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04/21/10 3:54 AM ET

Yanks' five-game streak on line vs. A's

The season is slightly more than two weeks old, but the division leaders in the American League East and the AL West are already streaking.

Following Tuesday's 7-3 victory over the A's, the Yankees are riding a season-high five-game winning streak and have won eight of their past nine games. Oakland, meanwhile, has lost back-to-back games and is 5-5 in its past 10 games.

Recent history appears to favor the Yankees. New York has defeated Oakland in 13 of its past 16 meetings. Moreover, the A's are 3-2 on their current 10-game homestand.

The Yankees will look to Phil Hughes to keep their winning streak alive on Wednesday against A's righty Ben Sheets. Hughes was solid in his 2010 debut against the Angels but pitched only five-plus innings because the five walks he issued led to a high pitch count.

Wednesday's matchup will mark Hughes' first career start against the Athletics. He does have three relief appearances against Oakland that add up to 4 1/3 scoreless innings.

The good news for Hughes is that he is still a bit of an unknown -- at least to the A's. No Athletics hitter has more than two career at-bats against the right-hander. They probably have not seen much of his cutter or his changeup, a pitch the righty worked on during Spring Training.

"The cutter is something I've worked on for a while now, and it felt good [against the Angels]," Hughes said. "I threw it when guys were looking for fastballs, and it was really effective. Sometimes in a fastball count, I almost prefer the cutter because it's moving away from the barrel, where a changeup sometimes fades toward the barrel."

Sheets, on the other hand, is a relatively known commodity.

In his first two starts this season, Sheets allowed a combined 14 hits and six runs, five of which were earned. He walked seven and struck out only four. In his last outing, against the Orioles, Sheets showed progress, tossing six scoreless innings.

"I think he'll keep getting better," said A's manager Bob Geren. "I do. He's a four-time All-Star. He had a surgery and he missed an entire year. It's like anybody -- if you see him getting better, getting closer to his All-Star-caliber self, then it's encouraging. Six scoreless innings -- you can't do a lot better. I guess nine, seven, eight."

Sheets will face the Yankees for the first time since he blanked them across seven innings in 2005, but the right-hander said he views the Bronx Bombers the way he would any other team. The veteran's main focus is keeping his pitch count down so he can start pitching deeper into games.

A's on the offensive
Second baseman Mark Ellis is questionable for Wednesday's game after exiting Tuesday's loss in the sixth inning with left hamstring soreness. It's the same injury that sidelined him for seven consecutive games. ... Daric Barton has reached base safely in 14 of 15 games. ... Kurt Suzuki has an 11-game hitting streak against the Yankees dating back to July 18, 2008, and he is a career .403 hitter against them -- his best mark against any AL team. ... Ryan Sweeney had his 13-game hitting streak snapped on Tuesday and is now batting .302 in 14 games. The hitting streak matched a career high and tied for the second-longest season-opening streak in Oakland history. Stan Javier set the club mark with 17 hits to start the 1994 season.

Yankees on defensive
The Yankees have not committed an error in their past 11 games, the longest April errorless streak in franchise history. ... Derek Jeter had his 11-game hitting streak to start the season snapped on Tuesday and is now hitting .345 through 12 games. Still, he loves facing Oakland. The Yankees' captain is a career .311 hitter against the A's and has a .358 average at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. ... The Yankees are 8-0 this year when leading after six innings.

Worth noting
Alex Rodriguez hit his 585th career home run on Tuesday and is one homer shy of tying Frank Robinson for seventh place on the all-time list. ... Umpire Ron Kulpa replaced Ed Rapuano behind the plate in the sixth inning on Tuesday after Rapuano took a foul tip off the mask. He was transported by ambulance to Summit Hospital for a CT scan and was alert.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.