Pettitte and Mulder square off in what promises to be a classic pitchers’ duel as the Yankees and Athletics wrap up a three-game series at Network Associates Coliseum.
Mulder, 6-3 in nine starts since mid-June, has yielded just two runs and 14 hits over 14 2-3 innings in winning his last two outings. The southpaw leads Oakland’s heralded staff in wins (14), strikeouts (111) and ranks just behind right-hander Tim Hudson with a 3.03 ERA.
Mulder boasts an eye-opening 63-32 mark during his first three-plus seasons in the majors.
Pettitte was 67-35 after four full seasons in the big leagues, and has not dropped off much since. He is the first pitcher to win at least 12 games in his first nine major league seasons since Hall of Famer Stan Covaleski did it for Cleveland from 1916-26.
The crafty lefty has been one of baseball’s hottest pitchers since mid-June, posting an 8-0 mark in nine starts, including Tuesday’s 6-2 victory at Anaheim. Pettitte surrendered two runs and nine hits over eight innings, while striking out nine and walking none.
The eight-game winning streak is a career high for Pettitte, who has won at least 13 games in eight straight seasons.
“It’s definitely a nice roll to be on,” said Pettitte, unbeaten since an 8-7 loss to the Chicago Cubs on June 8.
Mulder got the best of Pettitte when the two went head-to-head in Oakland on May 11. Mulder yielded two runs over eight strong innings to lift the A’s to a 5-2 win. Pettitte surrendered all five runs in 6 2-3 innings.
The Yankees improved to 5-3 on their nine-game trip through Boston, Anaheim and Oakland with a 10-7 victory over the A’s on Saturday. Jason Giambi belted a three-run homer against his former team and Bernie Williams broke out of a slump with four hits, including his first home since coming off the disabled list on July 9.
“Everybody likes hitting homers, but hitting the ball hard is more important to me right now,” Williams said. “With my knee, it’s just a matter of staying with the exercises and making sure it gets stronger.”
The A’s, who won Friday’s series opener, have not lost a series since suffering a four-game sweep to Minnesota from July 17-20.
STANDINGS: Yankees - 1st place, AL East. Athletics - 2nd place, 3 1/2 GB, AL West.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Pettitte (13-6, 4.41 ERA). Pettitte is 8-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 14 career starts against Oakland.
ATHLETICS PROBABLE STARTER: Mulder (14-7, 3.03 ERA). Mulder is 2-4 with a 7.79 ERA in six career starts against New York.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Yankees - Hideki Matsui, .297 avg.; Giambi, 31 HRs and 86 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 79 runs and 27 SBs. Athletics - Eric Byrnes, .279 avg.; Eric Chavez, 20 HRs and 8 SBs.; Miguel Tejada, 68 RBIs and 63 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Athletics, 5-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - OF Williams was mired in an 11-for-50 funk before going 4-for-5 on Saturday with two RBIs. … RHP Mariano Rivera has converted 21 of 24 save opportunities this season. … Newly acquired 3B Aaron Boone is 1-for-8 in his first two games with New York. Athletics - Newly acquired OF Jose Guillen snapped an 0-for-15 funk with a single Saturday. He’s 1-for-9 in his first two games with Oakland. … LHP Mulder is 9-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 11 home starts this year. … 3B Chavez is 3-for-6 in his career against LHP Pettitte.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 37-20 on the road; Athletics - 39-18 at home.
INJURIES: Yankees - RHP Jose Contreras (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Gabe White (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL. Athletics - OF Jermaine Dye (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Micah Bowie (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jim Mecir (knee), 15-day DL.