Yankees' bats wilt in the Saturday heat

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees' 4-3 loss to the Oakland A's on Saturday made you wonder: Was Friday's 17-run barrage just a mirage?

You have to ask that question after the Bronx Bombers' offense disappeared in big spot after big spot Saturday. Manager Joe Girardi's crew left 11 men on base and went just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Trailing by two runs in the ninth, the first two Yankees reached base. But their 3-4-5 hitters failed to drive them both home. That's a sobering reality for any Yankees fan still drunk with pride after Friday's outburst.

"We didn't get much going on offense," Brett Gardner said. "They've got a pretty good bullpen and they came in and did the job. It just wasn't our day."

It seemed like the Yankees were going to summon some of that Friday night magic in the bottom of the eighth Saturday afternoon. They had runners on first and second with no one out. But Eduardo Nuñez failed to get a sacrifice bunt down, and Jorge Posada, hitting for rookie Brandon Laird, grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"We just couldn't get runs across the board," Nick Swisher said, after the Yanks left three runners in scoring position in the final three innings. "You have to give credit where credit is due."

The Yanks had another shot to rally in the ninth, when Gardner and Derek Jeter reached base to lead off the inning.

But Curtis Granderson went down swinging against A's closer Andrew Bailey. Then Robinson Cano followed Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly with a game-ending groundout to short, stranding Jeter at third.

"When you get the first two guys on and we have the three guys coming up, you feel pretty good about your chances," Girardi said. "And we got one. Unfortunately we didn't get the second one."

Yanks starting pitcher A.J. Burnett didn't do his team any favors when he wilted in the heat in the sixth.

With two outs and the bases empty, Burnett allowed a single and two straight walks before being lifted for reliever Cory Wade. Wade allowed an RBI single to Jemile Weeks, giving the A's a 3-1 lead.

For the third straight start, Burnett couldn't get out of the sixth inning. But you can't put this one all on Burnett.

After all, the Yankees mustered just five hits and two runs off A's starter Rich Harden, who took the mound Saturday winless in his previous six starts against the Bombers (0-3, 5.34 ERA).

Harden left after allowing a solo homer to Swisher with one out in the sixth, which cut the A's lead to 3-2.

"Rich did a good job of using the split effectively today," Swisher said. "We just really couldn't get anything going."

That's been a common theme for the Yankees' offense after the All-Star break. Prior to the 17-run onslaught Friday night, the Bombers had scored 30 runs in their previous eight games combined, all without injured third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

"We got guys in scoring position and we couldn't take advantage of it," Gardner said. "Just part of a tough day."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.