Karpin’s Korner: Yanks’ Momentum Run Over By the A’s Train

by Howie Karpin/The NY Extra/

If the Yankees hope to turn this season around, they better start soon because they could be running out of chances.

Failing to capitalize on the momentum from a three game, road sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees dropped a 5-3 decision to the red hot Oakland A’s at Yankee Stadium last night. The A’s have won seven in a row and 13 of their last 15 games.

Including last night, the Yankees are scheduled to play 13 of their next 16 games at home but they haven’t exactly been feasting on home cooking. At Yankee Stadium this season, the Yankees are 17-17 and last night was not the way they wanted to start this pivotal stretch of their season.

“Of course, you want to kick off the home stand with a win. In some of these games, obviously you’re up against a good opponent, razor thin. Two outs, nobody on, looking like you’re gonna get out of that inning. There’s obviously frustration that we didn’t pull one out tonight,” Yankee manager Aaron Boone said on the post game zoom .

“That inning” was the sixth when Oakland’s light hitting outfielder Tony Kemp hit his 18th career home run, a crushing, two out, three-run shot that gave the A’s a 5-3 lead. Home runs by D.J. LeMahieu in the third and Rougned Odor in the fifth had given the Yankees a 3-2 lead but the left handed hitting Kemp, who had only two career home runs against a left handed pitcher, lifted a hanging slider from southpaw Wandy Peralta into the lower right field stands.

“Just couldn’t finish him (Kemp) off,” Boone said. “Retires the first two, then two singles, and then he’s 0-2 on Kemp. Looked like he just hung a pitch as Kemp got back into the count and obviously, that turned out to be the difference.”

Former Yankee James Kapriellian (who went to Oakland in the Sonny Gray trade at the July trade deadline in 2017) pitched into the sixth inning, giving up three runs on three hits to earn the win.

Kapriellian hides the ball well and his slider kept the Yankees hitters off balance. The 27-year old right hander’s only mistakes were the two home runs.“We didn’t mount a whole lot against him,” Boone said.

In the three game sweep of the Jays, the Yankees took full advantage of Toronto’s inept bullpen but the A’s bullpen is a step up. Oakland’s relief corps of Yusmeiro Petit, Jake Diekman and Lou Trivino limited the Yankees to two base runners in 3 1/3 scoreless innings. The Yankees had only two runners reach second base for the entire game and were 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position.

Yankees’ starting pitcher Jamison Taillon bounced back from his previous start when he couldn’t get out of the first inning. Taillon went 4 2/3 and gave up two runs on four hits.

Taillon has had problems putting hitters away and that trend bit him in the first inning when A’s first-baseman Matt Olson homered on a 0-2 pitch to give the A’s a 1-0 lead. “In the past, I think I’ve looked at a two strike situation and I thought of, what does the scouting report call for right here, where do I need to throw this ball,” Taillon said on the post game zoom. “Tonight, it was more like, ‘I’ve got two strikes, it’s time to get nasty.”

Unfortunately, the slider that Taillon threw to Olson was not nasty. It hung in the middle of the plate and the A’s first-baseman did what good hitters do with that pitch. From there, Taillon only allowed a Mark Canha RBI single in the third before LeMahieu’s home run tied the game at two.

Nonetheless, Boone saw a much better performance overall from Taillon, who pitched a little more aggressively than in the past. “I thought he was a lot better. I thought the stuff was better overall,” said Boone. “I thought he incorporated a lot of two seam fastballs to go with his four seam, to give some different looks there. His breaking ball was a little better, used his slider a little bit more. I think he featured more things, I thought he threw the ball well.”

Taillon got the first two outs of the fifth, sandwiched around a walk, but with the left handed hitting Olson, who had already homered and due up as the go ahead run, Boone wanted the left hander Peralta. “I just felt like we had the match ups there and get it to the end with our guys, obviously didn’t work out in the end,” Boone said.

Peralta got ahead 0-2 and then threw two change ups to Kemp before he went with the slider which is not his best pitch.“It was 2-2 against Kemp and I was thinking my pitch, down and away and get out of that inning,” Peralta said through an interpreter. “Unfortunately I missed my spot and that’s what happens here in the big leagues. You miss your spot with big league hitters, you pay the price.”

The Yankees realize the task at hand and that’s getting their season turned around in a hurry. It’s mid-June and they may be running out of chances.

Listen to Karpin’s Korner, the internet radio show. Tuesday nights, 7 pm eastern time on the 365 Sportscast Network.

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