|Homefield advantage is often one of the most exaggerated aspects of sport, an intangible factor that doesn't always translate into winning. Need an example to support that statement? Just look at last season's ALDS, when Oakland and New York both lost crucial games at home. The Yanks dropped Game 4 in New York by an embarrassing margin, 11-1, then went on the road to win the decisive game, 7-5.
Of course, that's just one side of the coin. A quick glance at this year's results between these two teams tells a completely different story. In 2001, the home team won all nine games played between the Yankees and A's, with Oakland winning six of them.
What does this mean for the upcoming ALDS, a rematch between these two squads? Most likely, it doesn't mean anything, because the records are wiped clean in the second season. This series will be decided by the players on the field, not the stadiums they play in. Still, with the regular season set shaking out the way it did, it's worth looking into how it happened.
In late April, the A's visited New York for the only time of the season. Oakland was reeling at the time. After going 2-10 in their first 12 games, the A's stood at 8-14 as this series started. Meanwhile, the Yanks were also struggling. They opened the season with an 11-11 mark, but right before the Oakland series, the Bronx Bombers were on the short end of a Yankee Stadium sweep by the Seattle Mariners.
Yankees, 3 Athletics 2 -- April 27 at Yankee Stadium
Oakland took a 2-0 lead in the first three innings. Miguel Tejada provided one of those runs with a solo shot off Orlando Hernandez in the second inning. One inning later, Johnny Damon scored the other run for the A's. Damon singled, stole second, moved to third on a walk and scored on a ground ball.
The Yanks got even in the fifth inning, pushing two runs across the plate. David Justice reached base on a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit by Scott Brosius. Chuck Knoblauch followed with an infield single, and Derek Jeter knocked in the tying run with a single to center field.
Tino Martinez provided the go-ahead run with a solo homer in the sixth inning, and the Yankee bullpen took over from there. Randy Choate, Mike Stanton and Mariano Rivera combined to throw four hitless innings. The three relievers allowed only two baserunners, and Choate (2-0) earned the victory as a result. Rivera got five outs to record his fourth save.
Oakland 011 000 000 - 2 3 1
New York 000 021 00X - 3 8 0
WP: Choate (2-0) LP:
Mulder (2-2) S: Rivera (4) -- HR: Tejada (5); T. Martinez (4)
Yankees 7, Athletics 6 -- April 28 at Yankee Stadium
The Yankees rushed out to a 4-0 lead against Tim Hudson, Oakland's ace. Hudson allowed seven hits in the first four innings alone, and New York scored all four runs during that span. In the top of the fifth, the A's got back into the game, reaching Ted Lilly for three runs. Adam Piatt walked, went to third on a double by Olmedo Saenz and scored on a wild pitch. Catcher Ramon Hernandez hit a two-run homer to cut the Yankee advantage to one run.
In the bottom of that inning, Martinez came up big for the Yankees yet again. He hit a double to deep right field, scoring Paul O'Neill with an insurance run. The home team added another two runs in the bottom of the sixth, courtesy of a home run by Chuck Knoblauch. Hudson, who would eventually take the loss to drop his record to 2-3, allowed 12 hits and six runs in seven innings pitched.
Rivera earned another save for the Yanks, but this time he walked a tightrope to do it. With an inherited runner on base and the score at 7-4, Rivera gave up a two-run homer to Saenz. After that, Rivera got two straight outs to preserve the win. That victory held even greater significance -- it was No. 500 for Joe Torre as a Yankee, elevating him to a plateau reached by only five other Yankee managers.
Oakland 000 030 012 - 6 4 0
New York 002 212 00x - 7 14 1
WP: Lilly (1-0) LP:
Hudson (2-3) S: Rivera (5) -- 2B: Saenz (4); Knoblauch (6), T Martinez (7) --
HR: R Hernandez (1), Saenz (2); Knoblauch (2)
Yankees 3, Athletics 1 -- April 29 at Yankee Stadium
There was some more history the this day, in the final game at Yankee Stadium. Roger Clemens struck out five batters to pass Gaylord Perry for sixth place on the all-time strikeout list. Perhaps more importantly, the Rocket held the A's in check for 7 1/3 innings, allowing only four hits over that span. Meanwhile, young Barry Zito engaged him in a pitcher's duel, allowing only five hits in six innings. Both starters allowed only one earned run, but an error turned out to be the difference in the game.
During the fourth inning, with one man on base, Jorge Posada lifted a fly ball to left field. Johnny Damon couldn't make the play, though, committing a two-base error. Martinez, who went to third on that play, scored the winning run on a ground ball. After that, Posada scored an insurance run on a single by Alfonso Soriano.
Rivera worked a scoreless ninth for yet another save, his third in three days.
Oakland 000 001 000 - 1 7 1
New York 001 200 00X - 3 5 1
WP: Clemens (3-0) LP:
Zito (3-2) S: Rivera (6) -- 2B: Menechino (4)
The two teams would meet again in two weeks, this time on the Left Coast. Both the Yankees and A's pointed their season in the right direction during that span. The Yankees won eight of 13 games, pushing their record to 22-16. The A's also turned things around, going 7-5. At 15-22, they were still in a hole, and it didn't seem to be getting much better, with the three-time defending World Series champions visiting their stadium, Network Associates Coliseum.
Athletics 3, Yankees 2 -- May 15 at Network Associates Coliseum
The first game of the series was extremely intriguing. In the first inning, the A's scratched two runs off Clemens. Johnny Damon was instrumental in that effort, as he singled and stole two bases. John Jaha doubled him in to score the game's first run, and Jason Giambi scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
The Yanks answered in the top of the second, scoring an isolated run off Tim Hudson. Alfonso Soriano hit a double to deep left field, scoring Jorge Posada. There would be no more scoring until the sixth inning, when David Justice tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right.
The two bullpens took over from there, throwing zeroes onto the scoreboard. The A's used five relievers, including Mark Guthrie (2-0), who eventually got the win despite only pitching 1/3 of an inning. The Yanks went to Mike Stanton and Ramiro Mendoza, and that combination fared well -- until the 12th inning, at least.
Mendoza allowed the first two batters to reach base in that fateful frame, and then Mark Bellhorn sacrificed both runners over. Mendoza responded by intentionally walking the bases full, setting up a force play. This time, that strategy didn't work, as Adam Piatt stroked a game-winning single.
New York 010 001 000 000 - 2 15 0
Oakland 200 000 000 001 - 3 12 0
WP: Guthrie (2-0) LP: Mendoza (2-1) -- 2B: Soriano (13), Justice (6),
Brosius (8); Jaha (3), Chavez (15)
Athletics 4, Yankees 3 -- May 16 at Network Associates Coliseum
Once again, the A's led for most of the game, until the Yankees made a late charge to force extra innings.
The A's scored two runs off Andy Pettitte in the fourth inning, and Frank Menechino added one more with a solo home run in the fifth. In the seventh inning, Derek Jeter homered off Zito to cut into that gap. After that, the Yankees loaded the bases on two walks and an infield single. Paul O'Neill pushed one more run across by grounding into a double play, effectively killing the rally.
In the ninth, Jeter doubled and scored on a single by Posada, evening the game at three. The A's won the game in the 10th, though, taking advantage of Brian Boehringer. Working his second inning, Boehringer retired the first batter in the 10th, but then he hit a man and allowed a double. Frank Menechino followed with a deep single to win the game.
New York 000 000 201 0 - 3 7 0
Oakland 000 210 000 1 - 4 9 0
WP: Guthrie (3-0) LP: Boehringer (0-1) -- 2B: Brosius (9), Jeter (7);
Damon (7) -- HR: Jeter (3); Menechino (7)
Athletics 8, Yankees 3 -- May 17 at Network Associates Coliseum
After two straight barn burners, the final game of this series was a disappointment. The A's led for most of the game, sweeping the Yankees out of their stadium with an 8-3 win. Oakland took their first lead in the second inning and never relinquished it, with the exception of a brief tie in the sixth inning.
The Yanks scored two in the top of the sixth, tying the game at three, but the A's busted it open after that. Ramon Hernandez, who caught all 31 innings in this series, knocked in the winning run with a double to left-center.
Oakland added four more runs in the seventh, putting the game out of reach. Mike Stanton allowed the first three batters to reach base, and then he allowed a run-scoring single. After that, Todd Williams replaced Stanton, and the first batter he faced hit a double to score two runs. Robin Jennings capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
New York 001 002 000 - 3 6 1
Oakland 020 011 40X - 8 13 0
WP: Bradford (2-1) LP: Mussina
(4-4) -- 2B: Brosius (10), Perez (1), Justice (7); R Hernandez (7),
Tejada (8), Chavez (16)
When the Yanks and A's resumed their rivalry, this time in early August, it was a completely new scenario. Oakland was the hottest team in baseball, sporting a 65-50 record. To get to that point, the A's had to bust out of the gates after the All-Star break. They did exactly that, going 20-7 after the season's intermission.
On the other hand, the Yankees went 17-12 after the All-Star Game, coming into this series with a 69-47 record. At this point of the season, both Oakland and the Yankees had to consider each other serious rivals, as both teams were casting a wary eye on the Wild Card standings.
The A's were up by a half-game over the Red Sox at that point, and Boston was barking on New York's heels in the AL East.
Athletics 8, Yankees 1 -- August 10 at Network Associates Coliseum
The A's smashed the Yankees in the first game of the series, earning an 8-1 win. Ted Lilly, who was starting this game while he appealed a six-game suspension, performed as though he had other things on his mind.
Oakland rocked the left-handed rookie for five runs in the first two innings. He was especially hurt by his lack of control. Lilly walked five batters in those two innings of work.
Three of those runs scored on a homer by Jason Giambi, the AL's reigning MVP. The A's added three more runs in the sixth inning, courtesy of a three-run homer from Jermaine Dye. The Yankees, meanwhile, scratched out their lone run in the eighth inning, long after the outcome had been decided.
New York 000 000 010 - 1 4 0
Oakland 230 003 00X - 8 6 0
WP: Lidle (7-5) LP: Lilly
(3-5) -- 2B: Saenz (16) -- HR: O'Neill (17); Ja Giambi (27), Dye (17)
Athletics 8, Yankees 6 -- August 11 at Network Associates Coliseum
The A's picked up where they left off. Derek Jeter hit a leadoff homer to give the Yanks an early lead, but Giambi erased that with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. His brother, Jeremy, added to that lead in the second inning by stroking a two-run homer of his own. The A's got two more runs on a single by Jermaine Dye, making it 6-1.
New York chipped away at that lead throughout the game, closing to 6-3 in the middle of the fifth. Jeremy Giambi doubled in another run, though, giving Oakland a 7-3 lead. With two one-run innings, the Yanks managed to cut the lead to 7-5. Both teams added another run, but Oakland escaped with an 8-6 win.
New York 101 011 101 - 6 13 0
Oakland 240 010 01X - 8 12 2
WP: Magnante (1-1) LP: Hitchcock (1-2) S:
Isringhausen (23) -- 2B: Justice (13), O'Neill (30); Je Giambi (17), R
Hernandez (19) -- HR: Jeter (13), Soriano (15); Ja Giambi (28), Je Giambi (8)
Athletics 4, Yankees 2 -- August 12 at Network Associates Coliseum
In the final game played between these two teams, Mike Mussina pitched one of his best games of the season. The right-handeder allowed only two hits in eight innings. Now for the bad news -- both of those hits were home runs, back-to-back shots by Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez in the fifth inning.
The Yanks couldn't score anything off Mark Mulder, until the eighth inning at least. With one out and one on, Clay Bellinger hit a two-run homer to tie the game. Torre, playing the percentages, went to his bullpen for the final frame.
Mike Stanton, normally one of New York's most reliable pitchers, couldn't hang on this time. He struck out two batters, but he also walked Johnny Damon. With one man on and two men out, Jason Giambi hit a game-winning homer.
That was it -- three hits, three homers. The season series breaks down just as easily. Nine games, nine wins for the home team. Of course, the postseason probably won't be as predictable. Or will it? You'll have to tune in to find out.
New York 000 000 020 - 2 7 0
Oakland 000 020 002 - 4 3 7
WP: Mulder (15-6) LP: Stanton (7-3) -- 2B:
Be Williams (24) -- HR: Bellinger (2); Tejada (23), Chavez (18), Ja Giambi (29)
Spencer Fordin is the site manager for Yankees.com. He can be