The high-priced New York Yankees spent the past four days becoming the latest supporting actor in what is starting to look like the real-life ”Moneyball” sequel.
Look out, runs don’t come cheap in Oakland anymore.
Seth Smith hit a tying homer in the ninth inning, Coco Crisp singled home the winning run in the 12th and the surging Athletics rallied from four runs down to stun the Yankees 5-4 on Sunday and complete a four-game sweep.
The Yankees, who remain the cash king with an opening-day payroll that topped $200 million for the fifth consecutive year, were swept in four games at the Coliseum for the first time by baseball’s most penny-pinching franchise. A pair of Yankees – slugger Alex Rodriguez ($30 million) and ace CC Sabathia ($24.3 million) – are making more money combined this year than the A’s entire payroll ($53 million).
”It’s tough to lose four games regardless of how it looks,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. ”We were playing pretty good coming in here but those guys have been playing good. They beat us four games. That’s all you can say. They’ve been playing well, they continue to play well and they’re playing with a lot of confidence.”
Smith homered to center with one out in the ninth off closer Rafael Soriano to help the A’s improve to 14-2 in July, the best record in the majors this month.
Derek Norris started the final rally with a one-out single off Jeter’s glove at shortstop. Jemile Weeks followed with a sacrifice bunt, setting the stage for Oakland’s major league-leading 11th walk-off win.
The AL East-leading Yankees had not been swept in a four-game series since May 2003 against Toronto. All four losses in Oakland were by one run.
”It’s no fun,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Crisp’s humpback liner to right field off Cody Eppley (0-2) scored Norris from second without a throw from Andruw Jones, who bobbled the ball as he tried to make the transfer. The A’s came streaming out of the dugout to celebrate their fifth straight victory, grabbing whipped cream pies that have become so routine concession workers behind the dugout already have them prepared.
”The music after the game. The pie in the face versus the shaving cream. It’s always a better feeling to win than to lose,” Crisp said. ”I guess that’s the thing that I like the most right now.”
Jerry Blevins (3-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory.
A year after Michael Lewis’ best-selling book ”Moneyball” – which chronicled the 2002 Athletics – hit the big screen and turned general manager Billy Beane into a starring role played by Brad Pitt, Oakland is suddenly back in the AL playoff chase again.
The A’s are in a three-way tie with Baltimore and the Los Angeles Angels for the two American League wild-card spots.
Brandon Inge and Kurt Suzuki hit solo home runs off Sabathia, who allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings to outlast former teammate Bartolo Colon.
But the surprising A’s delivered another win because of a dose of late dramatics.
Smith sent his 11th home run just over the 400-foot sign in center. It was the first homer of the season allowed by Soriano, who blew his second save in 26 chances this season while filling in for injured Mariano Rivera.
”Everybody has a bad day,” Soriano said. ”Today was the second time for me.”
The Yankees had chances to rally back.
After singles by Robinson Cano and Eric Chavez, Grant Balfour struck out Jeter looking for the final out of New York’s 10th inning.
Josh Reddick had trouble with Mark Teixeira’s fly ball in the sun in right field leading off the 12th. The ball glanced off Reddick’s glove for an error, and Teixeira slid in safely at second after shortstop Eric Sogard couldn’t handle the throw.
Blevins forced flyouts by Cano, Raul Ibanez and Chavez between an intentional walk to Rodriguez to keep the game tied.
Strong pitching carried Oakland all series – and has all month, really.
The Yankees chased Colon after he allowed eight hits and one intentional walk in 6 2-3 innings. Colon struck out five while tossing 84 pitches.
Teixeira blooped an RBI single to center for the fourth straight soft single to begin the third inning, and Rodriguez drove in a pair with a one-out double off the wall in left-center to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
Curtis Granderson followed with a two-out shot in the fourth – coming on an 0-2 pitch from Colon – that landed in the seats in right field for his 26th home run.
Inge and Suzuki each hit solo home runs to left in the fifth to slice New York’s lead to 4-2.
It was the third time this year that Sabathia, who grew up about 30 miles north of Oakland in Vallejo, has allowed two home runs in a game.
The A’s picked up another run in the sixth when Inge beat out a potential double play to allow Yoenis Cespedes to score.
The four-game sweep was a far cry from New York’s first visit to Oakland in late May when the Yankees overwhelmed the A’s in a three-game sweep to extend their winning streak at the Coliseum to nine games. That was part of a nine-game overall losing streak for the A’s, who have recovered to post the second-best record in the majors behind the Yankees since June 2.
NOTES: The Yankees open a three-game series at Seattle on Monday. … New York’s streak of 43 consecutive games with at least three runs – the longest in the majors since Cleveland’s 48-game run in 1994 – ended Friday night.
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