NEW YORK -- The anemic batting average displayed in 10-foot-tall, high-definition numbers during each of Neil Walker's plate appearances seemed impossible to ignore, but throughout his slow start to the season, his confidence was not shaken. Believing fiercely in his track record and ability, the veteran was certain that the
NEW YORK -- The anemic batting average displayed in 10-foot-tall, high-definition numbers during each of Neil Walker's plate appearances seemed impossible to ignore, but throughout his slow start to the season, his confidence was not shaken. Believing fiercely in his track record and ability, the veteran was certain that the hits would begin to fall.
A prominent piece of the team's recent winning ways, Walker delivered again on Saturday afternoon, connecting for an 11th-inning single that lifted the Yankees to their fourth walk-off victory in the last three weeks. New York's 7-6 win over the Athletics at Yankee Stadium is its 18th win in 21 games.
"I think it speaks to the resiliency in this room," Walker said. "Not just the talent level, but the mindset that we're never out of a game. No lead is too big to overcome. That was the case today."
Walker's knock off Chris Hatcher continued a hot stretch for the switch-hitter, who is 9-for-25 with eight walks in his last nine games after hitting .163 through his first 80 at-bats of the season.
Walker said that his hit paled in comparison to the relief work by A.J. Cole, who pitched for the first time since April 28 and picked up the win by blanking the A's over two scoreless innings.
"This team is unbelievable. They never give up," Cole said. "I went out there and I gave it everything I had, because I know they're doing the same. I didn't want to let them down. It's all about staying ready. Every day, you've got to be ready to go in there."
Walker's clean single to center field chased home Gary Sanchez with the winning run, two innings after Sanchez brushed Matt Olson's back with a tag on the back end of an inning-ending double play. That play allowed the Yankees to survive Albertin Chapman's three-walk inning without damage; Olson was initially ruled safe, but the call at home plate was challenged by the Yanks and overturned by review.
Trailing by four runs in the fifth inning, the Yankees tied the score by batting around against a trio of Oakland pitchers. Aaron Judge hit his team-leading 11th homer, and A's starter Andrew Triggs was removed three batters later, a sequence that included Didi Gregorius singling to snap an 0-for-30 slump. Walker and Miguel Andujar added RBI singles off Danny Coulombe and Ryan Dull, respectively.
"I know we're going to keep grinding out at-bats, and I know with our guys, we're only a big swing or two from being right back into it," manager Aaron Boone said. "I don't know if you're ever comfortable down four runs, but I know the guys are going to keep on competing. That's what they did."
Sanchez and Aaron Hicks hit back-to-back home runs off Triggs in the second inning, marking the first time that the Yanks have done so this season. It was Sanchez's 10th long ball of the season and Hicks' third.
The rally took rookie Domingo German off the hook after the A's caught up to him the second time through the order, producing six runs on six hits through five innings. German retired the first seven batters, extending the string from six hitless innings against the Indians in his first Major League start, but Oakland enjoyed a five-run fourth against the right-hander.
"The first few innings, it was like last start," Boone said. "He was on the attack, working fast, pounding the zone and using all three pitches. He just lost command. In the past when he would get behind, usually he's able to spin it in for a strike or go to his changeup for a strike. He just lost it."
Khris Davis mashed a three-run homer for the biggest blow against German, who thought he'd escaped the inning when he got Mark Canha to offer at a two-strike pitch. First-base umpire Quinn Wolcott didn't agree, and Canha remained at bat, contributing a two-run single before being thrown out trying to stretch it into a double to end the frame. Jed Lowrie lifted a fifth-inning sacrifice fly that appeared to give the A's a comfortable lead at the time.
"We just grinded our way back," Walker said. "We feel really comfortable with the guys we have in our bullpen late in the game. They did a really nice job keeping it where it was, and fortunately, we were able to walk it off before the rain came."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Yankees struggled with runners in scoring position all afternoon, finishing 3-for-14 with 13 men left on, but Walker came through when it counted most. The 32-year-old connected with Hatcher's 92.8-mph fastball up in the zone, lacing it to center field. Walker's teammates mobbed him near first base, showering him with sunflower seeds and beverages.
"That guy can fit in anywhere," Judge said. "He's such a great guy in the clubhouse. The at-bats he's been having ... When we need to get things going -- a clutch double, a base hit, anything -- that's the guy we turn to. He's been doing it the past couple of weeks, especially on this homestand, he's been coming through in big situations. He means a lot for this club."
With Sanchez hitting his 10th homer, this marks the first time that three Bombers have reached 10 homers prior to the team's 40th game of the season. Judge (11) and Gregorius (10) are the others with a double-digit total so far.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Chapman walked the first three men he faced in the ninth but recovered to strike out Canha, then got pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy to lift a fly ball to medium-depth left field. Olson tagged up on Gardner, who threw a one-hopper to Sanchez. Home-plate umpire James Hoye called Olson safe, but replay showed that Sanchez's tag brushed Olson's back just before the runner touched home plate.
"It wasn't even close once you saw the replay," Gardner said. "The camera, once they slow it down, that doesn't lie. It's obviously a bang-bang play, but once I saw the replay, I was excited about it."
Luis Severino (5-1, 2.21 ERA) will be wearing some pink as the Yankees conclude their three-game series with the Athletics on Mother's Day at 1:05 p.m. ET. Severino is coming off a start against the Red Sox in which he recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts, exiting with a lead before settling for a no-decision in a Yanks win. Brett Anderson is scheduled to start for Oakland.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.