Chapman’s Two “First Hits” Help A’s to 7-6 Comebacker Over Yankees

June 16, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics’ Matt Chapman swings for an RBI ground out off New York Yankees’ Luis Severino in the second inning of a baseball game Friday, June 16, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

OAKLAND–Oakland A’s fans were very excited when the team’s no.4 overall prospect, Matt Chapman, was called up Wednesday to play third base. Friday night against the Yankees, Chapman gave a glimpse of the future, making his “second” first career hit a game-winner in the bottom of the eighth inning of the 7-6 win. It was the A’s second consecutive time taking the lead in the eighth inning or later to open the four-game series against the Yankees.

“The kid is here for a reason,” said A’s Manager Bob Melvin. “He’s a tough kid. He wants to play, he likes to play. He’s not afraid of those situations.”

Chapman took a Jonathan Holder offering with the bases loaded, one out and the A’s trailing 6-5, skidding a ball down the third base line to plate the tying and go-ahead runs in a second consecutive back-and-forth game between Oakland and New York. Before that, he’d “singled” in a run on a slow roller to third, but after Yankees manager Joe Girardi challenged the call, Chapman had to settle for just his first RBI after being called out by a step.

“I guess having your first hit taken away from you means you’re just waiting for something sweeter,” said Chapman.

After a second inning rally, Oakland looked to be in total control, but a New York comeback forced some dramatics from the rookie at the hot corner. The A’s had Yankees starter Luis Severino on the ropes early with a four-run second inning, but the Yankees rallied back over the next three innings to tie the game, then took the lead in the sixth on a Chris Carter solo homer Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player front-runner Aaron Judge hit his league-leading 23rd homerun and knocked in three runs for the Pin Stripes. Stephen Vogt, Jaycob Brugman and Chad Pinder collected RBI basehits. Sean Manaea pitched sixth innings, striking out seven Yankees but the two homers had him departing the game in line for the loss. It wasn’t until the New York bullpen entered the game that the A’s did their damage.

Chad Pinder picked up a sacrifice fly off reliever Chasen Shreive to plate Rajai Davis in the bottom of the 7th inning, pulling the A’s within one and giving the Oakland shortstop his second RBI on the night. An inning later, the A’s rallied off Jonathan Holder (1-1, 3.49 ERA)  for two runs in the eighth after loading the bases with one out on singles by Ryon Healy, Yonder Alonso and an intentional walk to Stephen Vogt. Chapman’s two-run double handed Daniel Coulombe (1-1, 1.99) his first win of the season. Santiago Casilla worked around a one-out walk, punching out three Yankees for his 11th save.

New York found itself in a 4-0 hole after the second inning, but used a two-out rally in the top of the third to take a heavy dent out of the Oakland lead. With Mason Williams and Rob Refsnyder on base, Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s ideal hitter, Judge, came to the plate. The slugger capable of turning a game instantly on the back of his 96 MPH average exit velocity on contact did just that in remarkable fashion.

The native of Linden, Calif., far outside of Stockton, Judge enjoyed his return to Northern California but displaying his light-tower power. Judge took a Manaea offering to the opposite field in right field, deep into the bleachers for his 50th, 51st and 52nd RBIs, good for second in the American League and a 4-3 deficit. An RBI single by Williams off Manaea two innings later would tie the game.

“All the sudden a 4-0 game is a 4-3 game on one pitch,” said Melvin. “[Manaea] didn’t have his best fastball command today. He used his other pitches effectively and kept it simple.”

Carter tagged Manaea for the then potential game-winning shot to open the sixth on a 1-0 count. The lefty hurler grooved a change-up low and outside that the Bronx bomber crushed halfway up Mount Davis for his eighth homer of the season. Carter also struck out three times to fulfill his “Three True Outcomes” designation.

New York scored its sixth unanswered run in the seventh after Judge tripled off Josh Smith with one out. Smith walked designated hitter Matt Holliday then yielded a single to Thursday’s goat Starlin Castro for a 6-4 New York lead.

Severino took the no-decision, but he was nearly knocked out of the game in the second inning. Back-to-back walks to Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso put runners on first and second with no outs. Ryon Healy struck out, but catcher Stephen Vogt knocked in a run on a double. Chapman squibbed his grounder to third that scored Alonso that was a hit nullified by replay.

“I don’t get replay anymore,” said Melvin. “It looked like it should have been the other way for us. Don’t get me started on replay. It was announced as a hit, then replay, as it has done all year to us, took a hit away from us.”

After back-to-back-to back singles and a 4-0 A’s lead, the Yankees trainer and Girardi came out to check on the starter. He remained in the game, retired Jed Lowrie to end the inning and wound up with six innings of work on the day.

The Yankees send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound looking for the same success but a different result from his last outing against Oakland. The former Ace struck out a career-best 13 batters in the Bronx May 23rd, but gave up a single run in what wound up being a 4-1 loss. The A’s hand Jesse Hahn the ball Saturday looking for an improvement on his last outing. The righty went five innings, allowing three runs in a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay in his second start since returning from injury June 6th.



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