Longtime A’s killer Mark Teixeira hit two homers Wednesday to help send Oakland to a 5-4 defeat, but the bigger storyline was the condition of A’s starter Scott Kazmir.
The veteran lefty exited the game against the Yankees after just three innings with tightness in his left triceps. Though the seriousness of his injury wasn’t immediately known, it’s the latest setback for an A’s pitching staff that has seen its depth take a hit health-wise.
With the bullpen unexpectedly called into early duty, struggling reliever Evan Scribner allowed a game-tying homer to Teixeira, his first batter. The Yankees were ahead 3-2 when Teixeira connected for another solo shot in the sixth. His 117 career RBI against the A’s are his most versus any team.
Whether Kazmir’s latest injury affects the trade talk swirling around him remains to be seen. But he’s one of the hottest names in the rumor mill. Scouts from at least six teams reportedly were on hand at Yankee Stadium to watch him pitch.
Fellow A’s starter Jesse Hahn is dealing with elbow tightness that’s pushing his next start back to Saturday. Jarrod Parker is sidelined the rest of the season after fracturing his elbow, and A.J. Griffin – who like Parker is on the comeback from Tommy John surgery – is dealing with biceps tendinitis. Another starter at Triple-A, Sean Nolin, has dealt with a recent shoulder issue.
Wednesday’s game, in and of itself, dealt the A’s more bad news. Reliever Fernando Abad, who’s had back trouble and hadn’t appeared in the previous eight games, allowed a homer to the Yankees’ Stephen Drew in the eighth that made it 5-2. That proved extremely costly when the A’s got a two-run homer from Marcus Semien that still left them behind 5-4, rather than tying it. The A’s got the tying run to second base with two outs off Yankees closer Andrew Miller, but Ben Zobrist was thrown out on his slow tapper to third to end it.
Starting pitching report
Kazmir’s pitching line didn’t suggest anything was bothering him. He allowed just an unearned run and gave up two hits over his three innings. He struck out four and walked one over 50 pitches. But he didn’t come out for the bottom of the fourth.
The lefty exited a May 27 start against Detroit with tightness in his throwing shoulder. That turned out to be a minor issue as he missed just one turn through the rotation. Of late, Kazmir has been one of the most dominant starters in the game. He entered Wednesday 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA over his previous five starts, lowering his overall ERA to 2.56. That’s only intensified the speculation that Kazmir could be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Scribner continues to struggle regardless of the situation he enters. Callled upon to start the bottom of the fourth after Kazmir left, Scribner gave up a homer to Teixeira, his first batter, after getting ahead 1-2 in the count. The Yankees would score again off him that inning to take a 3-2 lead. A wild pitch and a steal of third by Chris Young set up Jose Pirela’s sacrifice fly.
Scribner delivered a scoreless fifth, but trouble hit again when Teixiera led off the next inning. Scribner put a 2-2 fastball on the outer half of the plate and the switch hitter yanked it over the right field wall for a 4-2 Yankees lead.
Scribner has allowed 11 homers, the most among all major league relievers, and a whopping five over his past three outings alone.
At the plate
The A’s scored twice in the second to take an early lead, but after that they were silent with the bats until Semien’s two-run shot in the ninth.
In the field
Brett Lawrie’s error in the second led to an unearned run off Kazmir that shaved the A’s lead to 2-1.
Jesse Chavez (4-8, 3.20) takes the ball in Thursday’s 10:05 a.m. series finale, with Masahiro Tanaka (4-3, 3.94) going for the Yankees.