Different Path: Yankees find themselves vulnerable after being swept by Athletics


The New York Yankees arrived in Oakland on an express path to the postseason. The march took a detour over the weekend, running smack into an upstart Athletics team full of young and confident players.

The Yankees entered yesterday’s game with CC Sabathia on the mound to try and end a three-game losing streak. He did his best and left with a lead but, Rafael Soriano couldn’t hold it and then Cody Eppley gave the game away in the twelfth inning, allowing his second walk-off hit of the series. It was the first time the Yankees suffered a four-game sweep since 2003.

Sabathia was staked to a 4-0 lead after a three-run third inning and a single run in the fourth. The Yankees used four straight singles off Athletics starter Bartolo Colon to plate their first run. Then Alex Rodriguez continued his mastery of Colon with a booming double to left center field driving in two more. Curtis Granderson launched his 26th home run of the season in the fourth inning to give Sabathia a nice cushion.

But, the A’s chipped away using the long ball. They received solo shots from Brandon Inge and Kurt Suzuki in the fifth. In the sixth the A’s scored on a force play to get within one run.

The Yankees offense was stifled after the fourth inning, recording only four hits from that point on. They did have a man on second base in the seventh, tenth and twelfth innings but could not push the run across.

Soriano blew his second save of the season and allowed his first home run of the year in the ninth after a scoreless eighth from David Robertson. With one out Seth Smith drilled a slider off Soriano to dead center field to tie the game.

Manager Joe Girardi called upon rookie David Phelps to start the tenth inning. Phelps was recently sent down to the minors to be stretched out. He came back ready to log innings, but surprisingly was pulled after only 19 pitches, despite looking very good against the five batters he faced.

Phelps gave way to Clay Rapada for one batter, Smith, in the eleventh. Rapada did his job and then got the first out the twelfth. He was replaced by Eppley, who promptly gave up a single to Derek Norris. Norris moved to second on a sac bunt by Jemile Weeks, setting the table for Coco Crisp. Crisp who entered the game earlier as a pinch-hitter, delivered a line drive single over a leaping Robinson Cano easily scoring Norris for the A’s sweep.

The Yankees (57-38) picked the wrong time to lose four straight, as the Baltimore Orioles have now won five in a row and sit just six games out of first place in the American League East. The Athletics (51-44), 14-2 in July, pulled themselves into a tie for the second wild card spot with the Orioles.

The Yankees move on to Seattle for a three-game series beginning tonight. Hiroki Kuroda will try to get the Yankees back on the winning track. Kuroda (9-7, 3.46 ERA) was excellent in his last start going seven scoreless innings and allowing only four hits in a win against the Toronto Blue Jays. He’ll face Kevin Millwood (3-7, 4.15 ERA), who was tagged for seven runs in five innings against the Kansas City Royals in his previous outing.