Programming note: Yankees-A's coverage starts Sunday at 12:30 p.m. with A's Pregame Live on CSN California.
OAKLAND – Jesse Hahn’s previous start was a career highlight that unfolded over nine innings.
On Saturday, it took just one pitch to send his night south. Hahn, the A’s right-hander who threw his first shutout Monday against Detroit, looked back with regret on one sixth-inning pitch to Carlos Beltran on Saturday.
The A’s clung to a one-run lead, and Hahn tried to go low and away with an 0-1 sinker, hoping to coax a pop-up from the 38-year-old outfielder. Instead Hahn got under the pitch, it flattened out on him in the hitting zone, and the loud crack of the bat signaled trouble for the A’s.
Beltran’s two-run homer to right-center put the Yankees ahead for good and sent the A’s to a 5-3 loss to halt, at least for the time being, the good vibes they’d built in two previous games against New York.
“I thought I was on a roll there,” Hahn said. “I had good tempo, good momentum. Just that one pitch, that one pitch kind of ruined the night.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's can't contain Beltran, Yankees]
The A’s were still very much in the game, trailing 4-3 in the sixth. But the Yankees bullpen -- one of the deepest, stingiest units in the game – slammed the door by retiring 13 of the 14 hitters it faced over the final 4 1/3 innings.
Oakland will take the field in Sunday’s homestand finale looking to take three of four from the Bombers and snap a streak of six consecutive series that they haven’t won.
They’ve played much better over the past week, but Saturday’s game saw a small-dosage return of some of the season-long traits that have plagued them. An error from third baseman Brett Lawrie in the fifth contributed to the A’s 31st unearned run allowed this season.
They racked up 12 hits but all of them were singles, and they couldn’t punch more runs across the plate to build on a 3-1 lead. The A’s also had a runner thrown at home when Marcus Semien was tagged out trying to score from second on Josh Reddick’s first-inning single.
“Early on, I think we had seven hits and no runs, and that’s hard to do,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “One extra-base hit maybe breaks it open.”
It certainly wasn’t the end result Hahn (2-5) wanted. He was riding high after throwing a four-hitter at Detroit on Memorial Day. New York wasted no time getting on the scoreboard Saturday, with Brian McCann’s two-out single in the first scoring Chase Headley.
But Melvin liked what he saw overall from the right-hander, who allowed seven hits and one walk to go with four strikeouts. Hahn, 25, has been vulnerable to left-handed hitting this season, entering the night with a .162 opponents’ average against righties but .311 against left-handers.
The Yankees featured seven left-handed bats in their lineup, including switch hitters.
“I thought threw the ball really well,” Melvin said. “You look at the numbers, he’s given up some hits to the lefties. He was a little different in what he tried to do today. I thought his breaking ball and changeup were better. He pitched in a little bit better. Really, it ends up being one ball that’s a little bit up to Beltran.”
The homer was the 377th of Beltran’s career, tying him with teammate Mark Teixeira for fourth most all-time among switch hitters. It was a classic case of a grizzled veteran capitalizing on a mistake by a young pitcher.
But the A’s, as a team, get a chance to make amends Sunday. They began this series in impressive fashion, now they need to finish it that way.