Brandon McCarthy looks to help the A's win the series, as well as keep them in a tie for the second playoff Wild Card spot, as they enter Saturday tied with the Orioles 1 1/2 games behind the Wild Card frontrunner Rays.
McCarthy will need to rebound from a poor start on Monday in which he gave up six earned runs for the first time in over a year. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings against the Twins during that outing, allowing 10 hits.
"It was a mess, from beginning to end," McCarthy said. "I just, mechanically, felt completely out of whack with everything. That's pretty much what showed.
"I was horrible in the bullpen and had nothing at any point. It's been a long time since I had a day like this, where you just want a rewind button in the first inning and start all over. The first inning, I felt all right with [the first batter] in the box, and then I made a string of bad pitches and just got wild and lost all feel for everything. It was bad."
Jeremy Hellickson will take the mound opposite McCarthy and will look to continue a recent surge. Seven innings of one-run ball last time out gave Hellickson his second straight start with seven innings of work, which followed 11 consecutive starts not reaching that distance.
"I feel really good about that. For the last two starts, it's been 15 pitches here and 25 pitches there, just trying to get more consistent with that," Hellickson said. "I felt good the whole year. These last few starts, I've been throwing more strikes, getting ahead of guys and just going deeper into games."
Additionally, Hellickson hasn't allowed more than three runs in his last three starts, winning two. The lone loss, though, came when he took the mound opposite of Felix Hernandez's perfect game on Aug. 15 in Seattle.
Rays: Eyes set on division leaders
• While much of the outside focus has been on the Rays maintaining their lead in the Wild Card standings, they have closed the gap on the Yankees, the leaders in the American League East. The Yankees, not the Wild Card is what the Rays have their sights set on.
"Our main goal is to win the division, and that's what we're gonna try to do," Hellickson said.
• In stark contrast to the rest of his career, Ben Zobrist is thriving at the plate this August. Zobrist was a career .216 (104-for-481) hitter during the month coming into this year, but has hit .324 (23-for-71) so far during August.
A's: Reddick sits amidst struggles
• Josh Reddick has a team-leading 25 home runs, but is going through a late-season swoon. He has just 14 hits and 31 strikeouts in his last 94 at-bats. Manager Bob Melvin sat Reddick on Friday against tough left-hander Matt Moore, and with Sunday's scheduled off-day, he will get two days off in a span of three days.
"Everybody goes through stretches," Melvin said. "He's been as consistent as anybody we've had, if not more so than anybody we've had, and that's why it stands out when you go through a stretch where you struggle some. He'll continue to be a force for us. He'll continue to be a mainstay. It's probably just a couple of hits there, maybe a bloop there, and he'll be back and off to the races again."
• Current Rays players are hitting just a combined .203 (15-for-74) against McCarthy. Three of those hits though, are home runs. Meanwhile, McCarthy has notched 15 strikeouts against the current Rays.