"My mom tells me that when I'm in the lineup," Cespedes said through his translator, "the team wins more games."
Moms really do know best.
Cespedes, who had mom Estela Milanes in the stands on Sunday afternoon, was one of three A's players to hit a home run, the long ball ultimately making up for the team's woes with runners in scoring position, situations that resulted in an 0-for-9 showing.
But long balls from Cespedes and Luke Montz that helped the club to an early three-run lead were nearly deemed irrelevant when the Yankees came back to tie the A's in the sixth. It was Josh Donaldson's second-deck solo shot off Boone Logan in the eighth that untied the game and proved to be the difference.
Homers aside, closer Grant Balfour kind of stole the show with an eventful ninth.
Balfour picked up two quick outs before Brett Gardner reached first on a broken-bat single to bring up Robinson Cano, who took a strike and watched Gardner advance to second on Balfour's ensuing wild pitch. The count at 1-1, manager Bob Melvin opted to intentionally walk Cano, 4-for-12 lifetime against Balfour.
Vernon Wells, who just so happened to carry with him an even better history (6-for-12) against the right-hander, was up next. Balfour, aware of this, was upset, but he pitched on and struck out Wells on six pitches.
"I hate having to do that," Balfour said of the walk. "You got a guy that swings the bat pretty good and you got to put him on. You want to face everyone. You want to get everyone out.
"[Wells] is a good hitter. He's had plenty of success in his career. Just trying to make it difficult on him, make good pitches. At first there, I was trying to get him to hit a ground ball. When I got later in the count, I'm looking to punch him out."
"Trust me," Melvin said, "I know it's 6-for-12 with two homers sitting right behind [Cano], but in this ballpark and the way Cano's swinging, it was a better option for me. It wasn't an easy decision but one I felt like I had to make."
The strikeout secured Balfour's 23rd consecutive save dating back to a year ago Sunday, a span during which the righty has allowed just two earned runs with 27 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings.
Said Wells: "He won that battle. I'm sure there will be plenty more. Those are the moments you love to be in, everything was set up for another memorable Yankee Stadium moment, and I didn't come through that time."
Oakland left five men on base over the first three innings with lefty Andy Pettitte on the mound, drawing three walks in that time and upping his pitch count but failing to capitalize on multiple scoring chances, their only run over that span the result of a Cano throwing error in the third.
Following Montz's homer in the fourth, Cespedes launched a two-run shot to left field in the fifth to give starter Dan Straily, pitching in place of an injured Brett Anderson, a three-run lead that Jerry Blevins squandered in the sixth, when Lyle Overbay tagged him for a two-run, game-tying bloop single.
But Donaldson saved the day with his third home run of the season, his first since April 12. Montz had waited much longer for his, though.
The 29-year-old's fourth-inning leadoff shot off Pettitte was his first in the Majors since 2008, when Montz played in 10 games with the Nationals before returning to the Minors for more than four years in advance of this past Wednesday's callup.
Montz also collected a double in the second, giving him three hits since his promotion -- the same number he posted in 21 at-bats during his brief September '08 stay with Washington.
"It's been quite some time," Montz said. "2008 seems like a long time ago, but it felt like my first one today. Being at Yankee Stadium against a guy like Andy Pettitte, big game, big win, it makes it that much more special."
"We got contributions across the board today in different ways," Melvin said. "Sometimes it takes a whole group to win a ballgame, and today, that was the case."