Late rallies fall short

When discussing using Lyle Overbay in right field now that Mark Teixeira is back at first base on a regular basis, Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted that it is not a great risk for a career first baseman to play out there because that patch at Yankee Stadium is not very large. That is not the case in a place like Oakland’s O.co Coliseum.

Overbay did a serviceable job playing right field at the Stadium for three games last week against the Indians. No incidents and it helped to keep his bat in the lineup. Overbay was 3-for-9 in the series.

Tuesday night was another story. The Coliseum’s outfield is among the largest in the majors and foul ground is the most, which adds to the real estate outfielders need to cover. Overbay’s lack of experience came into play in the second inning when the Athletics got a run on a no-man’s-land double by Derek Morris, the Oakland catcher. With two out and a runner on first base, Morris hit a slicing flare near the right field line. Overbay looked to second baseman Robinson Cano as he ran in for the ball rather than taking charge. That slight hesitation was enough for the ball to drop just inside the line. Running on the crack of the bat, Josh Reddick scored all the way from first to push Oakland’s lead to 2-0.

The situation might have proved critical if the game had remained close, which was not the case until the last inning. In the fourth, Morris broke it open with a three-run home run off CC Sabathia, who had a rough night in his home area. Sabathia, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, Calif., also allowed a run with a wild pitch in the sixth inning when he got a late break off the mound and could not recover in time to cover the plate.

The A’s got to Sabathia immediately as Coco Crisp led off the first inning with his eighth homer of the season and third leading off a game this year and 15th of his career. It was not a good omen for Sabathia (6-5, 4.07 ERA), who was stung for six runs and eight hits in six innings as his career mark against the A’s went to 8-10 with a 4.66 ERA in 172 innings, including 4-6 with a 5.30 ERA at the Coliseum in 86 2/3 innings.

The 6-4 Oakland victory marked the first time this year that the Yankees lost a game started by a former Cy Young Award winner. They had been 6-0 in such games before suffering the defeat to Bartolo Colon, the 2005 winner when he was with the Angels.

The Yankees threatened Colon in the top of the first by loading the bases with one out on a single by Brett Gardner, last week’s American League Player of the Week, and two walks. Colon entered the game with only six walks in 77 1/3 innings, so the sudden lack of control was surprising. The Yankees failed to capitalize as Kevin Youkilis and Overbay both popped out.

Colon allowed the Yankees only two more hits and two more walks through the sixth. He had to sweat out the last two innings as the Yankees scored two runs each in the eighth and ninth before being able to celebrate his sixth straight victory that improve his record to 8-2. Colon has given up only three runs in 36 innings (0.75 ERA) over that stretch to lower his season ERA from 4.56 to 2.92.

The Yankees didn’t do much offensively until the last two innings. There were some good signs in the loss. Teixeira knocked in three runs with a pair of singles. Cano, who has been in a slump on the trip, reached base four times with a double, a single and two walks. Vernon Wells, also struggling, came off the bench and got a big RBI single. Gardner had two more hits, and so did Chris Stewart. Travis Hafner walked twice and smashed the ball hard twice but had nothing to show for it. Left fielder Seth Smith gloved Hafner’s drive in the ninth at the wall for the final out.

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