The best team in the majors will continue its 10-game road trip with a three-game visit to Oakland, starting with a matchup against a pitcher whom New York released last month.
The Yankees (74-44) had won five straight and 12 of 13 going into the finale of their four-game set in Seattle on Sunday, but their bullpen crumbled in a 10-3 loss.
Still, thanks to a 36-12 record since June 24, they hold a 7 1/2-game lead on second-place Boston, with Burnett (10-5, 3.71 ERA) playing a key role over that span.
The Yankees have won eight of Burnett’s last nine starts, with the right-hander compiling a 2.91 ERA in those games. Despite allowing three total runs in his last two outings, he’ll be looking for his first win since July 27 after receiving sparse run support lately.
He hasn’t been quite as sharp against the A’s, going 2-2 with a 4.14 ERA in six career starts versus Oakland.
The last-place A’s (52-65) enter this series with momentum from a come-from-behind win. They scored single runs in each of the last three innings Sunday - capped by Mark Ellis’(notes) walk-off home run - to earn a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Oakland dropped two of three to the White Sox but has won eight of 13, with its light-hitting lineup batting .283 over that span, well above its .256 season average.
“Being swept would have been tough,” Ellis said. “We’re starting to play better baseball, starting to play more exciting baseball.”
Tomko made 15 appearances out of the bullpen for New York but has not started since May 26, 2008. He had a 6.17 ERA in 10 starts last year for Kansas City.
This will be Tomko’s first-ever start against the Yankees after five relief appearances, but Alex Rodriguez(notes) is already 4 for 8 (.500) with two home runs against him. Jorge Posada(notes) has been even better versus the right-hander, going 4 for 6 (.667) with three doubles and a homer.
New York’s Nick Swisher(notes) will make his second visit to Oakland since the A’s traded him to the Chicago White Sox prior to last season. He is 0 for 7 in two games as a visitor against the Athletics, and 7 for 42 (.167) with 11 walks overall against his former team.
Swisher has homered in the last two games, giving him at least 20 for the fifth straight season.
“It is hard not having him in there,” manager Joe Girardi said, “but you have to be smart about it.”
The Yankees haven’t played at Oakland since taking two of three June 10-12, 2008. They’ve won eight of nine against the A’s at Yankee Stadium since that series.