Anthony Rizzo of the New York Yankees prepares to thrown down his helmet after striking out in the sixth inning against the Oakland A’s on Sat Aug 28, 2021 (AP News photo)
New York 2 – 5 – 2
Oakland 3 – 5 – 0
By Lewis Rubman
Saturday August 28, 2021
OAKLAND–The statistical expression “regression to the norm” can be translated to the vernaclular as the proverbial “water seeks its own level.” When the A’s opened the season with six progressively distressing defeats, they knew they weren’t as bad as their record indicated.
The responded by regressing to the norm by playing better than they really were, and three weeks later they were in first place in the AL West. They stayed there for two months before regressing once more to the norm, slowly but steadily dropping in winning percentage and the division and wild card standings.
Game time today found them at 70-59, trailing Houston by 6-1/2 games in the division and Boston by 3-1/2 for the second wild card spot. And they were in the throes of another six game losing streak, but now they have only 32 games left in the season.
Their starting pitcher, Frankie Montás is as capable of extreme performance swings as the rest of the team. In his most recent outing, last Sunday at the Coliseum, he held the Giants to two hits and two walks over seven scoreless innings.
His opposite number with the Yankees, Néstor Cortés, Jr., also had a successful seven innings in his previous mound appearance. The cagey southpaw held the Twins to a pair of earned runs to get the win and bring his record to 2-1, 2.56. That ERA is the second best in the American Leagiue.
The outcome of this encounter was a 3-2 win for Oakland, breaking the visitors’ 13 game winning streak and stopping the Athletics’ losing string at a half-dozen
Oakland struck first, on a two out double to left center by Chad Pinder, who notched the Athletics’ first tally when, after a walk to Sean Murphy, Tony Kemp’s single to center drove the versatile Pinder, the A’s starting right fielder, home and sending Murphy, DHing todaly, to third.
Cortés´s balk brought the DH in with the A’s second tally.They looked ready to score a Rickie run in the third when Starling Marte’s speed made Rougned Odor rush his throw on a grounder to third for a two base error and then stole third while Matt Olson was oin the process of striking out.
Yan Gomes then lashed a vicious liner up the middle on which second sacker DJ LeMahieu made a diving grab and rifled a throw to. Odor for the inning ending double play. Third Will Little’s call passed the video review test, much to Bob Melvin’s displeasure, and another A’s opportunity was lost, throuigh no fault of their own.
No one made a diving grab of Matt Chapman’s lead off drive in the fourth. It started out as an 86 mph slider and ended up 403 feet away over the fence in left enter for Chappy’s 21st round tripper of lthe year and a 3-0 lead for the Athletics.
When Canha got a single on a hard hit grounder to short, beating Velázquez´s one hop throw to first, with one down in the sixth, Aaron Boone decided that Cortés had seen enough action. He left the game, having yielded three runs, all earned, and was responsible for Canha.
Oakland reached him for four hits, one of them a homer, and three walks plus a run scoring balk. 60 of his 95 pitches were strikes. Right hander Albert Abreu relieved him and retired Pinder and Murphy to close the book on Cortés and bring New York up for the seventh frame.
Judge opened that inning with a line single to left center, the Yanks´ first safety since his double in the first. It came on Montás´s 86th pitch. The Oakland starter recovered from that brief setbackwith a swinging strike out of Stanton and beaiutiful Olson to Chapman to Olson inning ending double play, made possible by the extreme shift that had the A’s third baseman stationed just a few steps to the left of second. Who says that the use of shifts has made the game boring?
Kemp’s lead off fly to right in the home seventh turned Stanton around twice, converting a long fly into a two base hit. Once more, the curse of the lead off double struck. Two ground outs, an intentional walk, and a K, and the A’s had stranded two runners.
98 pitches in seven innings was the limit for Montás. He held the Bronx Bombers to two hits and a walk, throwing only 35 balls to the 23 batters he faced and mainly frustrated. Andrew Chafin relieved him and, after allowing a single to Voit, was lights out end the episode.
Lefty Lucas Luetge faced the A’s in their half of the eighth, starting with Chapman, who drove the reliever’s 2-2 offering over the left field fence, only to have Joey Gallo jump up and bring it down. It was three straight outs after that, bringing us to the top of the ninth and Sergio Romo taking the mound in his old role as closer.
LeMehieu socked a hard llner to third. Chapman caught it. Rizzo blooped a Texas Leaguer to left center. No one caught it. No one caiught Aaron Judge’s fly ball until lit had travelled 406 feet into the left field stands. The score was 3-2, and chants of “Let’s go, Yankees” filled the air, quieted when Stanton popped out to Harrison at second.
It sounded like more than the 18,337 paying customers were cheering when Gallo came to bat, but you couldn’t tell whom the were cheering for. Gallo grounded out to second for the final out. Romo’s performance wasn’t pretty, but he got the job done. Hhis first save of the year preserved the A’s lead and the win that brought Montás’s record to 10-9, 3.66. The loss brought Cortés’s record to 2-2.77.
The A’s will try to start a new regression to the norm and even the series Sonday at 1:08, with Paul Blackburn (0-1, 4.09) going against Jordan Montgomery (5-5, 3.69).