NEW YORK — CC Sabathia felt he was hitting his spots and making some good pitches. He also had to work hard because Adam Rosales and the Oakland Athletics refused to make it easy for him.
Sabathia gave up a home run to Rosales on his first pitch of the game, and the Athletics rode a fine performance by A.J. Griffin to beat the New York Yankees 2-0 on Friday night.
“I had good stuff but they kept fouling off pitches,” Sabathia said.
With Joba Chamberlain having gone on the disabled list before the game with an oblique strain and David Robertson unavailable this series because of soreness in the area where the left knee meets the hamstring, manager Joe Girardi was counting on Sabathia to go deep in the game. He was at 93 pitches through five innings, though, and showed signs of fatigue in the sixth.
Yoenis Cespedes walked leading off the sixth and went to third base on a line drive by Josh Donaldson that right fielder Ichiro Suzuki appeared to lose in the lights. Suzuki stopped tracking the ball as it zipped by and hit off the wall. Donaldson was nailed trying to stretch the hit at second base for the first out. Sabathia gave up an RBI single to Derek Norris before getting out of the inning.
“CC worked hard to keep the game 2-0. Getting the last out of the sixth inning was huge,” Girardi said. “There were lots of long counts in the sixth inning and then Warren came in and kept us in the game, but we couldn’t get any runs.”
Adam Warren gave up two hits in three innings after Sabathia yielded eight hits and two runs. The lefty walked two and struck out six.
Sabathia took exception with what he thought was unfair treatment by plate umpire Jordan Baker in the third inning on a 2-2 pitch and Girardi had to make a mound visit to calm his ace.
“I think he thought he was being shown up. That wasn’t the case,” catcher Chris Stewart said. “The pitch before was close, and then (Baker) heard CC talking to himself. I can see where the miscommunication can happen.”
Sabathia “told (Baker) that he didn’t like being yelled at,” Stewart said.
The Yankees lost for just the second time in eight games on a 10-game homestand. They mustered only six hits in Girardi’s 1,000th game as a big league manager.
Griffin (3-2) serenaded his teammates in the visiting clubhouse with guitar and song in English, Spanish and French before preparing for his sixth start of the season.
“It’s a good way to just to kind of clear your mind and just get ready to go out there and play a ballgame,” Griffin said. “The one thing I just don’t want is for people to just think I don’t care. Obviously I care. That’s kind of how I do it.”
Coming off two losses in which he allowed 11 earned runs and 13 hits in 11 innings, Griffin was smooth on the mound, too.
“You expect him to have a good start all the time based on what we’ve seen since we called him up last year,” Melvin said.
The Yankees had two runners on base only once, in the third inning, and Griffin needed only nine pitches in the each of the fourth through sixth innings. He struck out four, walked one and was removed for Sean Doolittle after Brett Gardner’s bunt single to start the eighth.
“Griffin made good pitches all night and kept hitters off balance,” Vernon Wells said.
Grant Balfour got the final out for his fourth save this season and 22nd in a row since blowing one on April 29, 2012, securing Oakland’s first nine-inning shutout of the year.
Rosales was batting leadoff for the first time in his career because Coco Crisp is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. He hit an 89 mph fastball from Sabathia (4-3) deep into the to left field stands.
The A’s didn’t threaten again until the fifth, when Nate Freiman, who had three hits, and Rosales singled. But Seth Smith hit a lazy fly to left field for the second out. Robinson Cano kept it a one-run game when he ranged far behind second base to field Jed Lowrie’s bouncer and threw across his body to just nip Lowrie at first to end the inning. A’s manager Bob Melvin briefly let his objection to the call be known to first base umpire Chris Conroy, filling in for Tim McClelland, who was delayed.
NOTES: Yankees CF Curtis Granderson (broken right forearm) worked out on the field at the team’s complex in Tampa, Fla., but the extended spring training game was canceled by weather. … The Yankees announced Robertson would be their spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Project. …. The Yankees purchased the contract of RHP Preston Claiborne from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. … Sabathia gave up one other homer on the game’s first pitch. Detroit’s Austin Jackson did it on Aug. 17, 2010.