The Oakland Athletics plan to bring their good-luck charm along as they make their Sunday Night Baseball season debut, sharing the spotlight with the visiting New York Yankees in the finale of a four-game series.
Oakland will get a chance to split the set thanks to a 3-2 victory Saturday that began with injured pitcher Chris Bassitt presenting the A’s lineup card to the umpires and ended with New York’s 13-game winning streak relegated to history.
Bassitt made his first return to the Coliseum in Oakland on Saturday since undergoing surgery for a facial fracture suffered when he was struck below the right eye with a line drive in a start Aug. 17 against the Chicago White Sox.
“You can’t put a number on what certain guys mean,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin, who noted that Bassitt also was on hand for a win in Chicago. “Certain guys resonate in our room. Everybody was real excited to see him.
“When you see a guy get through something like that, and we’re in a losing streak, it’s kinda like, you know, there are worse things than this.”
The A’s have no idea whether their 12-game winner will be able to pitch again this season.
Even with Bassitt lending them emotional support, the A’s had to overcome another Aaron Judge home run to pull out the narrow win, getting seven shutout innings from Frankie Montas and a homer from Matt Chapman.
Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery (5-5, 3.69) and A’s righty Paul Blackburn (0-1, 4.09) are the scheduled starters in the season-series finale between the playoff hopefuls. New York has won four of six meetings.
Montgomery will have to deal with a lineup Melvin shuffled on Saturday in an effort to snap a six-game losing streak that had equaled the season’s longest.
Chapman, who had been dropped as low as eighth in the order this month, responded with a promotion to the No. 5 spot by producing what wound up being the difference-making run.
Chapman, who entered the contest hitting .223, had hit as high as fifth just twice in the previous 34 games.
The third baseman has never gotten a hit off Montgomery in his career, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Montgomery has faced the A’s just twice in his career, both times as a starter, accumulating an 0-0 record and 4.09 ERA.
One of those starts took place when the A’s visited New York in June, a game the Yankees won 2-1 even though Montgomery, who pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run baseball, did not get a decision.
Judge’s homer Saturday was his second of the series and the Yankees’ eighth. New York manager Aaron Boone credited the slugger’s patience on a day when he also singled and doubled.
“He’s obviously in a real good place, hitting all kinds of pitches,” Boone observed. “As hot as he is and who he is, they’re pitching him real careful. It’s allowing him to get into some real good counts, and he’s taking advantage.”
Blackburn has allowed just one homer in 11 innings in two starts since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this month.
He hasn’t faced the Yankees in his career.
–Field Level Media