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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09: Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees hist a 2-run single in the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium on July 9, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Series Recap: Yankees vs. A’s

The Yankees played their first full series of the second half of the season this week and showed many of the same characteristics that they did in the first half. They played with grit and tenacity and, after losing a hard-fought first game, they took the final two games of the series against the Oakland A’s.

The first game was a bit of a heartbreaker. After taking a 3-2 lead after 5 innings, the normally outstanding Yankees bullpen couldn’t keep it together after Nathan Eovaldi went 5.1 innings and allowed 2 runs. Billy Butler hit a game-tying homer off of Chasen Shreve, who has been a rock all year, in the 6th inning. The game remained locked up until the 10th, when Dellin Betances allowed a go-ahead homer to Brett Lawrie which wound up being the deciding factor in a 4-3 win for the A’s. Stephen Vogt had 2 hits for Oakland, and he, Josh Reddick, Butler, and Lawrie each had an RBI.

The Yankees took the lead in the first off of Sonny Gray on back-to-back RBI singles by Brian McCann and Garrett Jones. From there, the only run that New York could muster up was a Didi Gregorius RBI single in the 4th. Gray went 7, allowing those 3 runs and 6 hits. The Yankees couldn’t get a hit off of the A’s bullpen after Gray departed. Jones was the offensive star, with 2 hits and an RBI as no one else in the Yankees lineup had a multi-hit game.

Wednesday’s game marked the return of Andrew Miller, who had been on the DL with a forearm strain. The Yankees needed him in the 9th and, after allowing a 2-run jack to Marcus Semien, got the final two outs to close out a 5-4 win for the Yanks. They took the lead for good in the 4th on the strength of a Mark Teixeira homer and a Jose Pirela sac fly. Stephen Drew‘s pinch hit solo donger in the bottom of the 8th turned out to be a much needed insurance run after Miller allowed those two in the 9th. Teixeira had a monster game, homering twice and getting on base three times. He added two RBI to his AL-leading total, now up to 62 after this series. John Ryan Murphy added two hits as well.

Other than the homer by Semien in the 9th, the A’s could only manage 2 RBI singles in the 2nd off of CC Sabathia. He pitched into the 6th and allowed just those two runs. The bridge of Bryan Mitchell, Justin Wilson, and Dellin Betances was lights out, allowing just one baserunner to get to Miller, who no doubt was nervous in his first inning back from injury. Billy Burns had 2 hits out of the leadoff spot for Oakland, as did Semien, who also led the team with his 2 RBI.

The Yankees cruised in Thursday’s rubber game. Brett Gardner homered and had three hits on the day that he was chosen to replace injured outfielder Alex Gordon on t AL All-Star team. Oakland starter Jesse Chavez could manage just 5 innings giving up 4 runs but allowing 7 hits and 3 walks. Besides the homer by Gardy, the Yankees tagged Chavez by way of a Teixeira RBI single and a Jacoby Ellsbury 2-run single in just his 2nd game back. In the 8th, Oakland reliever Fernando Rodriguez allowed 2 unearned runs via a Semien throwing error on a grounder by Ellsbury. In a surprising move, Cole Figueroa started at 3rd for the Yankees and had 2 of the Yankees 8 hits.

Masahiro Tanaka was wonderful for New York. He nearly went 8, and surrendered just 2 hits and 2 runs. Those 2 hits were doubles in the 2nd inning by Billy Butler and Mark Canha. Shreve and Adam Warren pitched the final 1.1 innings to seal the series victory.

A promising start to the second half of their season, let’s look at who performed the best (and the worst) in these three games:

Offensive MVP: Brett Gardner– The newly crowned All-Star went 5-11 with a homer and at least a hit in each game.

Offensive Slug: Alex Rodriguez– After many said he deserved to be in the ASG, he went 0-8in 2 starts.

Pitcher of the Series: Masahiro Tanaka– 7.2 innings, 2 hits. Need I say more?

Pitching Nightmare: No pitcher is deserving of this award this series. All three starters gave up 2 runs, and the bullpen as a whole did a great job.