OAKLAND, Calif. (WFAN/AP) — The Yankees received word their left fielder will indeed be out for the long haul with what is likely season-ending elbow surgery, then they got shut down by an unfazed rookie whose velocity varied by about 30 mph.
Not quite the kind of start they had hoped for on their final West Coast swing.
Oakland’s A.J. Griffin mixed speeds to shut down one of baseball’s best lineups for five innings and Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer as the Athletics beat the Yankees 4-3 Thursday night to snap a nine-game skid at home to New York.
“The kid knows how to locate the baseball,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He changes speeds, works fast and does what he needs to do.”
LISTEN: Girardi after Yankees’ loss
The Yankees found out before the game that left fielder Brett Gardner will have surgery next week on his elbow, which has sidelined him since he injured it diving for a ball on April 17 against the Twins.
Nick Swisher spoke to his teammate late Thursday.
“That was a big deal. He’s the spark plug,” Swisher said. “He has the ability to lead the league in stolen bases. It’s tough to replace a world-class speed guy. Nobody likes losing a teammate. You call this year a wash and just wish him the best to get healthy.”
Griffin already has shown poise in some high-profile moments — meeting the Bay Area rival Giants in his big league debut last month, hanging tough at two-time AL champion Texas his next time out, facing Boston on July 4 and beating the Twins for his first victory last Friday.
“It’s fun. I didn’t have a choice of who I pitched against,” he said. “We’re having a lot of fun right now. I like to hear the music after games.”
Through the locker room noise, he turned to Sean Doolittle and said, “Hey, we just beat the Yankees!”
Seth Smith added a two-run single in the third for the A’s, who won for the 11th time in 13 games to move a season-best four games over .500 at 48-44 — the first time the club has been there since it was 28-24 on May 31, 2010.
It was a rare dog day of summer for the Yankees, who still owned the best record in baseball (57-35) after a night in which 718 dogs attended the game as the A’s attempted to set a Guinness World Record for most canines at a sporting event. They will submit their total to Guinness.
Cespedes’ drive was Oakland’s 13th homer in the last six games. The A’s snapped New York’s three-game winning streak and handed the Yankees just their third defeat in 12 games.
Swisher, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez each had a pair of hits for New York, which swept a three-game series here from May 25-27 and owns a 24-10 record at Oakland since 2004.
A’s All-Star closer Ryan Cook surrendered Swisher’s one-out homer in the ninth before recovering for his 10th save in 13 chances.
Swisher’s 14th homer, against his first team, helped New York extend its franchise-record run of 43 straight games with at least three runs as it opened the four-game series that kicks off a seven-game road trip in the team’s final West Coast trek.
The red-hot A’s handed Freddy Garcia (4-3) his first loss since April 28 against Detroit.
“I was fighting every pitch. I was in trouble the whole game,” Garcia said. “When I threw the fastball they hit and drove in runs.”
Garcia’s nine hits allowed in 5 2-3 innings matched his most of the season. He struck out six and walked two.
The right-hander received a call from Mariners ace Felix Hernandez earlier Thursday in anticipation of their matchup Tuesday at Safeco Field.
“He said, ‘I’m going to pitch against my idol,'” Garcia said.
Coco Crisp had three hits for an Oakland club that improved to 11-2 in July and opened a stretch with 17 straight against AL East opponents.
Griffin (2-0) allowed two runs on four hits in six innings, struck out four and didn’t walk a batter for the first time in his fifth career start.
After allowing Raul Ibanez’s one-out single in the second, Griffin retired the next 11 Yankees in order before Jeter’s leadoff single in the sixth.
Rodriguez singled one out later and Robinson Cano followed with a base hit to extend his career-high hitting streak to 22 games. He also has reached base safely in 25 consecutive games since June 20.
Griffin received a mound visit from pitching coach Curt Young, then gave up Mark Teixeira’s sacrifice fly and an RBI single to Swisher.
Jeter singled leading off the game but was later out on a strange force at third. After Rodriguez’s one-out single, left fielder Cespedes backhanded Cano’s liner then dropped the ball, hesitated and then overthrew third as the baserunners held. Griffin, backing up the bag, retrieved the ball and ran to step on third for the force on Jeter. He threw to second, but Rodriguez made it in time even though he had hesitated between first and second after urging Jeter to go. A-Rod at one point threw his arms up as if to ask what had happened.
A’s manager Bob Melvin credited Griffin for having the wherewithal to back up the base.
“There was mass confusion on that play,” Griffin said.
Yankees special adviser Reggie Jackson rejoined the team and was in uniform after he made comments critical of slugger Alex Rodriguez and other former stars.
Notes: Jeter’s sixth-inning run scored gave him 1,822, tying him with Eddie Collins for 15th all-time. … Injured New York reliever Joba Chamberlain (ankle) is scheduled to pitch for a fourth time with the Gulf Coast Yankees on Friday. … Former A’s 3B Eric Chavez received a mostly warm welcome when he came to the plate for the first time in the second. … Not counting canines, the game drew 23,382.
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