A’s trump Yankees, Sabathia in 5-4 win

The A’s defeated the New York Yankees 5-4 Thursday night on the back of clutch at-bats from Brett Lawrie and Ben Zobrist.

Lawrie smacked a two-run homer in the fifth inning to tie the score, and Zobrist took a walk in the seventh inning to give the A’s a 4-3 lead. Designated hitter Billy Butler added another run with a sacrifice fly that scored outfielder Billy Burns.

Manager Bob Melvin said:

“We’ve been looking for one big hit. And certainly the way things were going with runners in scoring position, it was a struggle again for awhile, but Lawrie’s hit was huge. And the at bats after that seemed to get better, whether they were multiple pitch at bats, walks.”

The A’s went 0-for-21 in their two previous games with runners in scoring position, both against Detroit, and have had similar issues for the majority of the season.

Burns had an outstanding game, and is the biggest reason the A’s finished on the right side of the column.

He had two hits in four at-bats, both proving to be clutch, with two runs and one RBI. He awakened the A’s offense with a home run in the fifth inning, his second of the year, and was a key part of the series that helped Oakland take the lead.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

Melvin gave him a vote of confidence:

“He’s shown some power, he really has shown that he’s stronger this year. We’ve talked about that a lot, whether it’s right handed or left. You can’t play him near as cheap in the outfield and he’s driving some balls.”

Burns has been filling in for the injured Coco Crisp, who normally plays centerfield but is becoming an injury-prone part of the roster. The 35-year-old is slated to miss playing time until July, and Burns will see the majority of work until then.

Burns came to Oakland as a minor leaguer in 2013 in a trade with the Washington Nationals for reliever Jerry Blevins, and has the potential to become the A’s outfielder of the future.

He’s shown an impressive amount of power for a guy known for speed, and said he is even surprising himself:

“Every once in awhile I can hook one out to left, but I thought that one might hit the wall or go foul. I’m kind of more surprised that it stayed fair and went out. But I’m just happy to spark a little energy for the team.”

Oakland’s starter Kendall Graveman nearly had a quality start, ending up with a no-decision after 5-2/3 innings with four strikeouts and three earned runs on seven hits.

Lawrie said:

“Graveman did a real good job for us, getting us back in the dugout and keeping us in the game at the same time.”

Melvin added:

“(Graveman) was in between what we’ve seen at his best, but hung in there. He had some pretty good left handed hitters get some decent swings off him, particularly McCann had some good swings off him. But you’re talking about three runs. Which isn’t too bad.”

Graveman allowed a home run to catcher Brian McCann in the second inning and untimely hits in the fourth and fifth innings, but was effective enough to keep the A’s in line for a win.

Evan Scribner (W, 1-0, 2.20 ERA) pitched 1-2/3 innings of perfect ball, striking out two and recording the win.

But another player in Oakland’s dugout certainly deserves mention.

Lawrie was the one who evened the score with his only hit of the game, a two-run shot over the left field wall. Lawrie hasn’t been the guy some might have expected, batting .266 entering Thursday night, but has contributed in ways this season that haven’t gone unnoticed in Oakland’s clubhouse.

Tyler Clippard came in for the ninth to close the game and notched his fifth save of the season, though he allowed a walk and an RBI double to outfielder Brett Gardner with two outs.

A deep fly ball to straightaway center field was the last out of the game, too, which may have been a home run if it weren’t hit to the deepest part of the park.

Though he allowed all five runs, it may have still been a special night for Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who grew up in Vallejo. Sabathia (L, 2-7, 5.67 ERA) allowed eight hits and one walk, striking out four hitters over six innings in front of his native crowd.

The A’s advance to 18-32 on the season, but still trail the American League West-leading Astros by 13 games, six behind the fourth-place Texas Rangers.

Oakland ace Sonny Gray (5-2, 1.77 ERA) will go against the Yankees Friday, who will have southpaw Chris Capuano (0-2, 7.36 ERA) on the hill to start.

NOTES

The A’s snapped a 12 game losing streak in one run games at home that dated back to September of 2014, the longest streak of it’s kind in franchise history. … Graveman made it further than five innings for the third time this year, six starts total, but has 16 earned runs in 13-2/3 home innings this season. … Shortstop Marcus Semien has committed at least one error in 10 of the last 19 games, 12 total, and is on pace for 58 errors this season. … Semien’s pace would blow away the American League leader in errors for the 2014 season, former A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson held that trophy with 23 on the season.


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