OAKLAND -- Over the course of the franchise’s longest hot streak in 60 years, Aaron Judge said that the Yankees learned to “go out there expecting to win every single game.” For the first time in more than two weeks, they did not shake hands in victory on Saturday, snapping their remarkable winning run at 13 games.
Néstor Cortes Jr. was peppered for three runs, including a Matt Chapman homer and a contested balk that forced in a run, and the Yankees’ thunderous bats went silent against Frankie Montas in a 3-2 loss to the A’s at the Oakland Coliseum. It was the Yanks’ first loss since the Aug. 12 Field of Dreams Game against the White Sox in Dyersville, Iowa.
“It’s time to start another streak,” Judge said after the game. “I think it just showed what we’re capable of. It’s something that I’ve preached all year about this team. Many people didn’t believe it, but this team is capable of a lot of great things.”
New York had hit at least three homers in each of its last three games, but Montas held the Yankees in check. The right-hander permitted only two hits -- both to Judge -- and a walk through seven scoreless innings.
“He filled up the zone and was ahead for the most part,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Credit to him for being on the attack. He kept us at bay. His strike-throwing and ability to get ahead in counts made it a tough day for us.”
There was a ninth-inning flicker of hope that the streak might see 14 games, something the Yanks haven’t achieved since 1960.
Facing Sergio Romo, Anthony Rizzo reached on a bloop single and Judge crushed a two-run homer, his 29th of the season and sixth in 15 games. But Giancarlo Stanton popped out and Joey Gallo grounded out to end the game.
“We never feel like we’re out of any ballgame, no matter the score or situation,” Judge said. “Trying to get the last three outs of a big league game is tough. It’s one of the toughest things to do, and as a team, we continued to fight. We just fell a little short there.”
Confusion on the basepaths
A second-inning balk called on Cortes after Tony Kemp bolted to steal second base loomed large in the game’s outcome, remaining a point of contention for the left-hander long after his final pitch of the afternoon.
The Yankees unsuccessfully challenged a call at second on Chad Pinder’s two-out double and Cortes walked Sean Murphy, preceding Kemp’s run-scoring single to center field. Cortes spotted Kemp break for second base but lifted his right leg behind the rubber, drawing a balk call from third-base umpire Will Little that sent Murphy home with the A’s second run.
“I didn’t know what I did,” Cortes said. “I usually hang up and try to read the runner. I was very surprised that the third-base umpire was the one who gave the call. … I told him, ‘How does he see that with my back turned towards him?’”
Cortes squabbled with the umpires after completing the inning, with Boone rushing out from the dugout to separate his pitcher. In the fifth, Cortes made a pickoff throw to first base and glanced exaggeratedly across his shoulder at Little, drawing a rebuke from home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo.
“It’s the frustration of the game,” Cortes said. “It cost us a run. Right now we would have been tied in the ninth inning.”
Chapman hit a solo shot in the fourth off Cortes. The Yanks have won six of Cortes’ eight starts since he joined the rotation on July 4, coinciding with the start of their 35-12 run, the best record in the Majors over that span.
“I thought he threw all right,” Boone said. “He gave us a chance.”
History in the making
The Yankees’ winning streak matched a 13-game run from Sept. 1-12, 1961, when Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra comprised the heart of the batting order. They enjoyed a 15-game winning streak in 1960.
“It’s not easy,” Rizzo said. “I think, collectively -- as all 26 guys plus our coaching staff -- everyone was involved. It’s a group effort. Most importantly, it just shows all of us how it’s going to take all 26 in any spot to do what we want to do.”
The Bombers outscored opponents by a 75-35 margin over the 13-game span, equaling the A’s (April 9-24) for the longest winning streak in the Majors this season.
“We can win games with the long ball, win with small ball,” Judge said. “Our bullpen comes in and closes games out for us. It’s a pretty diverse group overall; we’ve got so many different weapons. When we’ve got a couple of those weapons clicking at the same time, we can go on runs like this.”