This is how things are going in Yankee Land right now:
The Yankees called up a bunch of no-names to fill out their bullpen on Sunday, the first day rosters expanded.
Then, in a surprise, Aaron Boone used one of them in a moment that mattered. And the call-up failed. Then he used another. Same result. The Yankees seemed on their way to a defeat.
The A’s, meanwhile, called in their best, closer Liam Hendriks, for a potential five-out save. The A’s are locked in a pitched wild card battle with the Indians and Rays, so every game counts.
So who do you think came out on top?
The Yankees, who seemed to take the first seven innings off, scored three in the eighth and two in the ninth on back-to-back homers by Brett Gardner and Mike Ford to beat Oakland, 5-4, before 42,860 at Yankee Stadium.
It was the second straight walk-off win for the Yankees. DJ LeMahieu did the honors with a home run in the 11th inning on Saturday after Aaron Judge tied the score with a homer in the eighth.
“We believe in ourselves right down to the very end even if we’re down by a few runs,” Gardner said. “Our fans, I feel like, feel the same way. So we feel that, we feed off that, and it was a fun day.”
At the end, sure. Sunday’s path to victory was a little more improbable because of Boone’s bullpen decisions after J.A. Happ pitched six shutout innings (98 pitches), allowing one hit.
With most of his main relievers on fumes, Boone called on righthander Ryan Dull, one of four Sunday call-ups, to make his Yankees debut in the seventh inning of a scoreless game. Dull allowed a two-run double by Sheldon Neuse (Neuse’s first big-league hit) and a run-scoring groundout to put the Yankees down 3-0.
Chance Adams, another call-up, gave up a solo homer by Matt Olson in the eighth to give the A's a four-run lead.
“They go up 4-0, it’s a little silent, a little quiet,” Boone said. “We’re not mounting much, and then all of a sudden some really good at-bats . . . allow us to steal that one.”
The Yankees were held to an infield hit in the first five innings by lefthander Sean Manaea, who was making his first start after shoulder surgery last September. They had two hits entering the eighth. Down 4-0, the Yankees could have folded up their tents and waited for a better day.
But, as Happ put it, “Really, I don’t know what the number would be, but we never feel like we’re out of a game. Especially at home. Just showed it today, man. That was big at-bat after big at-bat and then big pops from our guys.”
The big pops started in the eighth when with none out and the bases loaded, Gleyber Torres hit a sacrifice fly to center. The baserunners, LeMahieu at second and Judge at first, both moved up a base, which turned out to be huge when Didi Gregorius stroked a two-out, two-run single against Hendriks to bring the Yankees within a run.
Gardner tied the score with a 396-foot home run to rightfield to begin the ninth. It was his 19th homer of the season.
Clint Frazier, also called up on Sunday, was due next, but Boone called on the lefthanded-hitting Ford to bat for him.
After falling behind 0-and-2 against Hendriks, Ford worked the count full before hitting a 394-foot drive into the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center. He executed a textbook bat flip and then got a Gatorade shower at home plate as the Yankees became the first team to 90 wins.
Ford has 10 home runs. He had 23 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before multiple injuries forced the Yankees to call him up for his first taste of the bigs.
He likes it.
“I don’t think it’s set in yet,” he said of his first walk-off homer. “But I’ve definitely dreamed about it in the past.”
Of the bat flip, Ford said: “I didn’t even realize I did it until I saw the video.”
That’s how things are going in Yankee Land right now.