Going 0-for-Oakland Brings Yankees Back to Earth - NBC New York

Going 0-for-Oakland Brings Yankees Back to Earth

Yankees haven't been on wrong side of four-game sweep since 2003



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    The Yankees picked the wrong week to quit beating up on Oakland.

    There are two kinds of sweeps in Major League Baseball.

    The first kind is the one that leaves your team looking like a cartoon character after a steamroller plows over their body. They are flat and lifeless after days of continued pounding at the hand of a clearly superior team.

    And then there's what the A's did to the Yankees in Oakland this weekend. Four straight wins, each of them by one run and each of them filled with missed opportunities that will haunt the Yankees as they make their way to Seattle for three games against the Mariners.

    The common thread for the A's in these games was pitching. They got strong efforts in all four games from guys like A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker, names that were unfamiliar when the weekend started and now feel like a haunting cloud hovering above the playoffs.

    Oakland still has a lot of work to do to get to that point, but every good start and every walk-off win (two this weekend) makes it feel like this might be some kind of sequel to "Moneyball" in the making. The Yankees were the off-screen heavy in that movie because of their payroll and the A's would be happy to have them play that role in a more triumphant moment this time around.

    We're not here to marvel at the way Billy Beane has reloaded his team on the fly, though. We're here to talk about the Yankees. 

    While Kevin Kernan of the Post has decided that these four games reveal hideous flaws in a Yankee team that is still six games up on the AL East, it didn't feel quite so momentous. The Yankees got very good pitching, 14 runs allowed in four games, but they weren't quite so good in other phases.

    Robinson Cano's hitting streak died at 23 games, Oakland's pitching was lights out and every small mistake -- Jayson Nix not turning a double play on Sunday, for example -- wound up being cause for Oakland success. That meant it wasn't surprising that a grounder eluded Derek Jeter in the 12th inning on Sunday afternoon because the Yankees were just inches away from being the sweeper.

    Sunday's game started well for the Yankees as they jumped to a 4-0 lead on old buddy Bartolo Colon, but the offense stopped dead after Curtis Granderson's fourth inning homer. CC Sabathia wasn't perfect, but he got the ball to Rafael Soriano with a 4-3 lead and it felt like the Yanks would escape with one win.

    Soriano couldn't get to the untucking of his shirt as Seth Smith homered to tie the game and extend it long enough for another win in the last Oakland at-bat. It's unfortunate and unpleasant, but Soriano's been good enough often enough to justify a swift kick to the gut for anyone who mentions Mariano Rivera's absence in the wake of the loss.

    It wasn't a great weekend for the Yankees, but it has been a pretty great year to this point. You can be like Kernan and make harsh judgments based on small sample size or you can take a longer view that accepts that even the best of teams run into moments that they can't handle.

    We're going with the latter. The Yankees were on a pretty remarkable little streak heading into this Oakland series and they got a reminder that things aren't always going to be so easy.

    The nice thing about building a 10-game lead is that such moments aren't worthy of panic. You can just admire what the A's are doing while feeling pretty confident that a better day is right around the corner.

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    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.