Athletics-Yankees Preview


While it seems the New York Yankees are getting hot at the right time, the Oakland Athletics hope their recent struggles won't ultimately cost them a spot in the postseason.

After rallying for a second straight extra-inning victory, the Yankees look to complete a series sweep of the A's with an eighth consecutive win Sunday in the Bronx.

Less than 24 hours after Russell Martin delivered a walk-off homer to give New York (88-63) a 2-1, 10-inning victory Friday, the Yankees scored four times in the 13th, then won 10-9 after A's first baseman Brandon Moss committed an error with the bases loaded in the 14th.

"I told you all along that I like the fight in this team,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Some of the things we go through, we find ways to get back up.''

Raul Ibanez's two-run homer in the 13th tied the score at 10 after the A's (85-66) hit three home runs in the top of the frame. The victory kept the Yankees one game ahead of second-place Baltimore in the AL East.

New York is in the midst of its longest winning stretch since a 10-game run June 8-18.

"Right now every game is magnified, and we know the situation,'' said Ibanez, who was 3 for 53 (.057) in his previous 24 games before going 3 for 4 with two homers Saturday. "It's a lot of fun.''

Oakland has not enjoyed itself while losing five of six following a stretch in which it won eight of nine. The A's, however, still hold a 2 1/2-game lead on the Angels for the final AL wild-card spot.

"(Saturday's defeat) was crushing, you just need to move on and get ready to play (Sunday),'' losing pitcher Tyson Ross said.

Things don't get any easier for the A's against Hiroki Kuroda (14-10, 3.26 ERA), who allowed four hits in eight innings of a 2-0 victory at Oakland on May 27.

Though Kuroda has posted a 5.40 ERA in his last three starts, he's 2-0 during that stretch. The right-hander improved to 10-5 with a 2.56 ERA in 17 home starts after he allowed four runs and struck out 10 in six innings of a 6-4 win over Tampa Bay last Sunday.

The A's counter with rookie A.J. Griffin (6-1, 2.45), who was 6-0 with a 1.94 ERA in his first 11 major league starts before he was roughed up for five runs and three homers in 4 2-3 innings of a 12-2 loss at Detroit on Tuesday.

"Just wasn't executing pitches the way I usually do,'' Griffin said. "Wasn't pounding down in the zone, leaving pitches up and they capitalized on it.''

The right-hander had little trouble executing against the Yankees when he gave up two runs in six innings of a 4-3 home victory July 19.

Stephen Drew went 4 for 5 and rookie Yoenis Cespedes hit his 20th homer Saturday for the A's. Drew is 6 for 11 in the series while Cespedes is batting .375 (9 for 24) with three home runs against the Yankees in 2012.

New York's Ichiro Suzuki is 14 for 20 (.700) with two homers and five RBIs in the last five games. He is 9 for 19 (.474) in his last four versus Oakland.