OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) When slugger Khris Davis cleared the fences again at last, he gave it an animated trot around the bases complete with a salute approaching third before celebrating with his teammates back in the dugout.
When top pitching prospect A.J. Puk made his major league debut at last, the crowd went crazy and he felt the love. His teammates razzed him afterward and he assured everybody, ”I can take it.”
Davis and Marcus Semien each hit a two-run homer to back Mike Fiers, and the Oakland Athletics held off the New York Yankees 6-4 on Wednesday night to clinch another series win against an AL division leader after taking three of four games from Houston last weekend.
Oakland moved a percentage point in front of Tampa Bay for the second AL wild card.
Davis snapped an 0-for-17 slump – three at-bats shy of the longest hitless drought of his career – with his first home run since July 30 and second since June 18. He sent a full-count pitch down the right field line in the second inning for just his 18th homer after he led the majors last season with 48 for his third straight year with 40 or more.
”He needed that,” manager Bob Melvin said. ”He’s been grinding hard. He takes this pretty seriously. He’s been so instrumental for this team, as consistent a power hitter as we’ve ever had around here.”
Stephen Piscotty added a solo home run in the sixth after the Yankees got Mike Tauchman’s sacrifice fly in the top of the inning. Mike Ford homered in the seventh for New York, and Didi Gregorius added an RBI double.
Liam Hendriks struck out DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge in the eighth to escape a jam after Puk started the inning.
”He handled it well,” Fiers said of Puk. ”We’re going to see a lot of him.”
Hendriks finished for his 15th save as Oakland (73-53) moved a season-best 20 games over .500 and earned Melvin his 1,200th career victory as a manager.
Fiers (12-3) loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, and his night was done. He struck out four and walked three, allowing two runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings. This marked the anniversary of the first of his two no-hitters on Aug. 21, 2015, for the Astros against the Dodgers.
The A’s won for the sixth time in seven games and reached 201 home runs. They have ample time to close in on the club record of 243 set in 1996.
Yankees lefty J.A. Happ (10-8) allowed five runs and four hits in four innings. He struck out four and walked two.
”He hasn’t gotten away with a mistake with a single. It seems like it’s been slugged,” manager Aaron Boone said. ”That’s hurt.”
Puk drew huge applause when the shaggy-haired lefty came on for his first big league appearance. Puk hit 99 mph on the radar gun and issued a walk and Ford’s single one out later before giving way to Hendriks.
Puk, called up Tuesday after he missed last season following Tommy John surgery, will remain a reliever in the majors this season but a future starter. What about an opener?
”He’s going to be a starter,” Melvin said, then joked: ”He can open and go seven innings.”
Yankees lefty CC Sabathia’s farewell in the Bay Area means so much as he returns to his roots for the final time during the regular season before the 39-year-old pitcher heads into retirement.
On Monday, Sabathia spent a day off handing out his 50,000th backpack to first-graders and second-graders at home in Vallejo as kids returned to school.
”This is always going to be a special trip to me,” said Sabathia, who will conclude his career following 19 big league seasons and the last 11 with the Yankees. ”Coming here I got a chance to go to Vallejo first day of school giving backpacks away. Just being here with my family, my kids getting to see Vallejo and hang out in Vallejo, my kids are there now, so it’s always a special time for us.”
Yankees: OF Brett Gardner had an ingrown toenail removed Sunday that had bothered him all last week. He missed his second straight game but Boone expected Gardner to be in the lineup for Thursday night’s series finale. ”It was pretty sore yesterday, still,” Boone said, expecting Gardner to go through a full on-field workout. … RHP Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) threw a bullpen at the team’s complex in Florida – a pair of 16-pitch simulated innings. He could throw another bullpen as soon as Friday. … CF Aaron Hicks (right flexor strain) is yet to resume baseball activity.
Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea is likely to get another rehab start with Triple-A Las Vegas as he continues to work back from shoulder surgery last September. … LHP Brett Anderson is scheduled to make his next start Sunday against San Francisco after dealing with a blister his last time out on Sunday. … LHP Jesus Luzardo has returned to a full regimen with Las Vegas after being sidelined by a strained pitching shoulder. ”All good. I still don’t know what the plan is for him yet, but encouraging to see him get stretched out again,” Melvin said.
Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka (9-6, 4.56 ERA) makes his team-leading 26th start on an extra day of rest looking to reach double-digit victories for the sixth time in as many major league seasons. Oakland goes with RHP Tanner Roark (1-1, 2.55) in his fourth start since joining the A’s from the Reds at the July 31 trade deadline.
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