Starting pitchers for the Oakland Athletics have struggled on the road in August.
Fortunately for them, the Athletics have good reason to believe they can build off their best road start this month as Dan Haren takes the mound Tuesday when their three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays continues.
Haren (13-4, 2.54 ERA), the AL’s ERA leader, is looking to extend the Athletics’ winning streak to three games following their 6-4 win over the Blue Jays (63-61) in Monday’s opener. Joe Blanton pitched seven innings for Oakland (62-64), allowing one run and six hits while striking out six.
A’s starters came into Monday’s game with a 2-3 record and an 8.83 ERA in seven road outings in August. With Blanton’s win, Oakland starters improved to just 9-11 with a 6.75 ERA in 20 road starts since July 1.
Haren—looking to tie his career high in wins established in 2005 and equaled last year—hopes to better that record Tuesday. The right-hander is 5-3 with a 2.53 ERA in 12 road starts, and has not allowed more than three earned runs in eight consecutive starts overall.
Haren did not receive a decision Thursday after giving up four runs—two earned—and nine hits in six innings of an 8-5, 10-inning win over the Chicago White Sox.
“I’d like to go further than six innings in a game,” said Haren, who threw a season-high 121 pitches. “I struggled to go six innings today, but I thought I did a good job of pitching out of jams.”
Haren is 3-1 with a 5.73 ERA in five starts against the Blue Jays. This will be his first time facing them this season.
On Monday, Nick Swisher homered in the first and Jack Hannahan hit his first major league homer in the third—a three-run shot that put the Athletics up 6-1. Hannahan, who was acquired from Detroit in a trade last week, also doubled in the second.
“It’s been a huge whirlwind but I’m having a blast,” he said.
Oakland, which has won six of eight, is in third place in the AL West. Toronto, which has split its last six, fell eight games behind the Seattle Mariners in the AL wild card race.
Haren will be opposed by Toronto’s Dustin McGowan (8-7, 4.14), who has lost his last two starts.
McGowan, who scored a run in the eighth inning Monday as a pinch runner, pitched Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels. He allowed four runs—three earned—and four hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss. McGowan walked three but matched a career high with seven strikeouts.
“I can’t walk those leadoff batters, especially with a team that runs,” McGowan told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “I put the blame on myself tonight.”
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA in two starts and two relief appearances against the Athletics. He pitched seven scoreless innings against them on July 4, allowing just four hits in a 10-3 win.