The game began with much promise. The first inning flew by, and the A’s jumped in front in the second. Khris Davis worked a 3-2 walk, Yonder doubled, and Ryon Healy drove them both in. Healy is credited with a single on the play, although he tried to stretch it into a double and was caught by a strong throw from Brett Gardner. Healy was called safe on the field, but the Yankees challenged, and the call was (correctly) overturned. Still, it feels like the A’s haven’t been on the right side of many challenges this season.
Andrew Triggs wasn’t as good as his simple stat line would indicate, but he wasn’t nearly as bad as one might have thought watching the game. The Yanks struck back almost immediately, cutting the A’s lead in half in the bottom of the second, but the real damage was yet to come. After going out quickly in the top of the third, and after a pair of singles and a bad error by Matt Joyce, Triggs and company quickly found themselves in a one-out, bases loaded situation.
But you could almost see the A’s working out of it. Triggs quickly dispatched with Starlin Castro, striking him out on three pitches, and even though perhaps the mightiest of the Baby Bombers was coming to the plate, it felt like Triggs would do what Triggs does and induce weak contact and the inning’s final out. But things didn’t quite work out that way. Anyone who demurred on whether Judge’s 6’7 frame would play in the major leagues has been sorely mistaken, and the A’s were again hurt by Judge’s power on Sunday as he added four runs with a single swing of the bat.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 28, 2017
Triggs’s pitch wasn’t that bad. It was belt-high and on the outer third. But Judge went with the pitch nicely, and while he didn’t hit it flush, he got just enough to muscle it out to right centerfield. To his credit, Triggs continued to battle, completing six innings in surprisingly efficient form, throwing only 88 pitches. Barring the Joyce error (and of course assuming everything else would have played out exactly as it did) Triggs would never have faced Judge in the third and who knows how the game would have turned out.
But as this game turned out, the A’s couldn’t keep pace with the again-aptly nicknamed Bronx Bombers. The A’s continue to lose in a frustrating way – doing enough positive things to keep some semblance of hope in your heart – but were again plagued by a lackluster bullpen and unacceptable defensive errors.
Judge’s grand slam didn’t have to be the end of the game; there were still six innings left. And as it turned out, the A’s would score enough to make up for it. But when big innings happen, you have to lock up shop and stop the other team from continuing to pile on. It’s very hard to win when you allow nine runs. After Judge’s grand slam, the Yankees continued to accumulate – a run here, two runs there, another run over here.
The A’s have a bright future. I genuinely believe that. Sonny Gray and Yonder Alonso are turning into players who can return a solid package, maybe even more than what Hill/Reddick brought last July. The high minors seem loaded. Not all of these prospects will turn out, but even with the considered, the A’s should be able to count on 2-3 position players and a couple of pitchers to contribute from our current minors class very soon. And I don’t think enough is made of how good Healy and our current crop of young starting pitchers could be.
But rosy as the future may be, the present continues to boggle the mind. Today’s game wasn’t lost because of Judge’s home run. It wasn’t lost in a moment. It was lost because the A’s were again incapable of becoming a fortress when they had to. Today’s game was lost because the Yankees scored in five of the eight innings they batted in.
These problems are not new. I write about them every Sunday, and you comment about them every day. But they won’t be fixed in the blink of an eye, and frustrating as it is, I’m afraid these problems will be omnipresent for the rest of this season.