- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Once again, the New York Yankees threw the ball just fine - especially outfielder Aaron Hicks. It’s a lack of execution in the batter’s box and on the bases that has them off to a 5-8 start.

“I’m surprised,” manager Joe Girardi said. “There’s too much experience in that room, and I’m somewhat surprised.”

Kendall Graveman tossed three-hit ball into the seventh inning and struck out eight, pitching the Oakland Athletics past the slumping Yankees 5-2 on Wednesday night.

New York, batting .189 with runners in scoring position this season, has dropped six of seven and mustered only 15 runs during that stretch.

“We have to focus on doing the little things. Every at-bat is life or death. Got to relax, get a good pitch to hit and hit it,” said Alex Rodriguez, called out on strikes with the bases loaded to end the first.

“Look, it’s a long season. I have tremendous belief in our offense that we’re going to hit. There’s no question about it. We do have to tighten up and play good fundamental baseball.”

Didi Gregorius homered early for New York. But he also made an error at shortstop and a baserunning blunder that bothered Girardi and cost the Yankees at least one run as they were trying to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the seventh.

“It was a really bad read,” Gregorius said. “Stupid baserunning. … I tried to do too much.”

Billy Burns and Chris Coghlan hit consecutive doubles off Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi (0-2) to start a three-run fourth.

Josh Reddick had an RBI single and Stephen Vogt added a sacrifice fly, but Oakland third baseman Danny Valencia strained his left hamstring when he was cut down at the plate on Hicks’ rocket throw from medium-deep left field.

“He has to make a perfect throw - almost unheard of throw - to get me there and he did,” Valencia said.

The laser from Hicks, also a top-notch pitching prospect in high school, was clocked at 105.5 mph by Statcast, the fastest the system has recorded by an outfielder, according to Major League Baseball.

Without a backup infielder on his four-man bench, Oakland manager Bob Melvin moved Coghlan from second base to third and put designated hitter Jed Lowrie at second. That left the A’s without a DH and forced Graveman into Valencia’s cleanup slot.

So with a runner on second and two outs in the fifth, the Yankees intentionally walked Reddick to bring up Graveman for his first big league plate appearance. He managed one foul ball on a 97 mph heater but struck out on three pitches, becoming the first starting pitcher to bat at the current Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009.

“I didn’t show up to the park thinking I was going to get an at-bat,” Graveman said. “I hadn’t stepped in the box in eight years.”

On the mound, Graveman (1-1) wriggled out of a first-inning jam and gave up only Gregorius’ solo homer over 6 1/3 innings in his first outing at Yankee Stadium. The right-hander was obtained from Toronto in the November 2014 trade that sent reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays.

Carlos Beltran homered in the eighth, the only hit off A’s reliever Ryan Dull in 8 1/3 innings this season. Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.

“Right now we’re not scoring runs, so everything looks bad,” Girardi said.

Burns had three hits, Khris Davis delivered a two-run single in the eighth and Oakland stayed perfect in five road games this season. The only major league team that’s unbeaten away from home, the A’s have won four straight overall following a four-game slide.

FAVORITE FOE

Oakland improved to 15-6 against the Yankees since the start of 2013, the best record for an AL team vs. New York during that period.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: Melvin said Valencia won’t play Thursday night. “Hopefully it’s not a DL thing,” the manager said. … INF Eric Sogard had surgery on his left knee and is likely to be sidelined at least another six weeks.

Yankees: Brett Gardner was scratched from the lineup with a stiff neck and replaced in left field by Hicks, who batted ninth. Starlin Castro moved up to Gardner’s No. 2 spot in the lineup. Hicks also played Tuesday against a left-hander and could be in line for another start Thursday night against LHP Rich Hill.

UP NEXT

Athletics: Hill (1-2, 4.15 ERA) makes his fourth start for Oakland in the series finale. He has 19 strikeouts in 13 innings. New York had trouble against left-handed pitching last season and is 0-3 in games started by southpaws this year.

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (0-2, 5.91 ERA) looks to get on track in his third start of the year after going 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA as a 21-year-old rookie last season.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide