OAKLAND ATHLETICS (36-22)
at NEW YORK YANKEES (29-28)
First pitch: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oakland -140, New York +130, Total: 9
The AL West-leading Athletics go for their fifth straight win when they battle the Yankees in the Bronx on Wednesday night.
Oakland is once again the team to beat in the American League West and comes into this game with six wins in the past eight contests. They defeated the Yankees in the opener of this three-game set on Tuesday night by a score of 5-2 as their relievers threw 3.2 scoreless innings and let the offense get a comeback win. DH Brandon Moss (.280 BA) hit two solo homers in the winning effort and has been amazing for this team, hitting 15 HR while driving in 48 runs this year. New York has been on the decline, as the club deals with age and injuries while losing five of its past seven contests. The Yankees have had almost no offensive production in that time, scoring just 2.4 runs per game. 1B Mark Teixeira (.248 BA) went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI while hitting his 10th HR on Tuesday night, and has four more homers than any other New York player in just 133 at-bats this year. Taking the mound for the visiting Athletics will be RHP Jesse Chavez (4-3, 2.78 ERA) who has lost his past two games. For the Yankees, LHP Vidal Nuno (1-2, 5.48 ERA) will attempt to earn his second win of the year in his ninth start. The A’s have had no troubles when playing on the road, going 19-10 in away games while the Yanks are just 12-15 in their home stadium. Oakland has also been dominant in this matchup over the past three seasons, going 11-6 against New York, including 4-3 at Yankee Stadium. The Athletics have done well on the road for a while now with a 64-48 record (.571) since the start of last season. Meanwhile, Oakland is just 1-8 when the total is between 9 and 9.5 runs this year. OF Josh Reddick (knee) will miss this game as he is on the DL for Oakland while OF Carlos Beltran (elbow) is still out for the Yankees.
Jesse Chavez has certainly been a welcomed and necessary surprise for the Athletics this year with season-ending injuries to both Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin at the top of their rotation. Over his past four starts, he has gone 2-2 with a 3.33 ERA while losing his past two games. He put up a quality start (6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 K’s) in a losing effort his last time out against the Tigers and has just seven strikeouts in his past two games (12.1 IP). Chavez has improved his control from last year when he was a reliever, and is walking just 2.4 batters per nine innings through his first 11 starts. He has not faced the Yankees before as a starter, but has pitched in two games against them in a relief role, going 7.2 frames while allowing just two hits and striking out eight. In his limited at-bats, OF Ichiro Suzuki has gone 3-for-4 against Chavez, while 3B Kelly Johnson is 1-for-2 with a solo home run against the righty. Chavez may have no issues when facing OF Alfonso Soriano though, as he has gone 0-for-15 in his past five games. Oakland’s bullpen has been exceptional this year at 12-10 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, but is only 11-for-19 (58%) in save opportunities. Sean Doolittle (2.67 ERA, 6 saves) has been perfect in his past five save chances while having an absolutely amazing 39:1 K/BB ratio in 27 innings of work.
Vidal Nuno has provided the Yankees with an unlikely option in their rotation with three of their original starters (CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova) on the DL. Even though they have been happy with Nuno's performance on the whole, he has been prone to blow-ups, and that was evident in his last start against the Twins, as he allowed four runs on seven hits (3 HR) while striking out six batters with zero walks over 6.2 frames. Home runs have been a problem for him this season, as he has given up nine in his first 47.2 IP. Nuno has also had trouble with control, walking 3.2 batters per nine innings. Just like Chavez, he has yet to face his opponent as a starter, but he may have some trouble going against DH Brandon Moss who hit two solo home runs in game one of this series and has five long-balls and a 1.004 OPS over the past nine contests. Meanwhile, SS Jed Lowrie (.245 BA) is just 6-for-29 (.207) with a home run and 4 RBI over his past 10 games. The Yankees bullpen has been their biggest crux. Their relievers are a combined 8-11 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.32 WHIP while going 18-of-27 (67%) in save opportunities. These numbers are even worse at home (2-6, 5.04 ERA, 1.37 WHIP). Closer David Robertson (4.26 ERA, 12 saves) has gone 12-for-14 in his save chances, and has struck out 32 batters in his 19 frames on the mound.