OAKLAND (AP) — The Oakland Athletics can only hope that the help they are expecting from the minors will come soon enough to spark their dormant offense.
The A’s concluded a lackluster homestand by being shut out for the second time, managing just five singles against Hiroki Kuroda and Rafael Soriano in a 2-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday that extended their losing streak to a season-long five games.
“We’re beyond pressing at this point,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We have to try to relax. We’re trying too hard. We’re going to try a little easier.”
The A’s are hoping to get a boost when third baseman Brandon Inge (strained right groin) is activated from the disabled list on Monday in Minnesota. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (strained left hand) will start a rehab assignment that day at Triple-A Sacramento and will likely be back Friday in Kansas City.
Then there is Manny Ramirez, who is eligible to be activated from his 50-game drug suspension on Wednesday. With Ramirez struggling to drive the ball in the minors, the A’s had been leaning toward waiting to activate Ramirez. A 1-5 homestand in which the A’s scored eight runs and batted .157 against the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels could alter those plans.
“We’d like to see the at-bats get better, we’d like to see him drive some balls,” Melvin said. “We had targeted a date for a reason and based on the fact that we are not swinging the bats like we would like, maybe that expedites it a little bit. We’ll still monitor what he’s doing day to day in the next couple of days.”
Kuroda pitched eight scoreless innings and Andruw Jones hit a solo homer as the Yankees won their season-high fifth straight game.
Derek Jeter singled to lead off the game for his 3,155th career hit, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer George Brett to move into sole possession of 14th place all-time.
“He’s been the backbone of this organization for a long, long time and when a guy like that passes you, I’d like to shake his hand and look him in the eye and say congratulations,” Brett said in a statement released by the Yankees.
It’s the fourth Hall of Famer that Jeter has passed this month, following Tony Gwynn, Robin Yount and Paul Waner. Next up on the list is Cal Ripken at 3,184.
“It’s humbling when you hear those names because any name you pass is a Hall of Fame guy,” Jeter said. “It’s pretty special but I’m not thinking about it.”
The Yankees got off to a strong start to their nine-game road trip by sweeping the three-game series in Oakland, extending their winning streak at the Coliseum to nine games. That is tied for the second-longest winning streak ever by a road team in Oakland, trailing only Baltimore’s 13-game run from 1976-79.
The lack of Oakland hitting wasted another strong home start from rookie Tommy Milone (6-4), who escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first and limited New York to Jones’ second-inning homer before tiring in the seventh.
Milone allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings, leaving after Mark Teixeira’s RBI double made it 2-0. This was the first time in five home starts that Milone allowed more than one earned run and that proved to be far too much to overcome as the A’s were shut out for the eighth time this season.
“Obviously the team is struggling a little bit and you want to keep the team on top,” Milone said. “Sometimes it’s hard because you feel like you have to make the perfect pitch every pitch, and sometimes it gets away from you. You’ve got to go out and pitch your game and hopefully it works out.”
After allowing a leadoff single to Jemile Weeks, Kuroda retired the next 11 hitters. The A’s got two hits in the fifth but Kila Ka’aihue hit into a double play after Seth Smith’s leadoff single.
The only real trouble Kuroda faced came in the seventh when the A’s put runners on first and third with one out. But Kuroda struck out Ka’aihue and got Josh Donaldson to fly out to end the threat.
Soriano pitched the ninth for his fifth save in as many chances.
NOTES: Yankees C Russell Martin sat for a second straight day with a stiff neck. ... Oakland OF Coco Crisp stole two bases in the seventh to give him 29 straight successful steals, breaking Stan Javier’s Oakland record of 28. ... Travis Blackley will make his first major league start for Oakland since 2007 in the opener of a three-game series in Minnesota on Monday.