The rally that the A’s needed never materialized Thursday, surprising with the way events had been playing out for them at Yankee Stadium.
They ran into one of the American League’s top pitchers in Masahiro Tanaka, who slowed down Oakland’s momentum in a 2-1 New York victory that denied the A’s a three-game sweep.
Tanaka (9-1) gave up a first-inning homer to John Jaso but nothing else over six innings, and his sharp outing added even more importance to the A’s claiming the first two games of the series. They took the field already having captured the series and were simply going for the cherry on the sundae Thursday afternoon.
Oakland threatened in the ninth against Yankees closer David Robertson. Stephen Vogt singled with one out and pinch runner Craig Gentry stole second. Then the A’s caught an incredibly unlucky break, as Alberto Callaspo’s hard grounder up the middle ricocheted off Robertson’s left foot and went directly to first baseman Mark Teixeira, who flipped to Roberston covering first for the second out.
Gentry moved to third on the play, but Derek Norris was called out looking to end the game on a pitch that appeared to be off the outside corner.
Starting pitching report
Drew Pomeranz (5-3) turned in the longest start of his career, going seven innings and allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out seven and walked one. The first run he allowed wasn’t entiredly his fault, as left fielder Brandon Moss misplayed Brian McCann’s single in the second inning and allowed McCann to get to second. He would score from there on Alfonso Soriano’s single to tie the game 1-1. Then Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the third by swatting a home run to right that put the Yankees ahead 2-1.
Jim Johnson, the focus of trade rumors Wednesday, turned in a scoreless eighth inning. He gave up a single but got all three outs via the ground, a good sign for the sinkerballer.
At the plate
Things started out promising for the A’s when John Jaso jumped on a first-inning pitch from Tanaka and cleared the right field wall to give Oakland an early lead. But then Tanaka (9-1) settled in and showed why he’ll likely be a candidate to start the All-Star Game. Tanaka limited the A’s to five hits and allowed just one walk with four strikeouts.
In the field
Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki may be past his prime, but he entered the game as a defensive substitue in the seventh and made a critical play in right field. He made a sliding catch on Moss’ low liner to right-center for the second out of the eighth, as the A’s had two runners aboard and looked poised to possibly tie the game.
The A’s head to Camden Yards to open a three-game series against the Orioles. Friday – Tommy Milone (3-3, 3.60) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (6-2, 4.26), 4:05 p.m. Saturday – Sonny Gray (6-1, 2.45) vs. TBA, 4:15 p.m. Sunday – Scott Kazmir (6-2, 2.40) s. Ubaldo Jimenez (2-6, 4.39), 10:35 a.m.