Neil Walker plays the hero as Yankees find a way in extras
Maybe there is a place for Neil Walker with the Yankees, after all.
The switch-hitter continued his Yankee resurgence Saturday with a game-winning single in the bottom of the 11th in a 7-6 win over the A’s.
With runners on first and second and one out, Walker singled to center off Chris Hatcher to score Gary Sanchez from second for another walk-off hit in The Bronx that helped the Yankees avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Giancarlo Stanton drew a one-out walk and was forced out on Sanchez’s grounder before Aaron Hicks walked, setting up Walker’s winning hit.
Right-hander A.J. Cole, who hadn’t pitched since April 28, tossed two scoreless innings for the win.
Aroldis Chapman nearly lost it in the ninth. After he walked the first two batters he faced and a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Chapman unleashed a wild pitch to put both runners in scoring position. Instead of having Dustin Fowler bunt, A’s manager Bob Melvin went to pinch-hitter Chad Pinder.
Chapman walked Pinder, as well, to load the bases with no one out.
He then bent over on the mound and got a quick visit from trainer Steve Donohue, but stayed in the game and struck out Mark Canha to bring up pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy.
Lucroy flied to left and Gardner’s throw was late, but Sanchez’s sweeping tag just got a sliding Matt Olson — who was initially called safe, but the call was overturned to complete the double play and preserve the tie.
Cole also walked the first two batters he faced, but retired the next three.
The Yankees took an early 2-0 lead on their first back-to-back homers of the season, when Sanchez and Hicks went deep in the second.
Domingo Germán, who no-hit Cleveland for six innings in his first start in the majors, finally gave up a hit with one out in the third, when Canha dropped a single in front of Brett Gardner in left.
He then unraveled in the fourth, allowing five runs to give Oakland a 5-2 lead.
The Yankees nearly broke the game open in the third against right-hander Andrew Triggs, when Stanton and Sanchez reached with two outs and Hicks belted one to the track in right.
Khris Davis’ bid for a three-run homer in the fourth worked out better, as his fly ball bounced off the top of the wall and gave Oakland a 3-2 lead. It came immediately after Sanchez went to the mound for a visit with Germán.
The right-hander then walked two more to bring up ex-Yankee Dustin Fowler, who grounded to first, advancing both runners.
Canha checked his swing on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt to keep his at-bat alive then delivered a two-run single to center before getting thrown out trying to stretch to a double.
A sacrifice fly by Jed Lowrie gave the A’s a 6-2 lead in the fifth.
Aaron Judge’s third home run in four games, a two-run shot in the fifth, got the Yankees back into the game.
Didi Gregorius followed with a single through the left side of the infield to snap an 0-for-30 slide and Sanchez walked with one out. After Hicks flied to center, Walker dunked a single into shallow left to score Gregorius and make it 6-5.
Miguel Andujar’s single to left tied the game at 6-6.
Jonathan Holder came on to start the sixth and the Yankees had a chance to take their first lead in the bottom of the inning, as Gardner and Judge led off with walks. Gregorius flied to center and Stanton grounded into a forceout before Sanchez walked to load the bases for Hicks.
Hicks, though, grounded to first to keep the game knotted.
They wasted another opportunity in the eighth, as Gardner led off with a single, moved to second on Judge’s fly ball to the track in center then stole third after Gregorius lined to left, but Stanton whiffed to strand Gardner.
The Yankees’ bullpen was terrific, as Holder, Chad Green and Dellin Betances combined to retire all nine batters they faced.
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