OAKLAND -- The A's bested the Yankees in the first installment of a potential Wild Card Game preview Monday afternoon.
Trevor Cahill wasn't his sharpest in the early goings, but neither was his counterpart, and the A's took advantage, tagging Carsten Sabathia for five runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings in a crucial 6-3 win at the Coliseum, which pulled Oakland within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees for the top American League Wild Card spot.
Home-field advantage for the Oct. 3 winner-take-all game is at stake; it's an especially enticing incentive for these A's, who are undoubtedly aided by a raucous Coliseum crowd.
See: Monday. The A's drew 40,000-plus.
"They're just looking to go out and win, celebrate it afterwards, and move on to the next day," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We had a big crowd today, and that always is pretty inspiring. Our fans are really loud, so that's a little extra help, especially grinding on 18 with two more to go here with 20 in a row, and the guys are feeling it a little bit."
The A's, who remained 2 1/2 games behind first-place Houston in the AL West, are riding a banged-up rotation through September, while the Yankees are operating without key lineup contributors Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius, the heart of their order consisting of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Miguel Andujar these days. The A's held all three hitless in the Labor Day opener, doing their part at the plate from the get-go.
After catcher Jonathan Lucroy's throwing error led to an unearned run in the first inning, the A's got it back when Matt Chapman, Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty teamed up for four straight singles with one out in the home half. Matt Olson also drew a bases-loaded walk in the three-run frame.
A shutdown inning eluded Cahill in the second, when Luke Voit shook him for a game-tying, two-run homer, but he rounded into form just in time, after the A's regained the lead for good in the second on Chapman's RBI double.
Lowrie notched a run-scoring single for his second hit of the day in the fourth, and Mark Canha launched a solo shot in the fifth, his 16th of the season. Cahill, meanwhile, got through five innings without further damage and turned the ball over to a shutdown bullpen.
"When he's on, he knows where it's going, and he really didn't the first couple innings," Melvin said. "The next thing you know he gives us five, so he was able to get it under control and that's what veteran guys are typically able to do."
Cahill subsequently earned his first career win against the Yankees, the only AL team he had yet to defeat in 10 big league seasons.
"I didn't want to bring that up, but I knew that, so definitely more adrenaline," Cahill said, smiling. "I just wanted to pitch well against them, and I was able to get the ball to the bullpen."
Closer Blake Treinen shut the door with his 36th save, all the while lowering his ERA to 0.91, which is tops among Major League relievers.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lefty Ryan Buchter inherited a pair of runners with one out in the seventh when he was brought in to face pinch-hitter Neil Walker. Buchter ran the count full before striking him out, then got Brett Gardner to fly out and end the inning -- one that's typically reserved for Fernando Rodney, who was unavailable.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
After Cahill was lifted at 75 pitches, right-hander Lou Trivino was handed a tough assignment in the sixth. The fireballer responded by striking out the Yankees' heart, getting Stanton, Hicks and Andujar in a most impressive display.
"I know lately I've been struggling, not being as aggressive in the zone and throwing a lot of pitches, so for me I'm trying to get back to where I was within my delivery, and I felt good today," Trivino said. "That's the heart of the order. Those guys are really good hitters, so to be able to do that, it's definitely a boost of confidence."
"I don't do him any favors," Melvin said.."For a young guy, he's either the fireman with guys on base or a lot of times has to go through the middle of the order. This is becoming a long season for him, but after a little bit of a rocky period, which everyone is going to have, he's really responded recently, not only pitching in the fashion he has but clean innings, too. When you have stuff like that, you should feel confident."
HE SAID IT
"I remember them being tough in May, even though it wasn't rolling yet. I remember coming away really impressed with who they had. Obviously they have had some core guys emerge as front-line players. They're tough. It's obviously a tough lineup to go through. With the additions they've made to the bullpen and guys that have really emerged down there, they do a good job of shortening the game because they can really match up. You know you have to play well to beat these guys." -- Yankees manager Aaron Boone
The A's and Yankees will resume play at the Coliseum on Tuesday. Oakland will use right-handed reliever Liam Hendriks as the "opener" in the 7:05 p.m. PT showdown with lefty J.A. Happ (15-6, 4.00 ERA). Oakland righty Frankie Montas is among those expected to follow Hendriks.