Oakland enters Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium amidst an 11-game drought against the Yanks, the longest losing streak against New York in Oakland history. It's also the longest for an Athletics team since the Kansas City A's dropped 14 in a row to the Yankees from Sept. 13, 1956-July 12, 1957.
A big reason for Oakland's struggles against the Yankees has been its starting pitching. Rich Harden, who opposes A.J. Burnett on Saturday, also hasn't had success against the Yankees in his career. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 5.10 ERA in nine games (seven starts) against the Yankees, but A's manager Bob Melvin said the key to success against New York is to try to forget the past and focus on the now.
"Don't look too much at the big picture, the stats and stuff. Just go out there and do your thing," Melvin said. "We're swinging the bats a little better, too. Our offensive numbers are up, so as a pitching staff, you focus on what you do right rather than what the other team does right. It's more important you go with your own strengths, and we feel our pitching can match up with anybody."
Trying to get the Yankees 20 games above .500 -- they're currently a season-high 19 over for the second time -- is Burnett, who has tossed two consecutive no-decisions. In his last start, against the Rays, the right-hander allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Burnett defeated the A's on June 1, allowing two runs on three hits in seven strong innings. He is 5-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 10 career starts against Oakland.
Athletics: Crisp, Suzuki to sit
Outfielder Coco Crisp is scheduled to get the day off Saturday, Melvin said. Also, Landon Powell will be behind the plate, with Kurt Suzuki resting because of the heat wave in New York.
The A's entered Friday 6-24 in their last 30 road games, the worst 30-game stretch on the road since May 26-Aug. 4, 1986, when they also were 6-24. With Friday's loss, they remain 6-24 in their last 30 games away from Oakland.
Yankees: Playing in the heat
Game-time temperature Friday was 100 degrees, the highest recorded at new Yankee Stadium and the first 100-degree game in the Bronx since July 5, 1999 against the Orioles. The Yankees did not take batting practice outdoors Friday, and with Saturday's day game, it could be hotter. Manager Joe Girardi said the club will be conscious about the heat.
"That's something that we're going to try to be smart about the next couple days," Girardi said. "I'll just check with guys to make sure they're not cramping up and try to keep them as fresh as I can."
Said head athletic trainer Gene Monahan: "We're prepared and we got our I's dotted and our T's crossed. We're ready to go. It's a process that starts all day long."
Mariano Rivera needs one save to reach the 25-save mark for the 15th straight season.
The A's are hitting .302 with 37 runs scored in seven games since the All-Star break.
Yankees relievers have not given up a run in their last six games, allowing eight hits and three walks in 16 innings.