The Yankees lost to the Oakland Athletics, 4-3, in 10 innings on Tuesday in the first game of their three-game series in the Bronx. The Yankees had the lead against A’s ace Sonny Gray twice but gave it back and then the bullpen, which has usually dominated this season, allowed the game-tying and game-winning run.
Brett Lawrie hit a homer to deep left in the 10th off of All-Star Dellin Betances (1.65 ERA, 71 strikeouts) to give the Athletics a 4-3 lead. That was the second homer that Betances allowed this season and the last one came in his previous appearance on July 4th against the Rays. Betances, who had three strikeouts in his 1.2 innings pitched in relief of Justin Wilson, threw Lawrie a hanging breaking ball on an 0-2 pitch.
“It just doesn’t happen very often,” Joe Girardi said. “It happened tonight. It’s a game where there is the human element involved. He (Betances) left a breaking ball in the middle and he (Lawrie) hit it out.”
In the sixth inning, after Nathan Eovaldi was taken out of the game, Chasen Shreve allowed a homer to Billy Butler, who was the second batter he faced. Butler, who went 1-4, made the score 3-3 on his homer to the first row in left and hit the first of two homers off of Yankees relievers. Shreve, who had a 15-game scoreless streak, has now allowed a run in back-to-back games.
Eovaldi, who allowed two runs on six hits with four strikeouts in 5.1 innings, held the opposition to less than three runs for his fourth consecutive start. Two of his highlights were striking out Marcus Semien on an 88mph splitter in the fifth and getting 11 swing and misses during his 5.1 innings.
“I’ve got to do a better job of getting quick outs and working deep into the ball game,’ Eovaldi said.
He was taken out of the game after throwing only 86 pitches partly because opposing teams have a .378 batting average against him the third time through the order. Joe Girardi also thought Shreve would have better success against the next batter.
“Reddick had hit him pretty hard and I had a fresh bullpen,” Joe Girardi said. “The way my bullpen has been throwing I just thought I would go to Shreve. With a fresh bullpen I would do it especially lefty on lefty in that situation.”
To give the Yankees a 3-2 lead, Didi Gregorius hit a single to right center that scored Brian McCann with two outs in the fourth. Gregorius is hitting 6-18 (.333) with two RBIs in July after having a .258 average in June. McCann and Garrett Jones both hit RBI singles in the first inning off of Gray but Oakland tied the score against Eovaldi in the third.
The Yankees were 3-11 with runners in scoring position and Chris Young, Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley all hit into a double play.
Alex Rodriguez walked in the 10th to put runners on first and second with two outs. Mark Teixeira, who was 0-5 with three strikeouts, struck out swinging on a 3-2 change by former Yankee Tyler Clippard to end the game. Clippard picked up his 16th save of the season.
Girardi was impressed with the bullpen overall and thought that more run support would have helped. “For the most part, they were pretty good,” Girardi said. “It is unfortunate we didn’t score some runs for them after it was 3-3.”
The Yankees, who are 44-39 and have a game and a half lead for first place in the AL East, could not take advantage of the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays both losing on Tuesday. The Orioles and Blue Jays are both 1.5 games out of first and the floundering Rays, who are 1-9 in their last 10 games, are 2.5 games out of first.
The Athletics (39-47), who have the worst record in the American League, will play the Yankees again tonight and Thursday afternoon. Before the All-Star break, the Yankees will play a three-game set from Friday to Sunday at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller will come off of the disabled list before Wednesday’s game.