Fountain of youth revitalizes improving A's

Chapman, Cotton, Healy and Pinder play key roles in sweep of Yanks

Fountain of youth revitalizes improving A's

OAKLAND -- The A's are getting younger, and potentially better.

New life was injected into the clubhouse last week, when they pulled the trigger on third-base prospect Matt Chapman's promotion to signal the continuation of the changing of the guards. The A's are 4-0 in the Chapman era, after completing a four-game sweep of the American League East-leading Yankees by way of a 4-3 victory at the Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.

Oakland pulled off the same feat against New York on July 19-22, 2012, a month that concluded with a 19-5 record that catapulted the club into a second-half frenzy. By season's end, an A's team that wasn't expected to contend was crowned AL West champions.

"It's a big series, especially for these younger guys," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We did this in '12, and that was the springboard for us to do what we did. I'm not comparing it to '12, I'm just saying we had a big series against these guys in '12 and all the younger guys we had here gained confidence because of it, and if you're a Matt Chapman or a Chad Pinder, guys that are just getting here, to know that you can have a series like this gives you a lot of confidence, not only for yourself, but as a team."

The A's remain far from reach of striking distance in the AL West, but that doesn't take away from their desire to compete with a young core that's eyeing a better future.

"The vibe is good right now. It's growing," said A's starter Jharel Cotton, who worked 6 1/3 innings with three runs allowed in his first win May 4. "I think we're confident. I just love it."

Cotton on Father's Day

The A's had not been able to secure a sweep in any series since September of last season, and not since May 30-June 1 had they done so within the friendly confines of home.

The Coliseum stage showcased big performances from several of the club's rookies over the weekend. Though Chapman went hitless in three at-bats in the finale, he totaled three hits in the series, including the game-winning two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning for his first big league hit Friday.

Pinder finished the series 5-for-13 with a key knock Sunday, lacing a two-run double in the A's four-run third. This coming a day after Ryon Healy, not long ago carrying around rookie status, belted two homers. Then there was Cotton, who fought his way through an intimidating Yankees lineup to ensure rest for much of a tired Oakland bullpen.

Pinder's two-run double

"This kind of puts us back in that mindset that we can keep up with the best teams in baseball, and we can beat them," outfielder Matt Joyce said. "This was a huge series for us to be able to get us on the right track and to have that mentality of really believing in ourselves again. We've gotta keep going, keep playing really good baseball."

Added Sean Doolittle: "This feels really good to put four games together against a team that's that good, one of the best teams in the American League. It's really big for us."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.