Giancarlo Stanton rounds the bases for the New York Yankees after hitting a master blaster 472 feet for a home run off Oakland A’s starter Sean Manaea at the Oakland Coliseum on Fri Aug 27, 2021 (AP News photo)
New York 8 – 14- 1
Oakland 2 – 8. – 0
By Lewis Rubman
Friday August 27, 2021
OAKLAND–It’s tempting to think of tonight’s starting pitcher for the Oakland Athletics (70-59), Sean Manaea (8-8, 3.77 at game time) as the personification of the team. Both the man and the ball club show flashes of excellence, go on hot streaks of sustained and unsustainable superiority, and then go terribly, terribly cold.
And, when they took the field, they were, indeed, in spite of a temperature reading of 82 degrees, terribly, terribly cold. Oakland, at 70-58, was five and a half games behind Houston for the AL Western Division lead and two and a half games behind Boston for the second AL wild card spot and threatening to repeat their season opening nightmare of a six game losing streak. The A’s went down in a whimper a sixth straight loss defeated by their guests the New York Yankees (76-52).
Manaea, who was 3-2, 1.13 in June, went 2-2, 3.30 in July, and hadn’t won a game or gone more than five innings this month, losing half of his four August starts. The man who no hit the Red Sox three year ago still hasn’t fulfilled his potential.
Meanwhile, Manaea’s Yankee counterpart, Gerrit Cole (12-6, 2.92), he of the rising fast ball, had been undefeated in his two starts, both wins, in August. His highest ERA at any point this season was 3.38, following his opening day non decision against Toronto.
Tonight’s contest, an 8-2 drubbing administered by the visitors wasn’t out of character for either team or either of their starting moundsmen..
The two slightly mismatched pitchers traded zeroes until Giancarlo Stanton led off the fourth with a four base blast to center and, following Gallo’s pop up to. Andrus, Luke Voit followed suit with another round tripper to center. They were home runs number 25 and eight, respectively, for the two Bronx bombers, and they felt like a re-enactment of the second inning demolition derby Stanton and Gardner performed on Cole Irvin last night.
The Athletics’ recurring nightmare continued in the fifth, not exactly the same as the previous nights’, but close enough to be distressing. Kyle Higashioka and LeMahieu stroked singles to the left center and left, respectively; Rizzo went down swinging; and Judge swung for the fences.
His 28th dinger of the the year cleared the one in center field and sent Manaea to the showers. He left completing 4-1/3 innings of arduous labor, allowing five runs, all earned, on seven hits and a hit batter. On the other hand, he didn’t walk anyone. His pitch total was 86; 58 counted as strikes, and he took the loss.
Deolis Guerra took Manaea’s place on the mound and was hit hard for by Stanton, who flew out to left, Gallo, who doubled to right. He got Voit to strike out swinging and pitched a perfect sixth before giving way to AJ Puk, who held the Yanks to one hit in the seventh before he was, in turn, replaced by Jake Diekman, who set them down in order in the eighth.
The A’s stirred in the fifth, only to leave, as they have been doing too frequently these days, three men on base. A lead off single to center by Andrus, followed by another by Kemp and, after Marte fouled out to first, a walk to Olson put an Athletic on every base. But Lowrie went down swinging, and Harrison’s wicked line drive towards left somehow landed in the glove of the flying Urshela at third. RISP has been morphing into RIP for Oakland.
Ahead 5-0 after six innings, manager Aaron Boone decided he had no need to keep Cole on the job. He had allowed the A’s six hits and two walks; thaat was it. He struck out nine, and 70 of his 104 offerings were strikes. He went to the showers with an ERA lowered to 2.80 and, at game’s end, was the winning pitcher. His replacement, Joey Rodríguez, allowed the A’s a window of opportunity.
With one out, he walked Chad Pinder, pinch hitting for Kemp, and allowed singles to left by Marte and Olson. Olson’s safety drove in Pinder and advanced Marte to third. Gallo’s throw home was way off line, allowing Marte to score and Olson to make his way to second, occasioning Rodríguez’s early departure, Chad Green replacing him on the hill. He put out the fire by walking Lowrie and inducing a 4-6-3 twin killing from Harrison. He proceeded to strke out the three A’s he faced in the eighth.
New York put the game out of reach in the top of the ninth. Burch Smith gave up a first pitch lead off double to Velázquez. There was no curse of the lead off double for Kyle Higashioka when he brought all of his .179 batting average to the plate and blasted a 94 mph fast ball into the right center field seats to open up a 7-2 gap between the Yankees and their too accomodating host.
Singles by LeMahieu, Rizzo, and Judge made it 8-2, with runners on first and second and still not a man out. Stanton and the infield fly rule finally broke the Yankees’ streak of five successive hits, and, after Smith retired two more batters, allowed the Athletics one last chance, with Lucas Luetge on the mound for the New Yorkers, to catch up. They went down, 1-2-3.
As if the Yankees’ pyrotechnics hadn’t been enough for them, most of the 22,462 people in the stands hung around to watch the Star Wars fireworks that followed the game.
Saturday afternoon at 1:07, Frankie Montás (9-9, 3.84) will go against Néstor Cortés (2-1, 2.56) and his accompanying wrecking crew in an attempt to stop the A’s impending slide into oblivion.