OAKLAND — Three early home runs suggested that the Yankees might finally enjoy a laugher in extending their winning streak to 12 games, their longest since Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris comprised the heart of the batting order. Instead, they scraped for their new trademark: another hard-fought close win.
After seeing their six-run lead evaporate, Aaron Judge delivered a tiebreaking bloop single to chase home Tyler Wade in the ninth inning and Aroldis Chapman closed out his 300th career save as the Yankees celebrated a 7-6 victory over the Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum.
“It’s a testament to this team and what we’re made of,” Judge said. “Throughout the whole year, we’ve been battling. At times things don’t go our way, but everybody in this clubhouse has each other. We continue to fight for each other and go out there expecting to win every single game.”
Judge’s opposite-field hit off closer Lou Trivino came after Anthony Rizzo worked a two-out walk and yielded to the speedy Wade as a pinch-runner. Wade stole second and trotted to third base as catcher Sean Murphy airmailed his throw into center field.
“It hasn’t always been easy or perfect, but these guys are really good at competing,” said manager Aaron Boone, who was ejected in the second inning for arguing balls and strikes. “Especially when the game’s in the balance … we’re playing well, we’re playing for a lot and it’s a lot of fun to be part of this team.”
The Yankees’ dozen consecutive victories represents their longest winning streak since a 13-game stretch from Sept. 1-12, 1961, overpowering their recent history in Oakland, where they have won just eight of their last 29 games since September 2012.
“Twelve in a row; I think there’s a little bit of luck sprinkled in there,” Judge said. “This was a big win for us, going up against the A’s. They’re fighting for a Wild Card, fighting for a division just like we are. We got up early and I thought we’d coast through it. They bounced back and hit us in the face. Great job all around.”
300 for Chapman
Pitching around a two-out Starling Marte single and stolen base, Chapman induced a Matt Olson ground ball to secure his 24th save in 28 chances this season, incorporating minor mechanical tweaks two days after he wobbled in an opportunity against the Braves in Atlanta.
“I felt pretty good tonight,” Chapman said through an interpreter. “We talked before the game about some adjustments that they thought would be beneficial to me. … We looked back at some video of previous years, seeing where I am today and things that we wanted to change.”
Taking over after Albert Abreu, Clay Holmes and Jonathan Loaisiga combined for 4 1/3 innings of one-run relief, Chapman became the 31st pitcher in Major League history to reach 300 saves, and the first since the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen in 2019.
“To be honest, I never thought about it,” Chapman said. “In the beginning, I wasn’t even a closer. But as you go on with your career, there are certain goals that you get to reach. I’m very happy to get to this number. Now it’s a matter of seeing what’s next.”
Boone’s fire sparks bats
Having been ejected in the second inning by home-plate umpire Todd Tichenor for arguing a questionable third strike to Joey Gallo, Boone watched on television from his office as New York surged to a 6-0 lead, powered by a trio of home runs off A’s starter James Kaprielian.
Giancarlo Stanton and Brett Gardner launched solo home runs in the second inning right after Boone’s exit, with Stanton homering for the third consecutive game. In the third, Gallo connected for a towering three-run shot and Rizzo had a run-scoring double.
“I was telling guys after the game, I really respect Boonie for doing that,” Gallo said. “You can tell that he’s into the game just as much as we are, and he wants to win just as bad as we do. For him to have our back and fight for us like that … it’s special for a manager. It means a lot.”
The early breakout gave a big cushion to right-hander Jameson Taillon, who entered Thursday’s start having pitched to a 5-0 record and 2.01 ERA over his last nine outings. But Taillon couldn’t hold the lead. He was touched by Matt Chapman and Murphy for back-to-back home runs in the third, and his command evaporated in the fourth, as he issued three walks — including a bases-loaded free pass to Chapman — and a two-run single to Elvis Andrus with two outs and two strikes.
Even with the early exit, Taillon said he believed the Yanks would rally.
“All that matters right now is winning,” Taillon said. “It doesn’t matter how you get it done. Tonight, they picked me up when I needed them. That’s the story with the winning streak — it seems like it’s someone different every night. It’s been fun to be a part of.”