with himself. Clippard then faces McCann who is pinch hitting for Flores. Here we go again? One out, runners on first and second, and Clippard strikes out McCann on a nice changeup. He then gets pinch-hitter Garrett Jones to pop-up to Muncy at first. And we breathe again! Phew.
The difficulty of this game is trying to figure out what the difference maker was: Hitting or pitching. That Yankee lineup is thick with fearless hitters, so I'd have to give the nod to pitching. Once Jesse settled in, he controlled that game—something he is accustomed to, I know. A well-earned off day by all, though. Go A's!