Bronx— On Saturday afternoon, with temperatures in the mid-90’s, it took the Yanks and Athletics 3 hours and 42 minutes, one minute longer than the previous day’s game, to score 17 fewer runs, get 11 fewer hits, commit 3 less errors and walk 3 fewer batters. The Yankees’ 4-3 loss was rare in two respects. It was only the team’s sixth daytime loss in 34 games this season and the loss broke an 11 game winning streak over the Athletics.
The two starting pitchers went into the sixth before being removed and received the decisions, win (Rich Harden) and loss (A.J. Burnett). The Yankees starter has only won two of his most recent seven decisions.
On Saturday, he surrendered six hits and three earned runs in 5.2 innings. As often happens, Burnett’s questionable control raised his pitch count to a high number relatively early in the game. He walked three and hit two batsmen to reach 100 pitches in the sixth.
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi explained his reasons for lifting Burnett even though he believed his starter pitched well, “I thought he threw a good game, I just thought he ran out of gas. It was hot. He threw a lot that inning.”
Both teams did not take much advantage of getting men on base. The Yanks left 11 runners on base and were only successful twice in 11 opportunities with runners in scoring position. Oakland had no better clutch hitting than the Yankees. The Athletics only got one hit in 12 chances with runners in scoring position and left 12 on base.
Three of Oakland’s four runs were scored by four baggers. Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer with former Yankee Hideki Matsui on first in the third. Matsui hit the first pitch he saw to lead off the seventh with a solo homer.
Matsui, the World Series MVP for the Yankees in 2009, is still comfortable hitting in Yankee Stadium. He has homered in four of his last five games at Yankee Stadium. The long ball was Matsui’s 501st home run in Japan and the majors combined.
Another Yankees icon, Derek Jeter, has found Oakland pitching very welcome. He has hit successfully in five of seven at bats in the first two games of the series. He has also walked twice and stole two bases. Jeter now has 3,015 hits.
The rubber game of the series on Sunday afternoon will have Bartolo Colon (6-6) on the mound for the Yanks opposing Gio Gonzalez (9-6) of Oakland.