New York 3, Oakland 1 (WPA Graph from Fangraphs)
A's Current Record: 9-7
Phil Hughes pitched a great game last night...probably. Why do I say a guy who had a no hitter through seven, walked two, and struck out ten probably pitched a great game? Because the A's offense gave Hughes a fair amount of help putting up such an impressive line. I don't want to take away too much from Hughes' performance, he did pound the strike zone, throwing 70 of his 101 pitches for strikes and his fastball had both velocity and movement. He did make mistakes, though, and the A's failed to capitalize. He left some fastballs up in the zone - Chavez' flyout in the fifth comes to mind - and the A's just couldn't make any hard contact. If the Doug Fisters and Jason Vargases of the league are going to give the A's a hard time, then when a guy with the stuff Hughes has throws strike after strike, the A's have no chance.
The good news coming out of the game was Ben Sheets. While he still didn't look especially dominating or sharp, he kept a very good offense in check. He still threw too many pitches out of the strike zone, 40 of his 96 pitches were balls, but for the most part he kept the ball down and didn't give up too many hard hit balls (unfortunately he gave up two in a row in the fourth). He also looked strong in his last inning of work, getting A-Rod, Cano, and Posada out in order in the sixth. In his previous starts he seemed to wear down in the fifth and sixth innings.
Unfortunately, the bad news from yesterday, even excluding the A's offensive performance, outweighs the good. Mark Ellis was placed on the DL with a strained hamstring. Travis Buck was a late scratch from the game with an oblique injury and Jerry Blevins had to leave the game early with back spasms. Adam Rosales has looked pretty good in place of Ellis this past week, but I'd much prefer Ellis out there as the regular with Rosales playing only occasionally. Buck can probably be replaced with Gabe Gross, but Buck looked like he was starting to hit the ball harder with a home run and a hard line drive out on Tuesday.
It'd be nice if the A's could salvage a win today against CC Sabathia, but I'm not confident they will. We'll see how Braden fares against the Yankee hitters. He'll have to be almost perfect because I don't expect the A's to put up a lot of runs against Sabathia. At least the Yankees have used both Chamberlain and Rivera in consecutive games so they might get a crack at the back end of New York's bullpen. This assumes that Sabathia doesn't just throw a complete game, which, given how the A's offense has looked the past few days, isn't at all out of the question.