Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images The A’s Chad Pinder bolts out of the batter’s box after hitting a game-tying two-run double in the third inning Sunday.
OAKLAND – The A’s are hot. Not as hot as the 90-degree temperature that greeted first pitch, but hot enough to sweep the New York Yankees in a four-game series capped off by a 4-3 win Sunday.
Led by 6.1 strong innings from starter Jharel Cotton and the 18th homer off the bat of left fielder Khris Davis, the A’s pulled off their first series sweep of the year.
Oakland had gone 26 series without a sweep of any size, and to cut down the Yankees, the team with the second-best record in the American League, is more than a little impressive for a team that has the worst record in the AL at 31-38.
The sweep is part of a bigger picture in which the A’s have played reasonably well at home and appallingly poorly on the road. Oakland is now 22-13 at home and 9-25 away from the Coliseum.
Cotton, in quest of ending a streak of five consecutive starts without a win, created an early hole for himself when Matt Holliday homered in the second inning and Aaron Judge singled home a run in the third.
Yankees starter Luis Cessa got off to a better start, holding Oakland to just one base runner in the first two innings. Beginning with Josh Phegley’s one-out single in the third, the game changed.
Suddenly streaking Matt Joyce doubled to put two in scoring position and rookie shortstop Chad Pinder tied the game with a two run double.
With two out, Davis stepped in having hit just one homer in the last 18 games. On a 2-1 pitch from Cessa, that skid ended, Davis crushing a ball out to left-center as Oakland took a 4-2 lead.
Cotton was stung by a disputed fourth-inning Didi Gregorius homer. Gregorius’ high fly carried directly down the right field line and was ruled a homer. A’s manager Bob Melvin challenged it, but as most A’s challenges have gone this year, he needn’t have bothered. Gregorius’ homer was upheld and the A’s are now 4-12 in the 16 times they’ve challenged a call on the field.
He pitched into the seventh inning, getting the first out before Melvin turned to lefty Daniel Coulombe to finish off. Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth, setting up the ninth.
With Santiago Casilla having been winged by a foul ball Saturday and with Sean Doolittle having closed out Saturday’s win with a scoreless inning. Melvin opted to go with the left-handed Doolittle to finish up.
Doolittle had to work around a one-out two-base throwing error by rookie shortstop Pinder, but managed to close it out.
- Closer Santiago Casilla was winged Saturday by a foul ball while standing behind the low wall stat separates the playing field from the runway to the clubhouse. Casilla was hit on the upper left shoulder, but said while it was swollen, he was good to go. Even so, the experience wasn’t a pleasant one. “I was standing there to watch the game after they told me I had the day off,” Casilla said. “I was shocked to see that line drive. Sometimes I stand there, and nothing like that has happened before. I saw the ball come straight at me. I turned. I’ll have to be a little bit more careful. It’s a really great spot to watch the game and see it. I just have to be a little bit more aware of the ball. Melvin wasn’t 100 percent certain that he’d have Casilla available to pitch in the series finale Sunday. “His left shoulder is OK,” the manager said. “We’ll see how he feels as far as game action.”
- Andrew Triggs, who hasn’t pitched since developing high and back problems on the first game of the last road trip at Tampa Bay, has gotten a cortisone shot. The club and he have to wait and see if that improves his condition enough to start throwing again.
- Matt Joyce has started the last three games as the A’s leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching, and it’s the first time all year the A’s have gotten consistently good production from the leadoff spot, so it could well become an ongoing thing. He was 3-for-3 with two walks Saturday and had a leadoff home. On Friday he had two singles and a walk. “That’s the key,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It seems like he’s getting more comfortable in the leadoff spot. He’s swinging the bat better, and we know he’s going to get on base.” Joyce is 13-for-33 with six walks in his last 11 games, making for a .394 batting average and a .487 on-base percentage.
- Disabled starter Kendall Graveman is “starting to feel better when he plays catch,” Melvin said. “We’re not to the point where we can envision a bullpen session. Not yet. We are starting to see some progress.” Graveman is on the disabled list for the second time this season with a right shoulder strain.