The New York Yankees haven’t been dominant offensively since the All-Star break, but their ability to win close games has overshadowed any struggles at the plate.
After a sub-par performance caught up to them in an unlikely defeat, however, the Yankees hope their bats can help them bounce back.
The Yankees look to rebound from their first loss in nine games - and their first to the lowly Oakland Athletics in more than a year - as the clubs finish a four-game series in New York on Sunday.
New York (59-38) won its first eight games after the All-Star break, but it wasn’t because of a surging offense. The Yankees averaged 4.6 runs during the streak, nearly a full run below their season average of 5.5.
The minor offensive drop-off didn’t seem too critical because New York won three one-run games and three two-run games during the streak while taking over the best record in the AL. But the Yankees didn’t have enough offense Saturday, when they were held to six hits in a 6-4 loss.
Derek Jeter(notes), who hit a two-run homer off reliever Michael Wuertz(notes) in the eighth inning, gave credit to Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez(notes), who took a no-hitter into the fifth after coming into the game with a 9.33 ERA.
“He was outstanding,” Jeter said. “We couldn’t get anything going.”
While the Yankees weren’t clicking at the plate, the Athletics (41-55) went 5 for 8 with runners in scoring position and scored all six runs in the seventh to beat New York for the first time in nine tries since June 11, 2008.
The left-hander, who has held nine of his last 10 opponents to two earned runs or fewer, gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 3-2, 10-inning loss to Minnesota on Tuesday. Despite the strong outing, he was frustrated that he matched a career high with four walks.
Braden has a 2.45 ERA in three relief appearances against New York. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez(notes), who’s 1 for 12 with six strikeouts in the first three games of the series, is 2 for 2 with a homer in his career against Braden.
New York will counter with Sergio Mitre(notes) (1-0, 4.76), who got his first major league win in nearly two years Tuesday. The right-hander, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2007 because of elbow ligament replacement surgery and a 50-game drug suspension, gave up four runs - three earned - in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-4 victory over Baltimore.
“I know I can pitch here,” said Mitre, who has never faced Oakland. “It’s just a matter of staying healthy. That’s been my biggest problem throughout my career.”
New York, which is 34-17 at home in its first season at the new Yankee Stadium, hasn’t lost back-to-back games there since June 17-18.