Masahiro Tanaka is enduring the longest winless stretch of his career and he’s up against a pitcher who has dominated the New York Yankees.
The Oakland Athletics’ Jesse Chavez is 4-0 against New York, though his 1-5 record in day games could be a cause for concern Thursday.
The Yankees and Athletics have traded one-run wins in this series heading into this finale in the Bronx that features right-handers on the mound.
Tanaka (4-3, 3.94 ERA) is 0-2 with a 6.26 ERA in his last four starts after yielding three runs over six innings in Friday’s 7-5, 12-inning home win over Tampa Bay. He did not allow a homer after he was taken deep three times in each of his previous two starts.
The Japanese star won his lone start against Oakland (39-48) by surrendering one run over six innings in a 2-1 home victory June 5, 2014.
Chavez (4-8, 3.20) owns a 21-31 career mark with a 4.40 ERA and has only beaten one team more than twice – the Yankees. He is 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA in five appearances – three starts – against them.
The journeyman can become the 15th pitcher to improve to 4-0 in as many starts versus New York (45-39) among pitchers whose careers began in 1914 or later. He scattered seven hits over eight innings in a 3-0 home victory May 31.
Chavez dropped his second straight outing Friday by giving up four runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 9-5 loss to Seattle. He is 1-5 with a 3.89 ERA in seven day games – six starts.
Mark Teixeira has faced him the most among the Yankees, going 3 for 12. Brett Gardner is 2 for 11 and Brian McCann is hitless in seven at-bats with four strikeouts.
McCann is expected to return to the lineup after resting in Wednesday’s 5-4 victory.
The Yankees bounced back from Tuesday’s 4-3, 10-inning defeat behind Teixeira’s two solo homers and some excellent defensive work by the first baseman.
"I’ve been saying it all year long, he’s a run producer and so important to us defensively and he had a great day," manager Joe Girardi said.
Stephen Drew also homered to raise baseball’s worst average among qualifying hitters to .179. The Yankees’ three homers matched their total from their first five meetings with the A’s.
"That’s a big part of our game and that’s how we’re going to win games by hitting the ball out of the ballpark," Girardi said. "And we’re designed to do that here, that’s what we’re made up to do."
Jacoby Ellsbury went 1 for 4 in his return from the disabled list while Chase Headley will likely miss a second straight game with a sore right calf.
The A’s are a major league-worst 7-22 in one-run games. They look to improve to 14-7 in their last 21 day games after starting 1-13.
Oakland’s Billy Burns is 12 for 28 against New York and 8 for 23 in a five-game hitting streak. He leads all rookies with 81 hits.