Yanks' comeback falls short with Bronx abuzz
LeMahieu on Stadium crowd: 'The bleachers were getting after it tonight'
The Yankees wanted to bring some swagger home, fueled by three consecutive come-from-behind victories and the anticipation of Yankee Stadium's first full-capacity crowd since the 2019 playoffs. They offered that audience a few thrills, but the comeback magic ran dry.
Wandy Peralta surrendered a sixth-inning, three-run homer to Tony Kemp that held up as the difference in the Yankees' 5-3 loss to the Athletics on Friday. New York was coming off a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays in Buffalo, N.Y., achieved despite trailing in the seventh inning or later of each contest.
"I felt like we were going to come back, one way or another," said infielder DJ LeMahieu, who homered in the defeat. "We just couldn't put much together, but I think our confidence has grown as a group, for sure, in those situations."
Peralta entered in the fifth inning, taking over for Jameson Taillon, who bounced back from the shortest start of his professional career by holding Oakland to two runs over 4 2/3 innings.
The lefty ended the fifth on a flyout but ran into two-out trouble in the sixth, yielding a pair of singles before grooving a 2-2 slider that Kemp parked over the right-field wall. It was the first homer Peralta has allowed to a left-handed batter this season.
"I'm trying to execute my pitch down and away, and I felt like I had a good chance to get out of that inning," Peralta said through an interpreter. "Unfortunately, I missed my spot and that's what happens here in the big leagues. You miss your spot here with big league hitters and you pay the price."
Given the performance of the Yanks' bats during their upstate visit, a two-run deficit did not seem as daunting as it might a week or two ago. During that series against the Blue Jays, the Yankees trailed by scores of 5-3, 2-1 and 4-3, taking advantage of a beleaguered bullpen late. They had no such success against Oakland pitching, which limited them to four hits.
LeMahieu hit a two-run homer and Rougned Odor cracked a go-ahead, fifth-inning homer off right-hander James Kaprielian, the Yanks' first pick (16th overall) in the 2015 MLB Draft. Dealt to Oakland in July 2017 in the trade that delivered right-hander Sonny Gray to New York, Kaprielian navigated 5 2/3 solid innings in his Bronx debut.
"He was tough. We didn't mount a whole lot against him," manager Aaron Boone said.
Friday's game was the first game with every seat available at Yankee Stadium since Game 5 of the 2019 American League Championship Series against the Astros. Friday's paid attendance was 24,037, the Yankees' largest crowd of the year but about half of building capacity.
"The bleachers were getting after it tonight," LeMahieu said. "That was definitely noticeable. It's just great to have everyone back. I can't wait for these big games this summer, to have the fans. It's going to help our team, for sure."
One start after he was unable to escape the first inning of a loss at Philadelphia, Taillon bounced back with an effort that Boone described as "a good step forward," noting that Taillon used his two-seamer and a harder slider to give hitters different looks. Taillon also returned to throwing from a full windup.
Matt Olson clubbed a second-deck solo homer in the first inning and Mark Canha collected a run-scoring third-inning single off Taillon, who yielded to Peralta for the final out of the fifth.
"I was going out there with the idea that I was going to be super aggressive with all of my pitches, versus overthinking and trying to nibble," Taillon said. "I thought it was something to build off. I thought I did a lot of things tonight differently that I can take going forward."
Odor flipped his bat before savoring his fifth-inning trot around the bases, then mugged for a television camera at the end of the Yankees' dugout, where he blew kisses to his newborn daughter at home. The display marked the last spurt of production from the Bombers' offense.
Kaprielian and reliever Yusmeiro Petit pitched around Aaron Judge's sixth-inning single, and Gio Urshela's seventh-inning hit was the Yanks' last knock, stranded on base as pinch-hitter Gary Sánchez popped out. Giancarlo Stanton worked a ninth-inning walk that brought the potential tying run to the plate, but Lou Trivino induced Urshela to hit into a game-ending double play.
"There’s obviously frustration that we didn't go out and pull one out tonight, but we’ve got a quick turnaround and a tough opponent again tomorrow,” Boone said. “We’ve got to come out ready to roll.”