Rays-Athletics Preview


The Oakland Athletics' Jarrod Parker hasn't lost in over three months.

It's been seven weeks since the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price last tasted defeat.

Parker and Price put their winning steaks on the line Friday night as these AL wild-card leaders open a three-game set in the Bay area.

The 24-year-old Parker (10-6, 3.58 ERA) has given the A's a huge lift during their playoff push, going 8-0 with a 2.48 ERA in 16 starts since May 28. The right-hander has been especially dominant in his last three, allowing a combined three runs while going at least eight innings in each.

Parker yielded one run and five hits in eight innings in Saturday's 2-1 road win over Baltimore.

"I am not really watching (my) pitch count to be honest," Parker, who threw a career-high 117 pitches, told MLB's official website. "I was just kind of digging deep at that point, trying to put zeros up and keep us in and give us chance."

Parker is 0-2 with a 3.44 ERA in three career starts against the Rays. He surrendered the game's only run in 6 1-3 innings in a 1-0 defeat at Tampa Bay on April 20.

Price (8-5, 3.28) has also proven unbeatable of late, going 5-0 with a 2.35 ERA in eight outings since the All-Star break. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, who owns a league-low 1.97 ERA since the beginning of July, yielded two runs and five hits in six innings to beat the New York Yankees 4-2 on Saturday.

The left-hander has gone 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in six outings versus Oakland, striking out 45 in 39 1-3 innings.

Another solid outing from Price could go a long way for the Rays (75-57), who have hit .213 and scored 12 runs during a 1-4 slide. Tampa Bay went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in Thursday's 2-0 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.

"Frustrating is a great word for today," manager Joe Maddon said. "It happens, and you've got to move it along and get ready for the next day."

Desmond Jennings is mired in a 2-for-24 slump, while Evan Longoria and Wil Myers have gone hitless in their last 36 at-bats combined.

"It's definitely not what we want, but it's what we have at this point," Longoria said of the team's upcoming 10-game road trip. "I think the one positive is we still have a lead in the wild card and we are still within close striking distance (of AL East-leading) Boston with a month of baseball to play. What more could you ask for?"

Loser in seven of nine on the road, Tampa Bay has taken six of eight from Oakland, including a three-game home sweep April 19-21.

Sitting one-half game behind the Rays in the second wild-card spot, the A's (75-58) failed to gain any ground Thursday after coming undone at Central-leading Detroit. Oakland found itself on the verge of a four-game sweep before Grant Balfour surrendered four runs in the ninth of a 7-6 walkoff loss.

"It's nice to win three games here when you're looking at it coming in," manager Bob Melvin said, "but certainly when you're in position to win the fourth one, you want to win four."

Brandon Moss, who went 4 for 5 with two homers and a career-high six RBIs in a 14-4 victory the night before, stayed hot with his fourth home run in three games. The first baseman is batting .394 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 10 runs in his last 10.