The last time the A’s were swept in any four-game series at home was 1999 by the Cleveland Indians; the Yankees (21-22) last swept the A’s at the Coliseum in 1979.
Yankees starter Michael Pineda (w, 2-5, 6.34 ERA) came into the game having allowed five ore more runs in four of eight starts this season, and was hit for three runs and six knocks in 6 innings. With two home runs, the Bronx Bombers gave Pineda just enough support to earn him his first win since April 6 — his first start of the season.
Jesse Hahn (L, 1-2, 4.07 ERA) was fantastic for the A’s (19-26), handing a 3-2 lead to the bullpen in the sixth, who went on to relieve their starter of the lead.
John Axford allowed a pair of inherited runners to score on Hahn’s record before Sean Doolittle gave up a run of his own — which proved to be the winning tally — in the seventh, wasting solid offensive performances from Stephen Vogt and Billy Burns.
After the game, manager Bob Melvin said that the decision was easy, despite Hahn’s manageable pitch count — just 73:
“(Hahn) pitched well. He was ahead when he came out of the game, (but) I wasn’t going to leave my three best guys in my pocket with 10 outs to go.”
The starter said he didn’t disagree with his manager’s decision, saying the bullpen has been great all year.
No doubt feeling the need for a win to avoid a sweep and clinch a winning home stand, Burns followed a one-out single by stealing second (11) to set up Vogt with an RBI situation. Still not satisfied, the speedy center fielder swiped third (12) on the very next pitch — a pitch Vogt took sans consideration given Burns’ jump — without a throw.
Thanks to the impressive display of speed, a meager Vogt groundout netted the A’s their first run, and only second lead of the series.
Three pitches into the top of the second, New York tied the game up with a home run off the bat of Brian McCann (6). The visitors took the lead the next frame, when lead-off man Jacoby Ellsbury went deep (2).
Although Hahn said he was happy with the pitch on which Ellsbury went deep, but the first homer was in fact a mistake:
“(That) Was just a bad pitch selection — the changeup. I cut one down, low-and-in, to a lefty. That’s his wheelhouse. That’s a bad pitch, on my part.”
Burns and Vogt were once again in the middle of another run-scoring rally, to take a lead in the fifth.
With a two-out chopper just over the drawn in New York third baseman Chase Headley, Burns moved Jake Smolinski to second with a single. Vogt came through in this third trip to the plate with his team’s only hit in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position, lining a double into the left field corner, getting two RBIs (10) for his efforts.
Vogt appeared to be frustrated with a trio of close pitches called strikes in his second and third at-bats, and said after the game that he was upset with himself:
“I’ve had plenty of games when I’ve punched out three times, then when you come up for your fourth at-bat you’ve got to just flush everything out an stay in the moment. Obviously, I was fortunate to come through with a big hit (in the fifth) . It ended up being kind of a moot point.”
The All-Star catcher finished that thought by raising a point that his entire team should take to heart following the sweep:
“This game is very negative — there’s a lot of failure — so you’ve just got to stay in the moment. That’s what keeps you going.”
Burns scored a third run (23) in the eighth, but the A’s were unable to leverage a pair of Yankee errors, stranding their fifth runner of the afternoon to end the frame.
Things won’t get any easier for the A’s, as they will now head to Seattle for a three-game set with the division-leading Mariners (25-17). Getting the ball in Monday’s game one will be Rich Hill (6-3, 2.54 ERA) for Oakland and Taijuan Walker (2-3, 2.95 ERA) for the Mariners.