The last time Adam Rosales had done any serious work as the leadoff hitter anywhere was in 2007 when he was playing in Double-A for Chattanooga.
What worked back then was to “attack the first or second pitch,’’ the A’s shortstop said.
“Generally, those were the best pitches I was going to see all day,’’ he explained.
So when he came to Yankee Stadium Friday and saw his name in a Major League lineup leading off for the first time, he wanted to think how he wanted to approach that first at-bat.
Leadoff men generally set the stage. The frequently take lots of pitches, both trying to see if they can work a walk and so their teammates can see what the opposing starting pitcher is throwing.
Rosales just didn’t see that working for him. He talked it over with outfielder Chris Young, seeking advice.
“He told me to do what I’ve always done,’’ Rosales said. “So I went up there thinking I was going to swing at the first pitch.’’
He got a fastball from C.C. Sabathia, a pitch the left-hander was apparently thinking Rosales would take. It took off and lanced in the cheap seats in left field. That gave the A’s a 1-0 lead and they never looked back en route to a 2-0 win.
“I’m up there trying to make contact, not trying to hit it out,’’ Rosales said after his 12th career homer, his first this season. “I know C.C. likes to be aggressive coming out of the box. I thought it might be the best pitch I’d see all night.’’
“After that, I didn’t see many fastballs,’’ Rosales said. “There were a lot of changeups. It turned out it was the best pitch I saw all night.’’
–Sean Doolittle had some bad memories of Yankee Stadium.
He comes from New Jersey, and he had masses of friends and family on hand last Sept. 22 when he took the mound in the 14th inning and was touched by a walkoff homer from Russell Martin.
That was bitter, because the A’s were in a pennant race at the time and couldn’t afford the loss, although Oakland would go on to win the American League West on the final day of the season.
The left-hander had a dozen or so family members and friends in the stands last night, and there wasn’t going to be any more of that
Asked to take over following a leadoff bunt single against starter A.J. Griffin by Brett Gardner in the eighth inning, Doolittle got Robinson Cano to fly out and Vernon Wells to bounce into a double play.
Doolittle got the first two outs of the ninth inning against lefty hitters Travis Hafner and Ichiro Suzuki before turning the ball over to Grant Balfour to close it out.
“I’m not going to lie,’’ he said. “There was a sense of redemption. But it was so long ago and we (relief pitchers) have short memories.
“I really wanted to do it for Griffin. For him to be able to do what he did, I just wanted to get the ball to Balfour.’’
–The A’s had hopes of seeing Chris Young in the starting lineup this weekend, but after the outfielder ran in the outfield before Friday’s game, that seems less likely.
Bothered by a left quad injury that cropped up last month, Young was hoping he’d be able to run freely and easily. It didn’t happen.
“He wasn’t available (Friday),’’ Melvin said. “And we’ll have to see where he is going forward. Hopefully that will come soon.’’
Melvin said Young was not able to run at all freely.
–Nate Freiman had a day a kid just dreams about.
He got a start in Yankee Stadium with many of his family members in the crowd having driven down from Boston.
The starting pitcher for the Yankees was their ace, C.C. Sabathia, and Freiman got three at-bats against him. All three were hits.
And he only missed an RBI because his third hit, which came with Derek Norris on second base, was hit so hard and directly to right fielder Ichiro Suzuki that Norris had no chance but to hold at third base.
In the end, however, Melvin pinch-hit Brandon Moss of Freiman against right-handed reliever Adam Warren with two out and two on in the seventh.
“Nate had a big day,’’ the manager said. “You hate to pitch hit for a guy who’s three-for-three. But Mossy’s defense has been good and that was what we needed in that situation.’’
–It’s been a tough last two games for A’s outfielder Seth Smith. He’s had 10 at-bats, gone hitless in all of them and struck out eight times, four times Wednesday against the Angels and four more times Friday against the Yankees.
That’s back-to-back four strikeout games for a guy who only had one four-strikeout games in all of 2012.
Smith, a left-hander, generally doesn’t start against left-handed pitching, but he does not, both because he began the season 8-for-12 against lefties and because injuries to Coco Crisp and Chris Young force the issue.
Both of the last two starts have come against lefties, C.J. Wilson of the Angels and C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees. Things may be looking up. The Yankees are throwing a right-hander, Phil Hughes, Saturday.