Little has gone right for the Oakland Athletics this season, but things may be looking up as they close in on their first home series win of the year.
Their latest triumph again came at the expense of the New York Yankees, who can bounce back Saturday night after yet another loss – a result all too familiar in recent weeks.
Following a 2-14 stretch, Oakland (19-32) has won five of seven and the first two of its series with the Yankees (25-24).
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Sonny Gray pitched eight strong innings, Brett Lawrie hit his fourth home run and Stephen Vogt drove in two runs as part of a four-run third in Friday’s 6-2 victory. Oakland has won back-to-back home games for the first time this season, and a victory Saturday will give the A’s their first series win at the O.co Coliseum since Sept. 19-21.
”We’re getting leads now, we’re holding them, we’re getting better at-bats, we’re getting breakthrough hits, cleaner games defensively for the most part,” manager Bob Melvin said. ”A lot of things that have been our Achilles heel, we’re starting to get better at.”
The Athletics have enjoyed tremendous starting pitching over this seven-game stretch with a 1.01 ERA. Jesse Hahn (2-4, 3.69 ERA) has the best outing of that run and takes the mound again Saturday.
After failing to pitch into the eighth inning in any of his previous 20 career starts, Hahn went the distance Monday and allowed only four hits and a walk in a 4-0 win over Detroit.
"All the way around, he was terrific," Melvin said. "I think he realizes now that when he has good stuff he needs to throw it over the plate. That allows him to go deep into games. … When he has that good sinker, he has the ability to do what he did today."
New York (25-24) has again fallen off after a three-game home sweep of Kansas City and has now lost 12 of 16.
Coming off one of his best starts of the season, Nathan Eovaldi (4-1, 4.27) could turn the tides. After failing to make it out of the fifth at Washington on May 19, the right-hander held the Royals to a run over seven innings in Monday’s 14-1 win.
"I thought he used his curveball effectively. He got some strikeouts with his split. I thought he mixed his pitches really well today," manager Joe Girardi said of Eovaldi, the beneficiary of a 7.01 run-support average that’s among the highest in the majors. "When he has his offspeed and can throw it for strikes, he’s really effective."
Brian McCann could provide Eovaldi with some more help Saturday. He has homered in four straight games and has driven in a run in every contest during a seven-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .391.
The last Yankee to homer in five consecutive games was Alex Rodriguez from Sept. 4-9, 2007.
”I’ve been making small adjustments here and there,” said McCann, who was hitting just .188 on the road prior to this series. ”Honestly, I feel like I’ve been swinging the bat well all year. Now I’m kind of getting more lift in my swing and the ball’s leaving the ballpark.”