Harden and the Athletics will try continue their red-hot play and move closer to the top of the AL West when they open a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers.
Oakland is in the midst of another second-half surge, winning 11 of 14 since the All-Star game and 28 of 35 since June 18.
Not only have the A’s moved atop the wild-card race, but they are clearly not ready to concede the AL West to the Angels, having pulled within four games of Los Angeles with 10 games still remaining between the teams.
Oakland is hoping to join the 1914 Boston Braves as the only teams to reach the postseason after falling 15 games under .500.
Harden has done an excellent job lately fulfilling the role of staff ace.
In three starts since the All-Star break, he is 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA. Harden is 6-1 with a 1.77 ERA in seven starts overall since returning from the disabled list, and hasn’t surrendered an earned run in his last 21 2-3 innings at home.
One day after having a seven-game win streak stopped, Oakland rebounded with a 5-4 victory over Cleveland on Wednesday as No. 9 hitter Marco Scutaro singled home the winning run in the 10th inning.
“The way we’ve been playing, I’m happy to see most of the guys up there,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “Everybody’s been coming through. That’s what this whole thing’s been about—everybody picking each other up.”
The A’s likely will be without center fielder Mark Kotsay for a fourth straight game Friday while he rests his sore back. Kotsay, who underwent an MRI Tuesday, has a history of back troubles.
“He’s slowly getting better, just not as fast as we’d like,” trainer Larry Davis said. “We’ll see how he is Friday. If he’s not ready then, we’ll give him a couple more days off. We’re at a point in the season where you don’t want to doom someone and have them go out there and play at 85 percent.”
Detroit is part of the crowded wild card race, but needs to get above .500 before it can make a legitimate run at the playoffs.
A 9-3 loss at Seattle on Wednesday dropped the Tigers to 8-7 since the All-Star break.
“I kind of scratch my head when I watch us sometimes,” Detroit manager Alan Trammell said. “I’m amazed at how efficient we can be, but today we were not.”
The Tigers have reached .500 three times in the past week, but have failed in each attempt to move above the break-even mark.