By Howard Goldin
Bronx, NY---The Yankees lost to the Oakland Athletics 7-4 on Wednesday night, a game in which they blew a 4-0 lead. They have lost four in a row and 12 of their last 16 games overall at Yankee Stadium. The combination of poor hitting, especially in the clutch, and lack of dependability from the relief corps, has resulted in many recent defeats.
The Yankees got that 4-0 lead in the third inning. It started with a base on balls to Ichiro Suzuki followed by three consecutive hits, a single by Brett Gardner, an infield single by Derek Jeter, and a three-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury.
Unfortunately for the home team, the third was the only inning in which the Yankees scored. During their final five frames, the Yankees only managed two singles. To make matters worse for them, the Athletics scored seven unanswered runs to achieve a victory.
The Oakland scoring started when Cuban native Yoenis Cespedes homered in the fourth for Oakland’s first run, and hit another homer, his 12th of the season to tie it at 4. Cespedes simply said through a translator, “We never give up.”
Third baseman Josh Donaldson lifted his 16th into the stands in the seventh off Jose Ramirez, who was making his major-league debut, to make it 5-4 Oakland. Ramirez said through a translator, “I was a little nervous. I really wasn’t thinking about pitching tonight but I knew the chance would be there because of our bullpen situation.”
Wade LeBlanc also made his Yankee debut, as he came in for the ninth. He had a tough outing, as he gave up singles to Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson, then walked Derek Norris to load the bases. LeBlanc then hit Brandon Moss with a pitch to force in a run. Kyle Blanks capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-4 Oakland.
Yankee starter Vidal Nuño gave up two runs in 4.2 innings, but the relievers gave up five in 4.1. Matt Daley gave up two, Leblanc surrendered two, and in his major league debut, Jose Ramirez yielded a home run to Donaldson in the seventh, which earned him the loss. Yankee skipper Joe Girardi said, “It’s a product of not having your bullpen set up the way you want it.”
Girardi also said of the offense, “We had our chances to add on and we weren’t able to do it. The guys are doing everything they can, but right now we just aren’t getting it done.”
Sean Doolittle got the save for Oakland and he said of the A’s, “I think there’s the sense of the way we play that we have something to prove. We’ve got a little bit of a chip on our shoulder, small-market team, and we don’t get a ton of national publicity. And when we get a chance to play against the Yankees on a big stage in their ballpark, guys step up.”
Passing of Don Zimmer - Of far more importance than the loss of a single ballgame was the death of Don Zimmer at the age of 83. The feisty, colorful, knowledgeable and fun loving individual was a fixture in MLB for 66 years. He was remembered with much emotion by those who knew him well for his time as a Yankee coach. After the game, Girardi recalled, “I was with him in 10 of my first 11 years. Wherever he went, I went. He was a close friend. I’m going to miss him. Our relationship was always close. He gave me my first opportunity. It’s going to be really strange not to see him.”
Another scene of the evening at Yankee Stadium that had greater meaning than the final score was the thoughtful treatment received by 12 year-old Matthew Miller of Queens and his family by CC Sabathia. Miller was severely injured and his 7 year-old brother Chris killed in a house fire at the start of 2014. Sabathia tried to provide some happy memories for the family who came as his guests for on-the-field activities.