The Athletics (74-53) continued to shut down the league’s top teams by completing a sweep of the Yankees (83-46) with a 5-3 win Thursday night.
The A’s, who won six of their last seven games against the Yankees and the Astros, are now a season-high 21 games over .500. This streak has also propelled the A’s to hold the American League’s top Wild Card spot.
While Aaron Judge hit an early double in the top of the first inning, three strikeouts by starting right-hander Tanner Roark (W, 8-8, 3.95 ERA) quickly paved the way for the A’s offense to get to work. Roark said:
“What I think I do well is challenging guys. Like, Judge, 3-1, fastball. See what he can do. It gives me a chance, how my fastball was tonight, to have him roll over something, get an easy out or something like that.”
From the top of the batting order, shortstop Marcus Semien began hit a double to begin a productive inning for the A’s. Consecutive walks to left fielder Robbie Grossman and third baseman Matt Chapman loaded the bases. First baseman Matt Olson’s single brought Semien in from third. This was the first time the A’s opened the scoring this series. Olson to reached second off a wild pitch, which center fielder Mark Canha capitalized on with a single to bring both Grossman and Olson home for a 3-0 lead.
The Yankees looked to break through in the top of the second, but Olson created a double play after picking up a bouncing ball and quickly turning to throw to Semien at second base. Roark recorded four strikeouts in the first two innings.
Grossman started the bottom of the third inning with a triple off the center field wall. Chapman followed up with an RBI single into left field to extend the lead to 4-0. Bob Melvin said:
“This is probably [Grossman’s] best stretch of the year … that’s why against righties we have him in the two-hole. He can get on base with Chapman and Olson behind him, they’re knocking him in a lot.”
Singles by Olson and Canha advanced Chapman to third, then Stephen Piscotty’s single brought Olson across to make it a 5-0 lead. All of the A’s runs came against Yankees starting right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (L, 9-7, 4.68 ERA).
In the top of the seventh inning, a solo home run by Torres cut the A’s lead down to 5-2. The Yankees’ second unanswered run ended Roark’s night, who struckout seven batters through 6-1/3 innings. With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Torres tacked on his second home run (31).
“We really have the ability to have a really deep bullpen … in series where you’re leaning on a couple of guys, like we did on [Yusmeiro Petit] and [Liam Hendriks] this series, it’s going to take some other guys, and they came through for us.”
While the A’s are now in the first wildcard spot, the Tampa Bay Rays (75-54) and the Cleveland Indians (74-54) are close behind with just over a month left in the regular season. Canha said:
“The fact that you keep looking at the scoreboard and the Rays keep winning, it just tells you, we have to play well for five more weeks … This is going to be a dog fight and we got to keep doing this for five more weeks … we’re not in this to slip into the wildcard and play a wildcard game. We’re in this to win the World Series.”
The A’s finish their homestand by hosting the Giants on Saturday and Sunday.
Matt Chapman broke his 0-for-12 hitting streak with an RBI single. … The A’s improved to 4-26 in games where they did not hit a home run.