by Howie Karpin/The NY Extra/thenyextra.com
Maybe, just maybe this is the start of a turnaround for the Yankees.
In a game that appeared to be headed for disaster, the Yankees completed a memorable game ending triple play on Father’s Day afternoon as they held on and beat the Oakland A’s, 2-1 at Yankee Stadium.
Gary Sanchez continued his resurgence of late as he drove in both runs with a two run double in the sixth. Sanchez had two of the Yankees’ three hits (both doubles) and is on quite a tear of late.
Sanchez made an adjustment with his lower body and that has paid dividends. The talented, but previously under performing catcher, has not had a stretch like this since 2017. He’s hitting .333 (20 for 60) in his last 17 games and his batting average has gone from .186 to .229. In that 17-game span, Sanchez’ slugging percentage has increased from .372 to .475 and his OPS has gone from .680 to .800.
Closer Aroldis Chapman was brought on for the save in the ninth but he was clearly not himself. Chapman walked Jed Lowrie (remember him Met fans) on five pitches after starting him off with three sliders that missed. He walked Tony Kemp on four pitches (last two were sliders) to put runners on first and second with nobody out.
After a meeting on the mound with Manager Aaron Boone and the trainer, Chapman remained in the game and got A’s catcher Sean Murphy to ground a 1-0 pitch to Gio Urshela, who stepped on third, threw to D.J. LeMahieu at second, who then relayed the throw to first to Chris Gittens to complete a game ending triple play.
“He [Chapman] was just dealing with a little nail issue. It was sorta bugging him but he felt like he was fine to pitch, Boone said on the post game zoom. “Even though, he obviously wasn’t throwing strikes, I didn’t feel like he was non competitive or just ‘we gotta get him out of here and he absolutely felt like wanted to stay in, I just told him to throw the sinker for the three-ball and let’s get on with it.”
The Yankees tied a major league record with their third triple play of the season. Two have come in the last four days and all three have occurred within the last four weeks. “I got a pretty good line of sight to it. As soon as he hit the ball, usually a triple play sneaks up on ‘ya, right away, I’m thinking, ‘that’s a triple play.’ Sure enough, Gio [Urshela] does a great job, perfect feed, D.J’s [LeMahieu] able to turn it over,” Boone said.
Jordan Montgomery was solid in keeping the Yankees in the game because they weren’t doing much with the A’s best pitcher, Sean Manaea. The talented Oakland left hander was dominant for 5 1/3 innings as he struck out 11 Yankees but they were finally able to break through in the sixth.
Clint Frazier walked on a 3-2 pitch to lead off. After D.J. LeMahieu was called out on strikes, Manaea was called for a balk, moving Frazier to second. Aaron Judge walked, bringing up the red hot Sanchez, who smoked a double to right center field to score two and give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
Montgomery allowed a two out, solo home run to A’s first-baseman Matt Olson with two out in the first, but he was solid until the sixth when a walk and a single put two on with one out. After the game, the 28-year old southpaw downplayed his outing, although the Yankees wouldn’t have been able to come from behind without it. “Had a couple of good innings. Threw that heater to Olson. It was a 1-0 pitch, just wanted to throw an aggressive fastball, he got it,” Montgomery said on the post game zoom.
Jonathan Loaisiga relieved Montgomery in the sixth, snuffed out the rally on two ground outs and then pitched a scoreless seventh.
A’s third-baseman Matt Chapman just missed a game tying home run in the eighth on a ball that eluded the leaping Frazier in left field and was at third with one out. Lucas Luetge, who began the inning, struck out Olson and got Ramon Laureano on a fly out to end the inning.
The Yankees have won five of six and are 38-33, third place in the AL East, four behind the second place Rays, who have dropped six straight games and 4 ½ behind the first place Red Sox.
This was an important win because it gave the Yankees two out of three against a real good Oakland team and it helps them continue their upward climb that they started in Buffalo last week against the Toronto Blue Jays.
With 10 of their next 13 games at home, and a big three game series at Fenway Park against Boston sandwiched in-between next weekend, this is an opportunity to for the Yankees to get their “minds right.”
Is this the start of a turnaround? Stay tuned. Things have gotten a little more interesting of late.