Athletics 2, Yankees 1
And there was Miguel Tejada—jumping around, clapping his hands and ordering his teammates to believe.
“Miggy was chirping so much in the dugout—‘I’m gonna get him, I’m gonna get him,’—you just knew something was going to happen,” Mulder said.
Something happened, all right: Tejada did it again.
The AL MVP hit a two-run double off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning, ruining Andy Pettitte’s one-hit performance with his second game-ending hit in three days and giving the A’s a 2-1 win over New York on Sunday.
Tejada’s heroics were a fitting finale to a tremendously entertaining series that included two more of the improbably dramatic victories in which the A’s specialize, whether it’s during last season’s 20-game winning streak or in their history of memorable wins over the Yankees at the Coliseum.
Oakland also won in its final at-bat on Friday night—on Tejada’s 10th-inning homer.
“I just said, ‘I’m going to do it,’ because that’s all you can do,” Tejada said. “I told everybody in the dugout that we could win this thing. It’s not going to get any better than today.”
A phenomenal pitching duel between two quick-working, hard-throwing left-handers ended with offensive fireworks.
Mulder (15-7) seemed headed for defeat until the dominant Pettitte was removed after walking Mark Ellis to start the ninth.
Eric Chavez moved Ellis to third with a one-out single off Rivera (5-1), who was pitching in his fourth straight game for the first time in his career.
Rivera threw a low fastball to Tejada and the shortstop still launched a drive off the elevated wall in deep left field.
“Even if you’re looking for that pitch, he can beat you,” Tejada said. “For me, he’s the best closer in the majors.”
Left fielder Hideki Matsui got too close and let the carom bounce over his head, taking away any chance the Yankees had to get Chavez. There was no throw as Chavez scored.
Tejada got another joyous home-plate reception, and thousands of fans in the sellout crowd cheered for several minutes afterward.
The Yankees’ bullpen wasted another amazing start. Pettitte allowed only Jose Guillen’s first-inning infield single while striking out six, and was headed to his ninth straight victory.
Pettitte didn’t say a word as he walked to the Yankees’ clubhouse while the A’s celebrated.
“It hurt,” Pettitte said. “I wanted to stay in there, but who better to come in than Mo? The way (Mulder) was pitching, I was happy to get one run. It’s a shame not to get the win.”
Mulder struck out seven and allowed just one runner to reach third base in his third straight victory—and his major league-leading eighth complete game of the year.
“That’s as good as it gets,” Mulder said. “It’s the biggest thrill for a pitcher in baseball, whether you’re tied or losing. You’re just sitting there quietly, because there’s nothing you can do. You’re just sitting there rooting for your team.”
Rivera blew his fourth save chance in 25 tries this season. It was the Yankees’ first loss when leading after eight innings in 58 games this season.
“I wasn’t tired. I felt fine,” Rivera said. “I made a good pitch to Tejada. He just got it.”
In becoming the AL’s second 15-game winner, Mulder retired the Yankees’ first 14 hitters before Aaron Boone’s double and Alfonso Soriano’s RBI single in the fifth. He still came agonizingly close to his second 1-0 loss in six starts, following Anaheim’s win over the punchless A’s on July 4.
Mulder cruised until the fifth, when he left a two-strike fastball up in the zone to Boone. The Yankees’ new third baseman pounded it off the wall in right-center—and two pitches later, Soriano hit a hard shot off Tejada’s glove to drive home the run.
Soriano emerged from a 5-for-38 slump with two hits, but made an eighth-inning throwing error.
Pettitte, who hasn’t lost since June 8, retired 16 straight batters between Guillen’s hit and Ellis’ sixth-inning walk—but after 116 pitches, he was removed by manager Joe Torre when Ellis walked again to open the ninth.
“I didn’t want Andy Pettitte to feel like a victim in this,” Torre said. “That’s why Mariano came in. … (Pettitte) wanted to stay in, but there’s nobody I trust more than Mariano Rivera. Ninety percent of Mariano is better than 100 percent of other pitchers.”
The A’s went 4-2 in their only homestand during a stretch with 18 of 24 games on the road. The Yankees finished a nine-game road trip with a pair ofheartbreaking losses—and a 10-7 victory on Saturday between.
Boone was responsible for seven of the A’s first 10 outs on six grounders and a foul pop. … A day after going 4-for-5, Bernie Williams was 0-for-4. … Soriano has made 14 errors—most among AL second basemen. His fielding error on Friday night allowed the tying run to score, and New York lost two innings later. … Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to eightgames.