The Oakland Athletics (49-44) have been able to slow down the major league-leading New York Yankees (57-36) thanks in large part to impressive efforts from their youthful starting rotation.
Rookie Jarrod Parker will do his best to continue that trend Saturday night as surging Oakland tries to keep things going in the third of four with visiting New York (9:05 p.m. EDT).
The Yankees are -125 road favorites and the total is 7 1/2 (Source: SportsOptions).
After A.J. Griffin – in just his fifth big-league start – gave up two runs over six innings during Thursday’s series-opening 4-3 win, fellow rookie Tommy Milone threw seven scoreless innings Friday in a 3-2 walk-off victory. While Milone didn’t receive a decision thanks to Robinson Cano’s game-tying solo homer in the top of the ninth, the A’s had plenty to celebrate after Brandon Moss singled home Yoenis Cespedes in the bottom of the inning.
“Obviously it would be a lot less stressful if you could score the runs early in the game,” Moss said. “But at the same time when you get in that situation and have a chance to come through and you do, it’s a huge adrenalin rush. It’s a lot of fun. It’s what you dream of as a little kid.”
Winning in dramatic fashion is nothing new for Oakland (49-44), which has posted 10 walk-off victories – seven of which have come in its last 14 home games.
“There’s always that feeling based on the fact we’ve had so many,” manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s always that feeling when we get into the last at-bat at home. We just feel like something good is going to happen.”
Winner of 12 of 14 overall this month, Oakland now turns to Parker (6-4, 3.16 ERA), who’s allowed two runs or fewer in all but four of his 15 starts this season. The right-hander improved to 4-1 over his last six outings Sunday despite a bit of a shaky performance, yielding four runs and a career-high nine hits over six innings of a 9-4 victory at Minnesota.
The Yankees (57-36), who haven’t lost three in a row overall since June 19-22, haven’t been handed three consecutive defeats by the A’s in the same season since a four-game skid May 14-June 11, 2006.
“Really it starts with their pitching,” said catcher Russell Martin, who hit his 10th homer Friday. “Not many teams can contain us like they have in the last couple games.”
After its franchise-record streak of scoring at least three runs in 43 consecutive games came to an end, New York is surely hoping to get another impressive showing from Phil Hughes (9-7, 4.22).
The right-hander, 5-2 with a 2.83 ERA over his last eight starts, gave up two runs and four hits over seven innings Monday but didn’t factor in the decision of a 6-3 win over Toronto.
“Certainly wasn’t a bad outing,” he said. “If this is the low end for the second half, that will be great.”
While Hughes compiled a 2.19 ERA in winning both his starts against the A’s two years ago, it was a very different story last season. Hughes was tagged for a combined 13 runs over two starts spanning seven innings versus Oakland in 2011.
Hughes will need to be wary of Cespedes, who had his second four-hit game Friday. The Cuban rookie has gone 18 for 31 (.581) with three homers and nine RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.
Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher is uncertain to be available after leaving Friday’s contest with a mild left hip flexor strain. Swisher, who spent the first four years of his career with Oakland, is mired in a 4-for-21 slump over his last seven games.
Cano is batting .400 (36 for 90) with seven homers and 21 RBIs during a 23-game hitting streak.