OAKLAND, Calif. -- Where do you begin to write about a game that took nearly six hours, consumed 14 pitchers and saw Mariano Rivera enter a game in the 18th inning? With the final score 3-2, the Athletics beat the Yankees in a marathon that killed two bullpens and at least a half-dozen batting averages.
What it means: After the glow of taking three of four in Seattle, the Yankees head into the final leg of this grueling 10-game, three-city trip coming off a sweep at the hands of the A's, and with very little pitching to back up Andy Pettitte for tomorrow night's opener.
Late shift: In his last regular-season appearance at Oakland Coliseum, Mariano Rivera was pressed into service in the 18th inning, relieving Preston Claiborne with a runner on first and one out. Perhaps unaccustomed to the hours, Mo went to 3-1 on the first hitter he faced, Seth Smith, then allowed a bloop single to left that moved the runner to third. After intentionally walking Jed Lowrie, Nate Freiman, who entered the game in the 15th inning, lined one into short left for the game winner after 5 hours, 35 minutes.
Immovable object: Yankees catcher Chris Stewart, who allowed the A's tying run to score four hours earlier by trying to tag a runner at the plate with an empty glove, prevented the winning run from scoring in the 15th by blocking Brandon Moss' way to the plate -- getting bowled over for his trouble -- after what looked like a game-winning single by pinch hitter Coco Crisp. Vernon Wells, who had a horrendous day at the plate (0-8, 3 Ks), made an excellent throw from medium left to start the play off.
What a waste: The Yankees loaded the bases in the 11th inning with one out on a series of balls that never left the infield -- a bunt single by Brett Gardner that wound up with him on second when pitcher Jerry Blevins threw the ball away; a sacrifice bunt by Jayson Nix; an intentional walk to Robinson Cano; and a pitch that hit Mark Teixeira on the foot. But they got nothing out of it when both Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis struck out, Youkilis looking. It was their first real scoring chance since the sixth inning, when they had Cano on second (double) with one out and failed to score. They had also gotten Ichiro Suzuki to second in the 10th with two out, but Stewart stranded him by striking out, one pitch after just missing an RBI single.
What a waste, Part II: The Yankees got a leadoff double from Cano and an intentional walk to Mark Teixeira in the 13th. But Hafner flied out, and Youkilis and Wells, looking absolutely pathetic, struck out swinging to kill the threat.
One more time: The Yankees loaded the bases yet again in the 14th on a leadoff single by Ichiro and a pair of walks, one of them, you guessed it, intentional, to Cano. But Teixeira, who is now 4-for-his-last-30, popped out to short to snuff that one out.
Almost Perfect: Hiroki Kuroda threw seven perfect innings and one imperfect inning today, and it cost him the chance to win his seventh game of the season. Kuroda retired the first six batters before issuing a leadoff walk that led to two Oakland runs (see below). Then he retired the final 16 batters he faced before giving way to David Robertson in the ninth. His line -- 8 IP, 2H, 2ER -- certainly deserved better than he got, which was nothing.
Great escape: Robertson got himself into trouble by allowing two singles in the ninth inning -- and out of it by striking out the other three hitters he faced to send the game into extra innings.
Power back on: After not hitting a home run for a week, the Yankees finally left the park in the first inning when Cano jacked the first pitch he saw from Jarrod Parker over the center-field wall to give his club an early 2-0 lead. Had the Yankees not homered, it would have been the first time in 17 years they had gone six homerless games, and the first time in 23 years they had not homered in six straight road games.
Power back off: The Yankees had three more hits and a walk in the seven innings following Cano's homer, but only one real scoring chance, when Cano doubled down the first-base line with one out in the sixth. But that went nowhere when Mark Teixeira (4-for-29 on the road trip) struck out and Travis Hafner (2-for-23) hit it hard but right at first baseman Moss to end the inning.
Sleight of hand: Stewart tried to pull a fast one on a play at the plate in the third inning, tagging John Jaso with his empty glove while holding the ball in his bare hand after Smith's double off the right-field wall. But home plate umpire Bucknor correctly called Jaso safe, prompting an argument with Joe Girardi, to no avail. A's tied the game at 2.
Free runs: Kuroda walked two hitters in the third inning and both came around to score on him. Kuroda walked the leadoff hitter, Chris Young, and a single, a double steal and a groundout later, the A's had the first run of the game. Then he walked Jaso, who came around to score on Smith's double when Stewart missed the tag at the plate.
Stop, thief: The A's pulled off an easy double steal with Young and Eric Sogard, setting up their first run, but when Sogard tried to steal third, Stewart gunned him down by a full yard. It was the eighth would-be thief Stewart has thrown out in 18 attempts (44 percent).
Check that: Umpire Bucknor punched out Smith in the bottom of the 11th -- then learned, to his chagrin, that it was only strike two. Smith grounded out to end the inning.
What's next: Short flight to Los Angeles, followed by Game 1 of the three-game weekend series with the Angels, starting tomorrow night in the final leg of this road trip. Andy Pettitte (5-3, 3.82) faces LHP C.J. Wilson (4-5, 4.05), first pitch at 10:05 p.m.