New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has received the home star treatment throughout this weekend’s series in Oakland. The Athletics, though, have their own 25-year-old stud, and Ryon Healy made sure his impact was felt Saturday.
Though Judge has been showered with “MVP” chants upon stepping into the batter’s box for each at-bat, it was Healy who mashed a pair of long home runs to maximize his value in a 5-2 win for the A’s (30-38).
The Yankees (38-28) missed several opportunities to hurt Oakland starter Jesse Hahn, setting themselves up to be swept for the first time this season.
Sean Doolittle said the three wins to open this series and homestand have come behind a solid overall group effort:
“We’re playing some really good baseball so far this series. We had contributions from a lot of different guys today, and we’re playing really good team baseball.”
Home runs were once again the story for the A’s, who have now hit 97 long balls this season — fourth-most in the American League.
The Yankees made Hahn (W, 3-4, 3.56 ERA) work hard in the first, but after two walks and 31 pitches the visitors settled with nothing more than work, finishing the frame without scoring.
One pitch into the bottom half, New York was trailing when Matt Joyce launched a fastball down and away into the seats in right-center field for a leadoff homer (8).
Joyce finished 3-for-3 with two walks. Manager Bob Melvin said:
“This is the best we’ve seen him, the past week or 10 days. … After the last two games, to be able to get on the board right away, that’s a confidence boost, and a little bit of a mental blow for the other side, too.”
Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka responded by striking out the nest three A’s hitters. And his offense put him right back in front, tallying two in the second on and RBI single from Austin Romine and a sacrifice fly from Brett Gardner. But Tanaka (L, 6-6, 6.34 ERA), whose home run surrendered to Joyce tied him with Bronson Arroyo for the most this season (22), was bitten again.
This time around it was Healy who uncorked a monster blast, this one into the bleachers in left-center. It wasn’t for lack of execution by Tanaka, who hit his location below the zone with a splitter, but it yielded a Healy solo homer (16) all the same.
Healy, who recorded the third multi-homer game of his career (each this month) tying him for the AL lead with eight homers in June, said he still has work to do:
“I’m not satisfied with the consistency of it. There’s things that I’m not doing well enough on a day-to-day basis. Fortunately, I’m able to still compete, and that’s the biggest thing.”
Hahn recorded his only 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon in the third. And with the help of Khris Davis, who was put out after his pop-up fell near home as he walked toward the dugout instead of heading to first, Tanaka matched it.
But in the fourth, Healy put on another power display. And this time, a leadoff solo blast (17) even deeper into the seats in the same direction triggered a rally. Matt Chapman followed up Healy with a line-drive single to left, his second hit of the afternoon, and two outs later the top three Oakland batters each singled, including RBI knocks from Adam Rosales and Jed Lowrie.
Tanaka finished his 5 innings of work serving up eight hits and five runs while walking one and striking out 10. Hahn held the Yanks to three hits and two runs, but walking three to his six strikeouts led to a high pitch count and early removal. He said:
“Great team win, I feel great about that. On my part, I think I can be a little more efficient there, keep my pitch count down so I can go a little deeper in the ballgame.”
Once the bullpen entered the fray, both offenses cooled off.
For the Yankees, it was rookie Domingo German who put the clamps on the free-swinging A’s, finishing things out with 4 scoreless frames. Melvin and the A’s deployed their bullpen committee using Liam Hendriks, Josh Smith, Ryan Madson and Doolittle (S, 2, 2.53 ERA), who each threw one scoreless inning with a combined six strikeouts, to shut the door.
Doolittle offered compliment to the work of German before speaking about the work of his own group:
“It was awesome to see the way we pieced it together today and have each guy come in and feed off the guy’s performance before. There’s a lot of confidence down there.”
As for the young dynamic power hitters, Judge finished his day 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts, each greeted with the “Law & Order” theme music blaring through the stadium sound system.
Of his approach attacking baseball’s top offensive threat, Hahn said:
“I think we just had a good approach. I feel like a lot of guys in the league have been scared to go inside to him, but I thought we did a good job of establishing the inner-half of the plate.”
Healy collected three hits, adding a single and a strikeout, in four trips.
After failing in their first two attempts, the A’s get a third chance to finish off a four-game sweep Sunday. Jharel Cotton (3-7, 5.52 ERA) gets the ball for Oakland after suffering a tough-luck loss four starts ago in New York. The Yankees counter with Luis Cessa (0-0, 5.40 ERA), making his second appearance and first start of the season.
Marcus Semien took his first batting practice session since undergoing surgery on his right wrist on April 17. He came away from the work feeling good, said manager Bob Melvin, who expects Semien to begin a minor league rehab assignment in the near future — perhaps during the A’s upcoming road trip. … Ryan Dull (right knee) ran sprints prior to the game. Melvin said he is steadily improving, but there is no timetable for his return. Chris Bassitt (Tommy John Surgery) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session. Melvin said it was the best he’s looked and felt since returning from last season’s surgery. … Closer Santiago Casilla was hit in the left shoulder by a foul ball off the bat of teammate Jaycob Brugman in the fourth. X-Rays came back negative and Melvin said he feels fine. … The A’s honored Hall of Famer Jim “Catfish” Hunter, renaming the former “C Gate” in his honor.