Gaining ground in the American League East standings, the New York Yankees, owners of the best home record in the league, prepare to close out a three-game set against the Oakland Athletics Sunday afternoon.
With 12 wins in 18 opportunities at Yankee Stadium, New York now finds itself just 1 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the division, thanks in part to a 4-2 win over Oakland on Saturday. Lyle Overbay delivered his fifth home run of the season and added a double for the hosts as they picked up their third win in four tries. Chris Stewart also went deep for the hosts.
Picking up his first win of the 2013 campaign, Phil Hughes tossed eight shutout innings, scattering four hits and a couple of walks while striking out nine. Of his 118 pitches, 82 were strikes.
"I feel like I'm kind of clicking right now with what I'm trying to do," Hughes said. "I feel like I'm executing pitches at a better rate than I did early on. As long as I can hit the glove and stay there, and maintain my velocity and strength late in the game, then I feel like I'll be pretty good."
Former Yankee hurler Bartolo Colon wasn't nearly as effective as Hughes, permitting three runs on six hits -- two home runs -- through 5 1/3 innings as he suffered his first setback of the campaign.
"I think I only made one mistake," Colon said through translator and A's coach Ariel Prieto. "The pitch (to Stewart) was supposed to be outside and it was inside. Everything else was good."
Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith both accounted for a pair of hits for an Oakland team that has fallen in two of the last three and is now 2 1/2 games behind Texas for the top spot in the AL West.
Getting his first crack at the Yankees on Sunday is second-year man Daniel Straily for Oakland. The California native will be making just his third appearance of the season overall and hopes to bounce back from a weak effort on Monday versus the Angels.
Against Anaheim, the right-hander surrendered six runs on seven hits -- two home runs -- and a walk, while striking out six in a mere 4 2/3 innings of action. Despite the pedestrian performance by Straily, the A's still managed to come away with the 10-8 win at home.
While Oakland is going with an unproven commodity in Straily, New York has the aging Andy Pettitte set to take the mound. The left-hander, now two wins away from 250 for his career, began 2013 with three straight victories but has since dropped back-to-back outings versus the likes of Tampa Bay and Houston.
Against the Astros, a team for which he played between 2004-06, Pettitte was lit up for seven runs on 10 hits and a walk, striking out just three over 4 1/3 innings, watching his ERA balloon to 3.86 from 2.22 in the process.
The Louisiana native has faced Oakland 21 times in his career, producing an 11-6 record and an accompanying 3.35 ERA.
Oakland has scored the most runs (166) in the AL through 31 contests, yet the club is in the middle of the pack when it comes to batting average (.253). Slightly ahead of the A's on that list is New York with a .259 average, thanks in part to belting a league-best 40 home runs in 29 outings.