Mets’ Gee Takes Walk On The Wild Side, Suffers 1st Loss
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NEW YORK (AP) — Josh Outman, Jemile Weeks and the Oakland Athletics have been good as gold in their garish alternate jerseys.
Outman threw another impressive game, Weeks scored three times and the streaking A’s walked their way to a 7-3 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night, handing rookie Dillon Gee his first loss of the season.
Riding their longest winning streak of the year, the A’s had a gift waiting for them when they came back into the clubhouse after batting practice. Equipment manager Steve Vucinich secretly brought those gold alternate jerseys from Oakland to New York so players could keep wearing them — even on the road.
He hid them away all afternoon, then sprang the surprise.
In baseball, you don’t mess with a winning streak. It’s all about superstition.
“A bunch of guys were pumped,” Vucinich said. “Brian Fuentes said he would fly them in on a private jet. He didn’t know I already had them here.”
It all started when, with his team in a tailspin, Outman opted for the gold jerseys when he started last week at home in a win over Kansas City. He said he was looking to “mix it up, see if we can get something going.”
The A’s kept wearing gold and haven’t lost since, so Vucinich checked to make sure it wasn’t a violation of Major League Baseball rules to don those alternate jerseys on the road.
No problem at all. It just meant pairing them with gray pants and the team’s traditional white spikes.
“Not our best look,” Weeks said. “But like I said, it’s part of our winning right now, so we’re just going to I guess keep it until it wears itself out, I guess you could say.”
Ryan Sweeney had four hits, including an RBI single, and the resurgent A’s won their sixth straight game after dropping 13 of 14. It’s their longest winning streak since a seven-game run in September 2009.
Cliff Pennington reached base four times and scored twice, forming a pesky tandem with Weeks at the top of a Punch and Judy lineup. The speedy Weeks walked twice and stole two bases, the latest spark he’s provided since getting called up from the minors June 7.
“He’s like the little Energizer bunny. That guy just keeps going and going and he battles and he takes good at-bats,” Oakland reliever Grant Balfour said. “You can just see that he’s got a lot of energy and a lot of confidence, and he’s a great little player.”
Outman (3-1), who wears No. 88, lived up to his pitcher-perfect name, allowing two runs — one earned — and four hits in six innings while wearing old-school, dark green stirrups stretched high over his yellow socks.
Balfour retired Josh Thole on a bases-loaded grounder to end the eighth, then finished for his second save as the last-place Athletics took the series opener, an interleague rematch of the 1973 World Series.
Reggie Jackson and the A’s won that one in seven games for the second of their three straight titles.
The lone bright spot for the Mets was Jason Bay, who finally showed his old pop at the plate. Bay hit a long homer in the sixth to make it 7-2, his first extra-base hit in 25 games and 89 at-bats — the longest drought of his career.
It was Bay’s first home run since May 13 at Houston, and the former slugger wasn’t done. He added an RBI triple in the eighth that might have cleared the center-field fence if not for a leaping Coco Crisp, who knocked the ball back into play.
Umpires took a look at the replay but upheld the original call.
“It’s been a battle,” Bay said. “I feel like the last week has been a lot better, and it was nice to get the results and put some wood on some balls and get that confidence and hopefully build off that.”
Normally so poised and polished on the mound, Gee (7-1) was all over the place in a matchup of promising young pitchers. He walked his first two batters, and a single by Crisp loaded the bases.
Hideki Matsui hit a sacrifice fly and Conor Jackson drove in a run with a groundout.
“I couldn’t locate the fastball, and that’s what it all comes off of. If you can’t locate the fastball, you’re probably not going to do very well,” Gee said. “I don’t really care about the wins and losses. They come and go. But the frustrating part is I really didn’t give us a chance tonight.”
Gee walked Weeks and Pennington again in the third, and two more free passes soon followed. Sweeney’s infield single made it 4-0.
Trying to become the first Mets rookie to win eight straight decisions, Gee walked six in the first three innings. His previous career high for a game was four.
“That’s certainly not the guy we know,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “I don’t think he made any adjustments tonight.”
Oakland, which was coming off a three-game sweep at home of the Bay Area-rival Giants, improved to 7-4 under interim manager Bob Melvin, who took over when Bob Geren was fired June 9.
In the offseason, Melvin interviewed for the Mets’ managerial job that went to Collins.
NOTES: Matsui started in the outfield for the first time this season. He made a nice catch in left to end the fifth. … After the game, the A’s optioned slumping 1B Daric Barton to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for 2B Mark Ellis, who will come off the disabled list Wednesday after being sidelined by a strained right hamstring. … Bay also made a pair of nice plays in left field. … Injured Mets 1B Ike Davis (ankle) is scheduled to be re-evaluated Wednesday and 3B David Wright (back) gets checked out on Thursday.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)