Three days ago, the Yankees were flying high on their way to the West Coast. They’d won five of six since the All-Star break, had just swept the Blue Jays and had the best record in baseball since June 2. They were beginning to run away with the American League East and might have felt like the hottest team in baseball.
But they’ve since run into the actual hottest team in baseball, and the result has been three straight one-run losses here in Oakland.
“It’s disappointing,” Mark Teixeira said. “You got to give them credit. We’ve been scoring a lot of runs (lately), so you’re almost due for a couple days where you’re not scoring. Doesn’t make it any easier. … Our pitchers are doing a great job, but we’re just not coming up with any runs for them.”
The A’s are 7-1 since the All-Star break, 12-2 in the month of July and they’re staying afloat in the American League West because a largely anonymous pitching staff is leading the American League in ERA. The Yankees might have the best record in baseball since June 2, but the A’s are only a half game behind them in that span.
Following the lead of A.J. Griffin and Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker was outstanding tonight. He scattered five hits — all of them singles — through eight innings. Phil Hughes only made two mistakes tonight, and those home runs were the difference in the game because Parker let the Yankees manufacture just one run. They scored three runs on Thursday, two on Friday and just one tonight.
“There are some talented kids over there and they’re throwing the ball well,” Joe Girardi said. “Any time you get good pitching, you have a chance to win. You don’t have to score a lot of runs when you get good pitching.”
Hughes didn’t give up many runs, but the home runs to Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Inge were enough. Hughes allowed just two other hits tonight, but he was saddled with his eighth loss of the season while pitching through the seventh inning for the fourth time in his past five starts.
“Here we have the luxury, when you do pitch like that, we normally win,” Hughes said. “Just didn’t work out tonight.”
• Hughes looked good tonight. He hadn’t started a game in this stadium since 2010 when he allowed one hit and struck out 10 through 7.1 stellar innings. He wasn’t quite as good this time, but he certainly deserved a better result. “I thought he threw the ball really well,” Girardi said. “He gave up the two solo shots, and usually that’s not going to beat you over the course of a game. We’ve had a tough time scoring some runs out here. He pitched a great game.”
• Between the Cespedes home run and the Inge home run, Hughes allowed no hits and walked two, one of which was erased with a double play. Girardi said he would have brought Dave Robertson in to pitch the eighth had the Yankees taken a lead, but with the game tied, he liked the way Hughes was pitching. Hughes stayed in and gave up the Inge game-winner. “He was still throwing the ball good,” Girardi said.
• Hughes on the Inge homer: “Everybody says you get the ball down, but I kind of like the ball to ride up on him a little more. That one was down. He likes the ball down, and in the past I’ve gotten him out a lot kind of in the belly button region. I don’t want to say it was too far down, but it kind of was. That’s the way it goes.”
• Hughes on the Cespedes homer: “(Trying to go) away. That ball leaked over the plate, and he can really hit. Trying to be careful with him, and anything over the plate, he puts a good swing on. He’s a good player.”
• Hard not to notice that Hughes was having some success with his changeup tonight. “There’s some guys in that lineup that the opportunity presented itself to throw some more changeups,” he said. “I got some big outs with it. It was good. I thought I commanded the ball pretty well tonight. Just two mistakes.”
• Also hard not to notice that Hughes thought the Inge homer was a popup. He pointed to the sky as if giving someone a heads up on where the ball was, then he turned to watch it leave the park. “I thought he just hit it really good and really high, to be honest,” Hughes said. “Looking back on the replay it’s kind of silly because he hit it pretty good. I had no second thoughts about going about that at-bat any other way. I was just trying to get him out with fastballs. I’ve done it before. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”
• Parker has a big fastball and a good changeup. He’s a more powerful pitcher than the guys who shutdown the Yankees the previous two nights. “Kept the ball down, kept you off balance just enough with that changeup for lefties,” Teixeira said. “Could get up to 95 when he wanted to, and then if he needed a groundball, he’d throw that 92 mph sinker. That’s really good stuff.”
• Robinson Cano’s hitting streak ended at 24 games. He said it was never one his mind. “Honestly, no,” he said. “I just go out there and try to get a hit every at-bat. I don’t put it in my mind that I’ve got a hitting streak or something like that. But I go out there and try to get on base.”
• Cano was one game away from tying Derek Jeter’s 2006 hitting streak. Cano’s streak was the longest for a Yankee since Jeter’s.
• Final word comes from Girardi, who said he doesn’t fault the Yankees offensive approach during these past three games. “I’m satisfied (with the approach),” he said. “In the first six innings, there wasn’t a lot of offense. I think that had a little bit to do with the shadows, too, today. It’s tough when those shadows are like that in the beginning. I’m not taking anything away from Parker, but as you saw, there weren’t a lot of hits. I’m satisfied. Look at the first inning; if that ball goes over Weeks’ head, we’ve got a run right away and probably a guy at second with one out. He makes a great play. You move on.”
Associated Press photos