After squandering multiple opportunities before being gifted a victory, the New York Yankees may have to make the most of limited chances Sunday when they face Justin Duchscherer in a bid to sweep a three-game series from the Oakland Athletics.
The Yankees (52-45) stranded 21 baserunners and went 3-for-18 with men in scoring position Saturday, but still eked out a 12-inning, 4-3 victory - their season-best sixth straight home win - in 12 innings. Jose Molina was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing home Derek Jeter with the winning run.
“It feels good because we won the game, but it hurts,” Molina said.
By comparison, New York had gone 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position in Friday’s 7-1 win.
Duchscherer (10-5, 1.82 ERA) has been pitching at a high level for nearly two months, allowing two runs or fewer in 10 consecutive starts - compiling a 7-2 record with a 1.44 ERA in that span. The right-hander, who allowed one run in one inning during Tuesday’s All-Star game, failed to get a decision last Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels despite limiting them to two runs in 7 2-3 innings. Oakland lost the game 4-3.
Duchscherer won his first-ever start against the Yankees on June 11, yielding one run in seven innings of an 8-4 victory. He is 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in eight total appearances versus New York, spanning 15 innings.
Duchscherer, who has been fighting a throat infection, has struggled against the Yankees’ Jason Giambi, who is 5-for-7 with three homers and two doubles for a 2.286 slugging percentage against him.
A better post All-Star Game pitcher over his career, Andy Pettitte (10-7, 4.03) now hopes to continue that pattern. The left-hander is 108-44 with a 3.53 ERA in the second halves of seasons, compared to a 103-76 mark and 4.12 ERA prior to the All-Star break.
Pettitte, who has dropped two of his last three starts, was reached for four runs and eight hits in six innings of a 4-1 defeat at Toronto last Sunday. He has won four of his last five decisions at home, though. He also is 5-2 lifetime versus Oakland (51-46) at Yankee Stadium.
Pettitte defeated the Athletics on June 12, holding them to one run in eight innings of New York’s 4-1 win.
Molina, who entered Saturday’s game as a defensive replacement in the 10th inning, likely will start at catcher for the Yankees after the Athletics took advantage of Jorge Posada’s ailing shoulder to steal two bases in the ninth inning. Posada has thrown out just 3 of 37 baserunners in 30 games while Molina has been successful cutting down runners 24 of 51 times.
Oakland had its share of lost chances Saturday, leaving 14 runners on base and going 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position in losing its fourth straight.
“We played well. It was a great game,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “We were right there. We just didn’t win.”
The Yankees have not swept a three-game series at home against Oakland since April 27-29, 2004.