NEW YORK (AP) — Mark Canha began Tuesday with 12 at-bats, seven of which were strikeouts, and an .083 batting average.
“He is definitely the guy that is getting the short end of the stick here,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said before batting practice. “It’s just been a tough go for him more than anybody else as far as at-bats.”
Given a chance, Canha came through and gave the Athletics yet another one-run win.
After Jed Lowrie doubled in the 11th inning for his fourth hit of the night, Canha singled off the glove of a diving Didi Gregorius at shortstop to drive in the go-ahead run in a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees.
“I played in the minor leagues for four years, and I got sick of that really fast. So, honestly, I’m just happy to be in the major leagues,” said Canha, who actually spent five seasons in the minors. “Whether it’s on the bench or playing, I’m a happy camper doing both and rooting for the boys.”
Melvin had been concerned about the state of mind of the 27-year-old, who hit .254 with 16 homers and 70 RBIs as a rookie with the A’s last season.
“You try to give him a little bit of a pep talk,” the manager said. “He goes, ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m going to keep working. I’ll be ready when my number’s called.’”
Canha entered the game in the ninth inning against Yankees closer Andrew Miller, who had struck out his seven previous batters.
“It’s not like I gave him a day at the beach with his first at-bat,” Melvin said.
Canha struck out on three pitches.
“You have at-bats like that sometimes, and it kind of locks you in for the next one,” Canha said.
Yankees rookie Johnny Barbato (1-1) pitched a perfect 10th, but Lowrie doubled into the right-field corner against him with one out in the 11th, then took third on a groundout by Khris Davis, who had struck out in his previous three at-bats.
Up came Canha.
“As long as it wasn’t Miller. I think I would have been happy with anyone else,” Canha said.
He fell behind 0-2, then hit a slider off Gregorius’ glove for his second RBI this season.
“I just tried to make it too good and left it up,” Barbato said. “It didn’t break.”
Fernando Rodriguez (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings, and Ryan Madson got three straight outs for his fifth save in five chances as Oakland (7-7) won its third straight following a four-game losing streak. The A’s are 5-3 in one-run games. They did not get their fifth one-run victory last year until June 15 and finished 19-35, according to STATS.
“We know we can win ‘em this year,” Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said. “I think that what happened last year is we got off to such a bad start in close games that it started to become, well, they’re going to get us at some point, or, man, we’re really going to have to get lucky today to win this close game.”
New York starter Michael Pineda allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings. Oakland’s Eric Surkamp pitched 5 2/3 innings, one shy of his big league high, and gave up two runs and seven hits.
Alex Rodriguez’s RBI single in the first was negated by Marcus Semien’s run-scoring single on a 3-0 pitch in the second. Carlos Beltran’s sacrifice fly put the Yankees ahead 2-1 in the fifth, but Danny Valencia tripled off the glove of diving left fielder Brett Gardner leading off the sixth and scored on Lowrie’s one-out single through the drawn-in infield.
When it was over, Melvin was buzzing about Canha.
“If you watch him in pregame, he’s playing like it’s a game,” he said. “He’s shagging balls in left. He’s shagging balls in right. First base — taking ground balls. He takes it seriously.”
Valencia made a diving backhand catch on Aaron Hicks’ sixth-inning liner to third. Gregorius went deep into the shortstop hole to snag two grounders in the bottom half and threw out Semien and pinch-hitter Coco Crisp, whose hitless streak reached 15 at-bats.
Athletics: RHP Henderson Alvarez, recovering from shoulder surgery last July 28, is to throw three innings or about 45 pitches for Class A Stockton in an injury rehabilitation assignment Wednesday.
New York’s Nathan Eovaldi (0-1) is scheduled to start Wednesday’s middle game of the series against Kendall Graveman (0-1).