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Postgame notes: “It’s a stumbling block”

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The Yankees clubhouse is never loud after a loss, but it’s rarely as quiet as it’s been these past two nights. This series has been a stunning, unexpected blow to a team that seemed to be rolling when it flew out of New York four days ago.

“You don’t expect to lose a series, even, the way we’ve been playing,” Mark Teixeira said. “We feel like we’ve been playing some really good baseball. It’s just disappointing to lose four in a row.”

Four losses by a total of four runs. Two walk-offs. One game-winning homer in the eighth. The A’s are 8-1 since the All-Star break, 14-2 in the month of July, and today’s win gave them baseball’s best record since June 2 (a half game better than the Yankees).

“They’re dangerous right now,” Alex Rodriguez said. “They’re in a situation where they feel that they’re in a game, that they can win every game, and we know the feeling. For us, it’s a stumbling block. Just have to go back to Seattle and get back on a winning streak.”

The Yankees pitched well this series, but the offense never scored more than four runs. Today they had a 4-0 lead, then went eight straight innings without scoring. Those eight innings including three innings in which the Yankees left a runner at second base. In the 12th, Josh Reddick lost a fly ball in the sun, putting a runner at second base with no outs and the heart of the order coming to the plate. That runner went no where.

“Those are the opportunities that, when we’re playing really good baseball, that’s almost an automatic run for us,” Rodriguez said.

For the Yankees, this weekend felt a long way from really good baseball.

[3]• Rafael Soriano hadn’t allowed a home run this season before Seth Smith went deep to center field in the ninth inning. It was only Soriano’s second blown save of the season. “I don’t have an excuse for that,” Soriano said. “It’s one pitch. The guy, I don’t think he hit it that good. He hit a home run. Right now, all four games, the team is struggling, but we’ll come back to Seattle and try to play better. … Everybody has bad days. Today was the second time I had a tie game in the ninth. So what? Come back tomorrow and try to go 1-2-3.”

• What’s with the Yankees pitchers thinking homers are popups out here? Phil Hughes did it yesterday. Soriano did it tonight (on a ball that went out to dead center). “I thought it was a popup,” Soriano said. “When I saw Granderson go back and hit (the wall), I said, ‘All right.’ I tried to come back and make the other two guys out, see the team come back.”

• The A’s 12th inning started with a sharp groundball that got past Derek Jeter at shortstop. “It just kicked up,” Jeter said. “It hugged the ground pretty much the whole way and bounced up at the last second.”

• The ball past Jeter came six innings after Jayson Nix — playing shortstop at the time — couldn’t get the ball out of his glove to start what should have been an inning-ending double play. “When you don’t make a play that should be made, it’s frustrating,” Nix said. “The way the game ends doesn’t change it at all. Whether we won by a lot, it doesn’t change it. … I just didn’t transfer it cleanly.”

• By the way, Nix isn’t hurt or anything. Jeter was in at the end of the game for defense.

• It was Teixeira who reached on that 12th-inning error. If the Yankees were going to win this game, it needed to happen there, but Jerry Blevins got through a second scoreless inning for his third win of the year. “You feel like you had a chance to steal a run there,” Teixeira said. “But give their guy credit, he made some really good pitches. He’s a funky pitcher, a lefty who’s long, he throws his arms and legs at you, and it’s just tough to see his pitches.”

[4]• Four-run lead after four innings with CC Sabathia on the mound. That’s gotta be a win, right? “We felt pretty good about it,” Rodriguez said. “We have the big fella on the mound, who threw the ball great again for two consecutive games. For us it’s important – especially against a team that hot – to keep adding those runs on. Today we just couldn’t get it done.”

• Speaking of Sabathia, he was pretty good again today, and he was especially happy with his changeup. “Felt pretty good,” Sabathia said. “I was throwing everything for strikes, threw the ball in well. I think that opened everything up and the change up was better again, two starts in a row. … I backed it a couple times, got some pop ups, some early ground balls. Go out and just keep working on it and hopefully it gets better.”

• Kurt Suzuki snapped a 78-game homerless stretch with his solo shot off Sabathia. It was Suzuki’s fourth career homer off Sabathia. “I just think every time I make a mistake he’s right on it,” Sabathia said. “Hopefully the next time I see him I won’t make that same mistake.”

• We’ll give the final word to Jeter: “It’s tough. It’s tough to lose four games regardless of how it looks. You know, we were playing pretty good coming in here. Those guys have been playing good. They beat us four games, that’s all you can say. They’ve been playing well, they continue to play well, and they’re playing with a lot of confidence.”

Associated Press photos