- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- So tonight, the bats worked -- well, better than they have recently -- but the arms, generally dependable, let them down, and once again, the fielding was less than crisp. Vidal Nuno was so-so, but worse than that, gave the New York Yankees only 4 2/3 innings, which means a lot of bullpen, and lately that means a lot of runs for the other team.
Tonight's 7-4 loss to the surging Oakland A's, owner of the AL's best record (37-22), was another disheartening night for the home team, which can never seem to get all its departments working efficiently at the same time. And after having their biggest inning in a week, the Yankees couldn't hold a four-run third-inning lead. Yikes.
Tragic numbers: With the loss, the Yankees dropped to .500 (29-29) for the first time since May 13, when they were 19-19. They have now lost five of their past six, all here at home, and the best they can hope for is a 2-5 homestand if they can salvage the series finale Thursday behind Masahiro Tanaka. And they have dropped to six games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.
Welcome to the show: Five pitches into his big league debut, Jose Ramirez -- called up just today from AAA Scranton -- got a taste of what it's like to pitch to Josh Donaldson, who whacked his 1-1 fastball into the left-field seats to break a 4-4 tie. It was Donaldson's 16th HR of the season, fourth most in the AL.
Wade to go: Lefty reliever Wade LeBlanc, claimed off waivers from the Angels yesterday, gave up two key runs in the ninth, allowing two singles, issuing an intentional walk, hitting a batter to force in one run and giving up a sacrifice fly to drive in the second.
Bombs away: In addition to Donaldson's blast, the A's got two solo home runs from Yoenis Cespedes, leading off the fourth off Nuno for the first Oakland run of the game, and leading off the sixth off Matt Daley to cut the Yankees' early 4-0 lead to 4-3.
Offensive explosion: The Yankees had their biggest inning in a week when they scored four runs in the third inning, three of them on Jacoby Ellsbury's home run off the back wall of the Yankees' bullpen in remote right-center. The first run scored on a leadoff walk to Ichiro Suzuki, a single by Brett Gardner that send Ichiro to third, and an infield hit by Derek Jeter that snapped an 0-for-12 hitless streak for the Yankees' captain. Ellsbury followed with his third HR of the season.
Grand larceny: A's center fielder Craig Gentry robbed Brett Gardner of what looked like a sure triple leading off the first with a spectacular sprawling catch on the warning track in left-center.
Rollerball: In addition to his long home run, Donaldson reached base in the first inning on a ball that traveled precisely 90 feet, hugging the third-base line all the way and coming to rest against the bag for an infield hit while the Yankees stood by, vainly hoping it would roll foul. Cespedes followed with a hard, legitimate single to left, but no harm done as Nuno struck out Derek Norris to strand the runners.
Tomorrow: Finale of this three-game series, and seven-game homestand, matches Masahiro Tanaka (8-1, 2.06) and LHP Drew Pomeranz (5-2, 2.37), first pitch at 1:05 p.m.
1hAndrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews