Having been bottled up offensively since arriving in the Bronx, Josh Donaldson picked a perfect time to break out.
His homer in the seventh off Jose Ramirez put the A’s up for good as they rolled to their fifth consecutive victory, 7-4, over the New York Yankees on Wednesday.
The long ball has been very good to the A’s so far this series. They got two from cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes on Wednesday as they roared back from a 4-1 deficit. That came after Brandon Moss’ two-homer game the night before.
Donaldson arrived at Yankee Stadium after a torrid homestand, and three games in the New York spotlight provided the opportunity to build on his impressive All-Star resume. But his only hit through his first eight at-bats in the series came on a first-inning dribbler Wednesday. That changed when he took Ramirez deep for his 16th homer of the season.
The comeback made a winner of Jesse Chavez (5-3), who navigated through six innings despite allowing Jacoby Ellsbury’s three-run homer.
The A’s once again showed why they’re leading the majors in runs scored, as they scored in a variety of ways and put themselves in position for another series sweep if they can take care of business in Thursday’s matinee.
Starting pitching report
Chavez worked six innings and left with the game 4-4. He seemed like he might be ticketed for a defeat after he served up Ellsbury’s three-run homer in the third. The Yankees scored all four of their runs off him that inning to command a 4-0 lead. But then Chavez buckled down and kept New York off the scoreboard over his final three innings. Pretty gutty effort … His final inning, the sixth, was impressive in that he issued a walk but retired the side by getting No. 9 hitter John Ryan Murphy on a groundout. That kept it a tie game after the A’s scored twice in the top half to make it 4-4, and it kept the Yankees from turning over the batting order.
Donaldson’s homer in the top of the seventh put Chavez in line for a victory. The right-hander gave up seven hits, struck out five and walked two. He did well to keep things together after giving up Ellsbury’s big blast.
You can’t say enough about Oakland’s relief work so far this series. The bullpen has allowed no runs over 6 2/3 innings. Particularly sharp Wednesday was Dan Otero. He got the ball to Sean Doolittle for the ninth, and Doolittle converted his second save in as many nights.
At the plate
A night after Moss delivered two homers, Cespedes turned heads with his own multi-homer game. Both of his shots came on breaking balls, and both displayed the awesome raw power he possesses. Cespedes drilled a solo shot to dead center in the fourth to get Oakland on the board. With the A’s down 4-2 to start the sixth, Matt Daley threw him an 0-1 curve well out of the strike zone, and Cespedes reached out and poked it the other way. It barely cleared the right field wall, and though it wouldn’t have been a homer in any other ballpark, it showed that Cespedes doesn’t have to get all of a pitch to leave the yard. That homer made it 4-3.
The A’s then benefited from a throwing error from Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, which put Derek Norris on. He would come around to score on Alberto Callaspo’s sacrifice fly, which capped a nine-pitch at-bat against Matt Thornton and tied the game.
Then Donaldson lit into a seventh-inning pitch from Jose Ramirez and rocketed a homer to left-center that put the A’s on top 5-4. It was a rude greeting for Ramirez, who was making his big league debut.
In the field
With Coco Crisp getting a night off as he’s still bothered by neck soreness, Craig Gentry drew the start in center field and registered one of the A’s top defensive plays of 2014. He raced into the gap in left-center and extended for a sensational diving catch to rob Brett Gardner on Chavez’s very first batter of the game.
The A’s committed two errors -– Norris made a poor throw on Ichiro Suzuki’s steal of second, and Jed Lowrie backhanded a ball and had it bounce off his glove -– but neither miscue cost the A’s.
Drew Pomeranz (5-2, 2.37) makes his first career appearance against the Yankees in Thursday’s 10:05 a.m. series finale. The A’s get Masahiro Tanaka (8-1, 2.06), who has been everything the Yanks could have hoped for in his first season in the United States.