Yankees strike back against sloppy A’s

Jesse Hahn kept the Yankees run total within striking distance, but New York’s defense did just a little better Saturday night in defeating the Oakland A’s 5-3.

The A’s fell prey to the Yankees’ bullpen after chasing starter Nathan Eovaldi out of the game, and Hahn just couldn’t keep up. Hahn finished the night allowing seven hits and three earned runs, while striking out four in six innings of work.

This story has been updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the A’s clubhouse.

Hahn had some backing from the A’s offense in the third and fourth innings, too, with Oakland scoring three over that span.

The decisive duel for Hahn was one of his last, facing Carlos Beltran, who belted a two-run homer to center field, scoring catcher Brian McCann and helping the Yankees to a 4-3 lead that they’d never give back.

Said Melvin of the play:

“That was probably the one sinker that was up. I thought (Hahn) threw the ball really well. It’s basically an all lefthanded hitting lineup. … Really it ends up being one ball a little bit up to Beltran.”

Hahn added:

“It was definitely one pitch. … It was a good pitch for (Beltran) to drive.”

Melvin and Hahn were both content with the outing, save for the one pitch. Hahn liked the movement he was getting, and the separation of speed in his changeup. And if he wasn’t on his game, the score might have been very different.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

The wind was blowing 16 miles per hour to right field for the better part of the game, and only two hitters in New York’s lineup are righties.

Defensive sloppiness —  Oakland’s Achilles heel in 2015 — returned after briefly vanishing. The A’s were charged with one error Saturday night, but arguments exist for three more through the game.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

In the seventh inning, third baseman Chase Headley bunted up the third base line, starting inches from the chalk, then closer. The ball went over the chalk into foul territory not once, not twice, but three times, before parking in fair territory for a single.

Melvin opted to not throw his players under the bus during a post-game press conference, stating that he wasn’t sure the ball ever went foul, but a replay shown in the room not two minutes prior showed a close up of the play.

If third baseman Brett Lawrie, or another one of the four A’s hovering around had kicked, tapped, or otherwise touched the ball while it was left of the chalk, the single would have been a foul.

Lawrie in particular had several defensive wrongdoings. He lost a hard line drive which hit his glove and then bounced in front of him, but couldn’t find until it was too late, and was the only error charged in the game.

Another potential error on Marcus Semien during the eighth inning, and another could have been charged to first baseman Mark Canha.

Oakland’s defense, which had been crisp during a recent stretch, was far from it Saturday, and the lackadaisical play helped turn a loss.

Another Achilles heel for the A’s has been clutch hitting, and they did alright Saturday night. The team went 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position, but also left seven men stranded.

Oakland’s newest young outfielder, Billy Burns, went 2-for-4 with two singles, but didn’t attempt to steal a base. A peculiar decision from A’s manager Bob Melvin, who has a reputation to not send runners, but also hasn’t had much experience with players like Burns.

The closest to Burns Melvin has had in Oakland was Craig Gentry in 2014. Both are similar, though Burns is faster and more youthful.

Melvin said:

“Early on, we had seven hits and no runs, that’s hard to do. One extra base hit maybe breaks it open a little more. We were getting good at bats, we were getting our share of hits, but not to the point where we were knocking runs in early.”

The A’s outhit the Yankees Saturday, 12 hits to 10, and outpitched them as well. At least, that’s how the unofficial scorecard, including the questionable scoring decisions, would look.

Even then, both starters allowed three earned runs, Hahn gave up seven hits to Eovaldi’s 11, and neither bullpen allowed a decisive run.

It’s something that has been troubling the metric-centric A’s, who rely heavily on number crunching to determine their daily lineups and set aside bad defense as an anomaly. But there’s no questioning the bad infield play helped lead to another loss.

But it doesn’t help that some of the main contributors aren’t playing as well lately.

Semien is batting .189 over the last 10 games, despite having a multi hit game Saturday. Burns, Lawrie and Josh Reddick also had multiple hits, all singles, and no A’s player took a walk.

The A’s will close the series Sunday afternoon with Jesse Chavez (1-5, 2.44 ERA) taking the hill against Adam Warren (3-3, 3.91).

NOTES

Oakland is 3-3 on their seven game homestand, and have a solid opportunity to win their first home series of the season with Jesse Chavez starting Sunday. … Chavez has a 2.57 home ERA, with 20 hits allowed and 13 strikeouts in 21 innings at the coliseum. If he does win, though, it’ll be his first home win of the season.


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