A broken nail, a runner nailed at home and a clutch “Neil” all played a role as the Yankees outlasted the Oakland A’s, 7-6 in 11 innings. The Yankees snapped a five game losing streak dating back to last season against Oakland and have six of the first eight games of a nine game home stand with the finale on Sunday.
The four hour and 15 minute affair finally came to an end when the surging Neil Walker blooped a single into center field to score Gary Sanchez with the game winner.
The broken nail was supplied by Aroldis Chapman who had diminished velocity and walked three batters to put Oakland in business with a bases loaded, none out opportunity. “He (Chapman) had some issues with that (the nail),” Manager Aaron Boone said after the game. “He (Chapman) reigned it in pretty good.”
Boone was referring to what happened after a short “pow-wow” to see what was going on with the closer’s finger. Chapman regrouped and struck out Mark Canha swinging. The next batter was pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy who lifted a fly to short left field. Matt Olson tagged up and tried to score but Brett Gardner got rid of the ball quickly to make it close at home. Gary Sanchez tried the swipe tag, but home plate umpire James Hoye ruled safe and the A’s had an apparent 7-6 lead, but Boone was having none of that. “I was actually one of the few (that saw Sanchez make the tag),” he said. “I think he (Sanchez) hit his (Olson) back.”
Gardner didn’t have the best view until it was replayed on the big screen. “Once I saw the replay, I was excited about it,” said the longest tenured Yankee. Olson was not so excited. “When they put it up on the screen, I saw there was a chance, just sucks,” he said.
The Yankees challenged and the 41,859 on hand roared their approval when the call was overturned, which left A’s Manager Bob Melvin frustrated to say the least. “We’re on the wrong side of that every single time it seems like, Melvin said. “The call was out, they (umps in Chelsea) said they saw some sort of touch there so, not much we can do about it”
Right hander A.J. Cole gave the Yankees two scoreless innings to set up the winning rally. In the 11th, a two out walk to Aaron Hicks, who had homered earlier, put runners at first and second. Walker, who has raised his average from .171 to .210 in the last nine days, took the first pitch from A’s reliever Chris Hatcher and flared one into short center field to send the fans home happy for a sixth time in this nine game home stand that concludes on Sunday.
Boone has seen Walker raise his average from .171 to .210 over the last nine days so he’s not surprised that the switch-hitter came through. “He just gives you that mature, veteran quality at bat,” Boone said.
Walker was signed late in the spring so it’s taken him awhile to get going but he knew something was brewing when the Yanks were on their recent road trip to the West Coast. “As a guy who’s played this game a long time, you know when it’s starting to come,” he said. “In Anaheim, I had a good series of hitting balls on the barrel and you just try to run with that and throw together good at-bats.”
The win was the fourth walk off since Sanchez sent the Twins packing back on April 26th. The Yankees have won 12 of their last 14 home games and are 17-7 in the Bronx.