Tim Hudson will get a tough assignment in his first start after spending five weeks on the disabled list when the Oakland Athletics continue a four-game series with Johan Santana and the Minnesota Twins.
Hudson, sidelined since June 23 with a left oblique strain, was enjoying a very good season, winning seven of his first 10 decisions while pitching to a league-best 2.98 ERA. The right-hander was originally slated to come off the DL on Thursday, but the A’s thought it best to give him some extra days to recover.
“I feel sharp. I feel like all the tools are there,” said Hudson, who made a rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento last Saturday that lasted just three innings.
Hudson threw a 60-pitch bullpen session at Yankee Stadium this week, and could have started Thursday’s series finale in New York, but manager Ken Macha opted to push him back.
“I’m anxious to get back out there,” Hudson said, “but this makes some sense for everyone.”
Hudson will have to go head-to-head with Santana, who might be the hottest pitcher in the American League, going 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA since the All-Star break. The left-hander outdueled Pedro Martinez in a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, allowing two earned runs and two hits over eight strong innings.
Santana struck out 12 to increase his AL-leading total to 173.
The A’s took Friday’s series opener 3-1 in 11 innings to move back in front of Texas by a half-game in the AL West. The Rangers suffered a 9-1 loss in Baltimore on Friday.
Eric Chavez came through with a go-ahead RBI double in the 11th as the A’s improved to 10-3 in their last 13 games.
Shannon Stewart homered in the ninth to force extra innings for Minnesota, which lost for just the fourth time in 17 games. Despite the defeat, the Twins remained a season-high six games in front of the slumping Chicago White Sox for first place in the Central.