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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, September 22nd (All times Eastern)

Oakland Athletics (85-65) at New York Yankees (87-63), 1:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - Travis Blackley (5-3, 3.65) New York - Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.85)

(Sports Network) - Ivan Nova hopes to pitch the New York Yankees to a seventh straight win on Saturday when they continue a three-game set with the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium.

Nova returned from the disabled list last Saturday and defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, holding them to a pair of runs and four hits in six innings. He also struck out eight and ran his record to 12-7, while lowering his ERA to 4.85.

A 16-game winner a year ago in his rookie season, Nova had been 1-3 with a 8.59 ERA in five starts prior to landing on the DL with right shoulder inflammation.

"It's not that I didn't try to be focused in the past, but a game like today, especially coming back from the DL, you have to do everything you can to win this game," Nova said. "I came from my house mentally prepared to do that."

Nova is 1-0 in two starts versus the A's with a 3.29 ERA.

New York remained a game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East on Friday, as Russell Martin's 10th inning home run carried the Yankees to a 2-1 win.

New York held a 1-0 lead entering the ninth, but closer Rafael Soriano gave up a one-out, pinch-hit blast to Brandon Moss to send the game to extra innings.

David Robertson (2-7) then retired the A's in order in the top of the 10th before Martin jumped on the second pitch in the bottom half and launched it into the left-field seats to send the Yankees to their sixth straight victory.

Sean Doolittle (1-1) was tagged with the loss after giving up Martin's solo shot, as Oakland lost for the fourth time in their last five games.

"Our guys scrapped and fought the whole night and then to lose it like that, it's really, really tough," Doolittle admitted.

The A's dropped one game behind the Orioles for the first AL wild card slot, but hold a 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels for the final playoff berth.

Both teams got sparkling efforts from their respective starters, as CC Sabathia fanned 11 over eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball for the Yankees. Jarrod Parker gave the A's eight strong innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts.

"I think every win from here on out is going to be the biggest win," Sabathia said. "It just feels good to be a part of it."

On Saturday, Oakland will rely on lefty Travis Blackley, who has been pitching mostly in long relief since the end of July. In 12 starts for the A's this season Blackley is 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA.

"Obviously, I'm psyched about it," said Blackley, who is 12-7 with a 4.85 ERA on the year. "It's good to know they trusted me to take the reins when needed. I'll take it like any other game. ... I'm looking to keep the team in the game as long as possible."

Blackley, though, has never faced the Yankees, who are hitting just .255 against lefties this season.

New York has split eight matchups with the A's this season.

09/22 10:31:30 ET