I’m not sure the data backs this up, but the Yankees seem to really struggle in Oakland, right?
That’s just a gut feeling, likely based on a few select road sweeps since I’ve been allowed to stay up for West Coast games and waking up groggy and mad the next morning for school. Meanwhile, the 2012 and 2017 sweeps were wakeup calls to those Yankee teams at midseason.
Still, the Yankees have had some great games at the Oakland Coliseum. Even when the Bombers lose two straight and are on the verge of a sweep as they are right now, it’s worth remembering that.
In fact, the Athletics are one of just three American League teams to have met the Yankees in the postseason and not win at least one series against them (Orioles, Twins). So with that in mind, here are nine Yankees-in-Oakland games worth remembering with a heavy recency bias (If you have another game, mention it in the comments or on Twitter!).
Bartolo Throws a Shutout
On Memorial Day 2011, Bartolo Colon was at the height of his Yankee powers. Teaming with Freddy Garcia, he was one of a couple stopgaps in the rotation that season after Andy Pettitte retired and Phil Hughes was limited by injuries. Colon had missed the entire 2010 season and the idea that he would be effective in New York in his age 38 season was dubious at best.
But for one day in Oakland, the big man was dominant. He nearly tossed a Maddux as he four-hit the A’s without a walk in his nine frames. I just remember being amazed that a guy could throw basically all fastballs and dominate a team at his age. It may have been PED assisted, but it was glorious.
Giambi ends a marathon
Ending past 1:30 a.m. back in New York, the April 14, 2007 game between the A’s and Yankees was a wild one. It featured starters Darrell Rasner and Joe Blanton, one of whom would be in the World Series a year later.
The Yankees trailed 3-0 after an inning, then didn’t give up another run over the final 12 frames to win 4-3 in 13. New York got 7.2 innings scoreless from seven relievers, namely Sean Henn, Scott Proctor, Mike Myers, Luis Vizcaino, Kyle Farnworth, unanimous Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera and Brian Bruney.
Jason Giambi, meanwhile, was in his worst season with the Yankees, yet he found some heroics in his former digs, smashing a solo homer off Lenny DiNardo in the 13th.
Opening Day 2006
Remember the Yankees scoring 15 runs on Opening Day in 2006 and Alex Rodriguez hitting a majestic grand slam? I sure do. I went to sleep almost immediately after that dinger, knowing full well the Yankees were going to be 1-0 on the season.
The Yankees started out west in ’06 and had Randy Johnson on the hill in their first game. They made it easy for the Big Unit, scoring seven runs in the second inning, capped by that A-Rod slam. They’d win 15-2 and then lost their next four games. Save some runs for the next day!
The Yankees Beat Arthur Rhodes, 2004 Edition
Arthur Rhodes has to hate the Yankees, right? It seems like at every big moment in his career (outside of the 2011 World Series), the Yankees were there to torment him. They beat his team in the 1996, 2000 and ’01 ALCS, and handed him so many regular season defeats. He had a 7.43 ERA against them in 86 innings.
In ’04, A-Rod was the one to get to him. Rhodes tried to close out a 3-2 lead on May 5 after Barry Zito outdueled Kevin Brown. Instead, Rodriguez took him deep on the first pitch of his outing and Tony Clark hit a go-ahead double five batters later. Mo made it interesting by allowing two singles to start the ninth, but he closed the door from there.
2000 ALDS Game 2
The Yankees started on the road in the 2000 ALDS and lost Game 1. That made Game 2 more or less a must win. Joe Torre, as he so often did, turned to Andy Pettitte for that big Game 2 and the lefty came through.
Pettitte allowed just one hit over the first five innings of a scoreless game until the Yankees broke through against Kevin Appier en route to a 4-0 win. The southpaw allowed just six men to reach base over 7.2 innings while Rivera closed it out. A forgettable, yet highly important playoff win.
2000 ALDS Game 5
After losing Game 4 of the 2000 ALDS, the Yankees had to fly across the country to play the next day. They came out swinging.
The Bombers got six sun-aided runs in the first inning and held on with a scoreless bullpen performance to beat the Athletics, 7-5. The big hit was Tino Martinez’s three-run double to center field that would have been a flyout with a better center fielder or without a blazing sun.
2001 ALDS Game 4
OK, so you probably know the last game I’m going to mention, but this one came after it. The Yankees, down 2-1 in the best-of-five ALDS, needed a win on the road and weren’t going to let this one be a nailbiter. They cruised to a 9-2 win over the Athletics.
The star in this one was Bernie Williams, who had three hits, five RBI and a walk. This was Williams near the peak of his powers and the late Cory Lidle had no answer.
Meanwhile, I’ll mostly remember this game for Jermaine Dye breaking his leg on a foul ball. I won’t link the video because it’s awful, but it’s on the internet if you’re a masochist.
1981 ALCS Game 3
Ha! You thought it’d be the other 2001 ALDS Game here, but I got you! Instead, let’s go all the way back to 1981 for the best-of-five ALCS between the Yankees and Billy Martin’s Oakland Athletics. This was the time of Billy Ball, as George Steinbrenner had already fired Martin and had yet to re-hire him, allowing him to frolic in the Bay Area.
The Yankees handily took the first two games of the series in the Bronx and merely had to win one in Oakland to grab the series. They won Game 3, 4-0, though it was a scoreless game into the sixth inning as rookie Dave Righetti clashed with Matt Keough.
Keough broke first, allowing a solo homer to Willie Randolph. After Righetti had already handed it off the Bombers’ dominant duo of Ron Davis and Goose Gossage, ALCS MVP Graig Nettles hit a three-run double in the ninth inning to clinch the game. Gossage would then close it out.
The Flip Play
This game was one of the finest moments in the career of Mike Mussina, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter. For Jeter and Posada, it was the signature defensive play while Posada provided the game’s only run with a solo shot. His bloop double in the Aaron Boone game surely outranks this, but it was a huge homer nonetheless.
Meanwhile, the Hall of Fame starter tossed seven scoreless frames before giving way to his fellow 2019 inductee, as Rivera closed down a two-inning save.
But if you scrolled down to see the Flip Play, I won’t disappoint.