Should the Yankees Have Been More Worried about the Oakland Athletics?
After the Oakland Athletics got swept at home by the Angels, a glance at the upcoming schedule would fill an A’s fan with dread. Three against the World Champion Kansas City Royals, and then the road trip from Hell, including stops in New York, Toronto and Detroit. Given the A’s struggles on offense this year, I was hoping for maybe one win per city.
A’s fans should not get too excited about a couple wins in the Bronx, but it might be time to raise expectations just a little bit. So far, the Oakland Athletics do not seem to be a bit intimidated by this fearsome road trip.
Last night’s game offered a lot of vindication for some of the A’s players who have not had much success. Khris Davis went 2-4 with a couple of RBIs. Billy Butler singled and scored in the eighth. Sean Doolittle came in for the bottom of the ninth and earned the save. But it was Kendall Graveman who gained the most redemption.
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A’s fans who have watched Graveman pitch may have been surprised to find that he has not earned a win since the 4th of July of 2015. The Yankee batters would have been amazed by that stat as well. (In all fairness, Graveman was shut down due to injury last September.)
In the bottom of the first, it did not seem as though Graveman was going to last long enough to get a win. He gave up a leadoff double to Jacoby Ellsbury and he walked Starlin Castro and Brian McCann. Graveman managed to strike out Alex Rodriguez to leave the bases loaded, but he threw over 30 pitches in the first inning. Graveman found his stuff and ended up surrendering just one more walk and three hits over the next five innings. He was pitching so well that Bob Melvin even let him hit in the top of the fifth after the A’s forfeited their designated hitter, when Danny Valencia was injured trying to score on a sacrifice fly.
A’s fans must be wondering why the Athletics keep losing their DH during the game. It is, I think, a factor of being a low-budget team. The A’s have power hitters who can not play good defense, and defensively-talented players who cannot hit all that well. After the game, Melvin said he wanted Chris Coghlan at third for better defense, which meant putting DH Jed Lowrie at second. It did not seem like a wise gamble when A-Rod hit a rocket at Lowrie that bounced off his glove into short right center. The scorer was generous and gave Rodriguez a hit. Fortunately, it did not matter when Chase Headley grounded into a double play.
Melvin’s emphasis on third base defense paid off in the bottom of the seventh. With one out and a runner on first, Billy Burns misplayed Didi Gregorius‘ single into a double. This error put the tying runs at second and third. The next hitter, Aaron Hicks grounded the ball down to third and Coghlan turned a nifty double play by tagging Didi Gregorius and throwing on to first. The Yankees protested mightily and it went to replay, which was inconclusive.
It was a terrific play for Coghlan and the A’s, but one has to wonder, what was Gregorius thinking? His team was down by two in the seventh. The Yankees had caught a huge break off an A’s error. There was no one on first; Gregorius did not have to run. In the parlance of baseball, it was a bonehead play.
It is a little strange to watch the A’s play the Yankees these days. Yankee Stadium seems empty. Most of the Yankees seem really over-the-hill. One of their few young exciting players made a costly base running mistake. It is not “the Yankee Way.” I won’t lie. I hate the Yankees, and I would love to see them fail. I am immensely enjoying the A’s success in Yankee Stadium. But it does seem a little strange to see the A’s executing and playing well while the Yankees are floundering.
Maybe it’s time for the Yankees to be intimidated by the A’s coming to town.