By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Oakland Athletics reached out to their Triple-A affiliate for a starting pitcher to face the New York Yankees on Saturday. Jharel Cotton – who was sent down to Nashville after starting seven games (3-4) for the A’s – was back in a big league uniform for game two of the three game series in New York.
The Athletics M.A.S.H. unit is back in action as injuries are taking their toll on the major league roster. Kendall Graveman was unable to make his scheduled start on Friday night due to shoulder soreness. The projection is that he will be going to the disabled list.
Pitcher Jesse Hahn was moved to the 10-day disabled list after a triceps injury that occurred during his start last Tuesday. A MRI has ruled out any physical damage, but the team wants Hahn to rest his arm because he has dealt with this problem before in his career. The Hahn move made room for Cotton on the 25-man roster.
Cotton got off to a shaky start
Cotton issued a one-out walk to Gary Sanchez in the bottom of the first inning. He then hit Matt Holliday with a pitch. With Starlin Castro at bat, Cotton threw a wild pitch that allowed Sanchez to go to third and Holliday to second base. Castro hit a sacrifice fly to right field on the 2-1 pitch that brought Sanchez home and moved Holliday up to third.
Cotton induced Aaron Judge to fly out to center field for the third out of the inning, but the Yankees held a 1-0 lead after one inning of play.
Cotton put the first inning behind him and took control
Cotton set the side down in order in the second inning. In the third inning, the right-hander walked Brett Gardner. With Gary Sanchez batting, Gardner attempted to steal second, A’ catcher Josh Phegley delivered a nice throw on the first base side to Jed Lowrie who put the tag down on headfirst sliding Gardner’s backside six inches before his hand could touch second base. Sanchez went down on strikes to end the inning.
Cotton set the Yankees down 1-2-3 in the fourth and fifth innings.
The sixth inning was no “Holliday” for Cotton
After getting the first two batters to fly out, Cotton walked Gary Sanchez. That brought former Oakland Athletic Matt Holliday to the plate. Holliday hit the 1-0 pitch over the left center field wall for a “no doubt about it” two-run home run to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
Cotton remained in the game to face Starlin Castro. Castro hit a single and that was all for Cotton. Frankie Montas came in and struck out Aaron Judge to end the inning.
Cotton worked 5.2 innings giving up three runs (all earned) on just two hits. He struck out five Yankees and walked three. Cotton threw 107 pitches (61 strikes). He was charged with the loss, so his record drops to 3-5 for the season.
Oakland kept the game close
Khris Davis worked Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia for a two-out walk in the top of the sixth inning. Ryan Healy then hit his 10th double of the season on an 0-2 count to left field that brought Davis home for A’s first run of the game. Healy moved to third on the throw home but was left stranded there when the inning ended.
In the top of the seventh inning, Josh Phegley made it a one-run game after he hit his second home run of the year over the left center field wall. Adam Rosales followed Phegley and hit a double to center field. That chased Sabathia from the game. Adam Warren took over on the mound. Rosales was left stranded at third when the inning was over.
Oakland threatens in the eighth frame
With Tyler Clippard on the hill, Khris Davis worked the pitcher for another walk. Ryan Healy then followed by hitting hit 11th double of the campaign to left field, but this time Davis had to hold up at third base.
That sent Clippard to the showers and New York brought in the 6-foot-8 right hander – Dellin Betances. Betances struck out Trevor Plouffe and Chad Pinder to end the inning with the potential tying and go ahead runs left on base.
Not that guy again
Betances came back out the top of the ninth for the Yankees and set the A’s down in order to end the game and earn his fifth save of the year. Betances’ ERA now stands at 0.52. He worked 1.2-innings and threw 24 pitches (14 strikes). He allowed no runs, no hits, no walks and struck out three Oakland hitters.
Sabathia was amazing as well
Vallejo’s favorite son is still looking very strong on the mound. He worked 6.1-innings on Saturday giving up two runs (earned) on six hits (one HR). He walked three. Sabathia struck nine Oakland A’s. Not long ago some were talking about Sabathia as being a “has been” as a major league pitcher.
Don’t call a low strike on Jed Lowrie
Jed Lowrie led off the top of the eighth inning for the A’s. He worked the count to 2-2 versus Tyler Clippard. Clippard’s 2-2 pitch was a fastball that dropped low in the zone and home plate umpire Will Little called it strike three.
Lowrie began to immediately give Little his opinion of the call in language I do not think he learned to speak at Stanford. Little tossed Lowrie looking at him and explaining you called me a name. Really? You called me a name. Now, if you call my mother a name – then it’s on but you called me a name?
But seriously, Major League Baseball has to establish a strike zone that is consistent and realistic. It must also be hitter friendly. The majority of fans come to the park to see home runs … not strike outs.
Rubber game of the match on Sunday
Both teams have the opportunity to win the series on Sunday. The Athletics will send RHP Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77) to the hill Sunday. Triggs has been the man the A’s have been able to depend on this season. What he needs from his team is run support.
The Yankees will counter with RHP Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35). Pineda has gone at least six innings in each of his last four starts.
The first pitch is scheduled for 10:05 a.m. PDT on Sunday.