Another series with a playoff contender provides another opportunity for the Oakland Athletics to prepare themselves for a potential postseason berth.
After they avoided being swept by one club in the playoff hunt, the A's look for a fifth consecutive victory over the AL East-leading New York Yankees on Friday night in the Bronx.Oakland (85-64) was outscored 18-4 in the first two games at Detroit before it broke out for a 12-4 win over the Tigers on Thursday. The victory moved the A's into a tie with Baltimore for the top wild-card spot in the AL."We've been able to come up big when we needed to, and (Thursday) was right along those lines," manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics' official website.Though Oakland appears in good position to earn one of the two wild-card berths, Melvin and his team won't take anything for granted."I'm not even thinking about a cushion," Melvin said. "All we're doing is trying to play for today."Next up is a New York club which owns a one-game lead over the Orioles in the East and seeks a sixth straight win after Thursday's 10-7 victory over Toronto."Having this momentum come at this point in the season, I think that's the Yankees," outfielder Ichiro Suzuki said. "And I think that's what makes this team special."Oakland, however, has won four straight one-run games over the Yankees (86-63) -- all at home -- and three of five in the Bronx.The A's hope to continue that success Friday against scheduled Yankees starter CC Sabathia (13-6, 3.63 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his last five starts against them. He's 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in two versus Oakland this year.Sabathia, however, has gone 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA in his last four starts since he went 6-0 with a 3.25 ERA during a nine-start stretch that included two stints on the disabled list. The left-hander allowed four runs in 6 2/3 innings of a 6-4 home loss to Tampa Bay on Friday."Just not making pitches," said Sabathia, who has given up a lead in five straight starts.Oakland's Seth Smith, who is 2 for 4 against Sabathia, went 3 for 4 with his 14th homer and four RBIs on Thursday.Batting .421 (8 for 19) with five RBIs in his last six games, Athletics rookie Yoenis Cespedes is 7 for 15 (.467) with two home runs and three RBIs against the Yankees.One day after the A's learned talented left-hander Brett Anderson would be lost for the regular season because of a strained oblique muscle, Jarrod Parker (11-8, 3.51) tries to win his third straight start. The right-hander has yielded five runs in 21 innings during a 2-1 stretch. He allowed two in seven innings of a 5-2 win over Baltimore on Saturday.Parker allowed one run in eight innings of a 2-1 victory over New York on July 21.Suzuki is 2 for 7 with three strikeouts versus Parker, but is 9 for 12 with three doubles, one homer and four stolen bases in his last three games. He's hit .321 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 54 games since the Yankees acquired him from Seattle on July 23.