After a superb series opener, Cespedes will try to help the A’s top the Seattle Mariners again Saturday night while maintaining sole possession of the AL West lead.
A sore left hamstring kept Cespedes as Oakland’s designated hitter for seven straight games, and he was 4 for 28 (.143) with 10 strikeouts and one RBI. While getting the chance to return to left field Friday, the Cuban slugger ended an 11-game homerless drought as he went deep twice in a 6-3 win.
Before hurting his hamstring June 11, Cespedes was batting .297 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in his previous 22 games.
“It feels great to play in the outfield,” Cespedes said through an interpreter. “When I’m in the outfield, my body’s completely up, my body’s on fire. The difference is when I’m a DH and I sit down in the dugout and I’m doing nothing, I feel like I’m going down a little bit.”
Coco Crisp and Jed Lowrie also homered as the A’s (44-32) stayed one game in front of Texas in the division. Oakland lost three of four to the Rangers earlier this week after dropping two of three to the visiting Mariners.
Dan Straily (4-2, 4.97 ERA) is certainly hoping to perform better against Seattle (32-43). The right-hander is 0-1 with an 8.68 ERA in two career matchups and gave up six runs over five innings in a 6-3 defeat at Safeco Field on May 10.
Straily has won three straight decisions but allowed six runs in 4 2-3 innings in his latest start Monday, an 8-7 defeat in Texas. He gave up two home runs after allowing none in his prior six outings.
“I was up in the strike zone. They were aggressive and I just got beat, plain and simple,” Straily said.
Aaron Harang (3-7, 5.28), meanwhile, will seek to return to the form he showed in a pair of recent shutouts. The right-hander recorded the second of those June 11 against visiting Houston - a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts - but he struggled in an 11-3 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.
Three of the four runs Harang allowed were unearned, but he gave up a season-high 11 hits in five innings.
“They had quite a few hits in a short period of time, and (Harang) was fortunate to get out of there with just four runs,” manager Eric Wedge said.
Harang walked a career-high eight batters and lasted only 3 2-3 innings in his only start against Oakland, a 3-0 loss June 19, 2012, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cespedes is 5 for 13 (.385) in his last three games against Seattle but has never faced Harang.
Kendrys Morales is 4 for 8 with two homers and a double against Straily, but he’s batted .128 with no extra-base hits in his last 12 games.
It’s unknown if Oakland’s John Jaso will return from an abrasion on his left hand. The catcher was batting .366 in his past 12 games before sitting out Friday.