- Last Updated: 7:43 PM, July 23, 2012
- Posted: 12:45 AM, July 23, 2012
OAKLAND — All of the Yankees’ flaws were exposed in this four-game series against the young, upstart, pitching-rich, living-right A’s.
The Yankees couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it. They couldn’t get the big out, either. Their defense was sloppy while the youthful A’s made the most of their opportunities.
The only plus was that this didn’t happen in October, but unless the Yankees fix their flaws, the pitfalls will again hurt the Yankees when it matters most.
The A’s swept away the Yankees in a four-game series, winning again in walk-off fashion, 5-4 at O.co Coliseum on Coco Crisp’s two-out single in the bottom of the 12th.
That marked the 11th walk-off win of the year for the A’s, who no longer fear the Yankees. And it came after the Yankees failed to take advantage of a gift in the top of the inning when right-fielder Josh Reddick dropped Mark Teixeira’s lead-off fly ball for a two-base error.
As the Yankees, who blew a 4-0 lead with their ace CC Sabathia on the mound and their bullpen perfectly lined up, made their way to Seattle last night, there was much to think about. This sweep was based on strong pitching and a young team finding the will to win, including getting a one-out tying home run to dead center in the ninth from Seth Smith off closer Rafael Soriano.
Each loss was by one run. That tells you a lot about the Yankees’ lack of clutch hitting, and a lot about the A’s young arms.
“We just need to score more runs,’’ Teixeira said. “We’re just one or two hits away each day from being where we need to be, so you learn from it.’’
The Yankees must learn from these four flawed games.
If any of this sounds familiar, think back to last October when they Yankees were bounced in the first round by the Tigers. Those three losses came by the scores of 5-3, 5-4 and 3-2. It doesn’t matter that the Yankees won two games in that series by a combined score of 19-4.
Good pitching has a way of shutting down these Yankees and after three rookie starters throttled the Yankees in the first three games, the Yankees had a chance to crush veteran Bartolo Colon, but could not add to their 4-0 lead.
With Nick Swisher down, too, the outfield looks mighty thin. Andruw Jones, who came on as a pinch-hitter in the 11th, struck out again — the sixth straight time he’s whiffed.
Alex Rodriguez ripped a two-run double in the three-run third, but struck out three times and lined to left to end the seventh with runners on first and second. “I thought it was another double,’’ Rodriguez said.
In that fateful 12th, Robinson Cano flied to center, A-Rod was intentionally walked and Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez both popped up as the Yankees finished 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
When opportunity knocked, the A’s answered in the bottom of the 12th with Crisp lining an RBI single off loser Cody Eppley, giving the A’s only their second four-game sweep over the Yankees in the last 98 years.
The Yankees came away totally impressed with the A’s young pitching.
“I’m very impressed,” Teixeira said. “These guys always seem to have great young pitchers and then as soon as they get two or three years, they ship them off. I don’t know where they get these guys from. It’s like every year they bring in three or four new young stud pitchers. They have some sort of formula. Give them a lot of credit. They do a great job of developing pitching.’’
Billy Beane’s Moneyball is again money.
“Everything they’re doing is working out well,’’ Rodriguez said. “We have to get a little better timely hitting.’’
That’s the Yankees’ biggest flaw. That must be corrected or else these Yankees will again come up short when it matters most.