NEW YORK – One out away from what would have been a spectacular return to the major Leagues, Jharel Cotton was stung by a two-run sixth-inning Matt Holliday homer Saturday, just enough to lift the Yankees over the A’s 3-2.
By game’s end the pitching took a back seat to the umpiring, with the A’s worked up at the ball-strike calls of home plate umpire Will Little.
Second baseman Jed Lowrie and manager Bob Melvin both were ejected while complaining over eighth-inning calls, and third baseman Trevor Plouffe seemed to come close to getting tossed.
The A’s struck out 13 times, including all three outs in the eighth, and the called strikes against Plouffe and Chad Pinder came at a extreme cost to Oakland because both men were batting with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
Cotton had allowed a sloppy first inning run, but he was still working on a no-hitter at the time Holliday tied into a 1-0 pitch and lofted it out with a man on base, snapping a 1-all tie. Cotton remained in the game long enough to give up a second hit, but the damage had been done.
After a two-game sojourn with Triple-A Nashville, Cotton saw his 105th pitch saddle him with the loss.
In the first five innings, he’d allowed just two walks and hit a batter. He collected the first two outs in the sixth without trouble, but he walked Gary Sanchez to bring up Holliday, and that proved to be his undoing.
The A’s got one of those runs back in the top of the seventh when Josh Phegley hit a solo homer, his second of the season, and…
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