For A’s, was it a Bronx bummer or baseball inevitability?

By Art Spander

NEW YORK — So what do we call DJ LeMahieu? The Bronx Bummer? One swing and the Oakland Athletics fell victim to the law of inevitability, Yankee Stadium variety.

The A’s had played the Yankees four times over the last couple of weeks and won every game. Meaning they were overdue to lose. And in the most agonizing of methods, which is appropriate in baseball.

If you banged your head against the wall for every defeat in major league ball, where at the minimum you’ll drop 60 games a season, you wouldn’t have a wall. And maybe not much of a head either.

Yes, A’s manager Bob Melvin did a bit of what should have been or could have been Saturday after the leadoff and walkoff home run in the 11th by DJ LeMahieu gave the Yankees a 4-3 victory.

Didn’t the A’s leave the bases loaded in the seventh, eighth and ninth? When that happens, even if you scored a run in the seventh, there’s trouble.

Didn’t Aaron Judge soar above the fence in right field in the 10th to steal a probable home from Oakland’s Matt Chapman — "All Rise” is Judge's slogan in New York — after he homered in the eighth to the game?

And didn’t Melvin ruminate about all that? “Chapman has a homer unless you’ve got a 10-foot outfielder in right field,” he mused. (To be accurate, Judge is only 6-7, but a little exaggeration is acceptable.)

This game was a disappointment for the A’s. And a joy for the Yankees, especially since it was played before 44,412 fans in one of the landmark venues in sports. 

Sure the ballpark isn’t the exact one — the House That Ruth Built, erected in 1923, where the Babe and Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio and Mickey played. But this one, finished in 2009, is across the street. And still the only proper way to get there is on the No. 4 subway, with dozens of fans in pinstriped Yankee attire. One was a shrine, the other is a monument.

Everybody knows Yankees history, including ballplayers. New York hasn’t won a World Series for a while, but they are one of the best clubs in the game, a standard by which other teams rate themselves.

“We played really well,” said Homer Bailey, the A’s starting pitcher. He has a sense of perspective. But after going 5.2 innings, allowing two home runs to Gary Sanchez, only two other hits and striking out nine, what Bailey didn’t have was a win or a loss.

“You got two good teams going at each other,” said Bailey. “You can’t win every game. You’re going to lose some tight ones. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.”

Melvin, as a manager who’s trying to keep young players believing, did find the upbeat side of a game that from the Oakland viewpoint would have been at the least a semi-downer. No, you’re not going to sweep the Yankees, so move on was Melvin's idea.

Leaving the bases loaded in three consecutive innings and a total of 15 for the game? “You’re always looking for a silver lining,” said Melvin. “We loaded the bases, which means we're grinding out walks and putting runners in scoring position, not going out one, two three.”  

He also liked the relief performances of Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino, even though Trivino, after keeping the Yankees scoreless in the 10th, gave up LeMahieu’s game-winner in the 11th.

“He was good,” Melvin said of Trivino, “other than that one pitch.” 

Let’s let it stand right there.

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