A’s can’t make Yankees pay for base­running blunders

The New York Yankees gave the Oakland Athletics every chance to take the game Thursday night, but the home team was unable to capitalize falling 4-1.

Losing three base runners, and stranding another nine, the Yankees (18-22) scratched out just enough offense after having 15 men reach base. Kendall Graveman was tagged with eight hits, walking three and hitting another, over 5-2/3 innings of work. Aided by poor Yankee base running, the Oakland starter allowed just two runs, in the losing effort.

Ivan Nova (W, 3-1, 3.26 ERA) used a fastball-heavy approach to quiet what has been one of the American League’s hottest lineups. Allowing just one run to cross, on a Josh Reddick fourth-inning homer (5), Nova went six strong before handing the ball to a dominant New York bullpen.

The biggest loss of the night for the A’s (19-23) came between the seventh and eight innings when Reddick — who was pulled after injuring his hand on a stolen base (4) — was diagnosed with a fractured left thumb.

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

The right fielder has been the  most consistent hitter in the A’s lineup, carrying a .322 average and .440 slugging percentage. He will see a hand specialist Friday, but said that early projections are have him missing four to six weeks.

Reddick said that the injury coming when he had just gotten hot is more than frustrating:

“I’m more pissed off than anything. I was having a great year. I had cemented myself as a three-hole hitter with this team. It’s more frustrating when I do it on something that I don’t do a lot — stealing a bag — as opposed to diving, or something like that.”

The 2012 Gold Glove winner said that he had a green light at first, and facing a tough pitcher in Dellin Betances (10 holds, 2.33 ERA) and a one-run deficit, he was trying to set up the hot Danny Valencia with a chance to tie the game.

Of the loss of his star outfielder, manager Bob Melvin said:

“He’s there for us every day. He’s one of the better players in the league. It’s going to take us to 12 on the (disabled list) right now, but that’s a pretty significant guy to lose.

Melvin added that no decision has been made as to who will be called up from the minors to replace Reddick. He added that the discussion will take place Thursday night.

For the Yankees, the baserunning gaffes began in the third inning when, with two down, a deep liner off the bat of Brian McCann was dropped by Reddick in right. Carlos Beltran — who was on second after an RBI double — attempted to tag up, thinking there was two outs. Despite McCann getting to second on the error, Beltran was only able to advance to third and was left there after a Starlin Castro line out.

The Yankees committed another egregious base-running blunder in the sixth.

Graveman (L, 1-6, 5.48 ERA), who had thrown 86 pitches through the fifth, went back to the mound in a 1-1 tie. Each of the four batters the righty faced reached base, but a pickoff of the inning’s lead-off hitter Chase Headley snuffed some of the sting.

Two batters later, Yank shortstop Didi Gregorius lined a single to right. The strong-armed Reddick fired through to third attempting to get Dustin Ackley, who had been at first. Gregorius responded by heading to second where he was cut down on a throw from Danny Valencia to Marcus Semien.

The visitors did push across the go-ahead run in the inning, before adding a two-run home run by Beltran (9) in the eighth, when Ackley scored on an Aaron Hicks double knocking Graveman out.

The skipper thought Graveman looked good, saying several of the hits he allowed came on poorly struck balls.

The starter concurred, saying:

“I thought that was the best sinker I’ve had, pretty much all year, to both sides of the plate… (Pitching coach) Curt (Young) and I have worked really hard the past few weeks, just to stay on top of routine… Just to be able to repeat that delivery is something that we’re still striving for.”

Graveman also addressed the loss of Reddick:

“Red’s a big part of our lineup. He’s a great outfielder. He brings a lot of energy everyday.”

The A’s look to return to their winning ways without the All-Star caliber outfielder when they send Sonny Gray (3-4, 5.84 ERA) Friday to the mound looking to rebound from recent struggles. The Yankees will counter with CC Sabathia (2-2, 3.81 ERA).


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.