Hughes seemed headed to the bullpen following an abysmal effort against the A's back on July 22 that saw him surrender seven runs and nine hits in only 4 1/3 innings of the Yankees' 17-7 win.
Since that start, though, the right-hander has resembled the pitcher who won 18 games a year ago, allowing two runs or less in each of his last five starts and comes into tonight on the heels of his best showing of the year. Hughes held the Minnesota Twins to a run and two hits in 7 2/3 innings on Friday to improve to 4-4 on the year to go along with a 5.75 earned run average.
"I thought he mixed his pitches tremendously," Girardi said. "He used all his pitches tonight. "And all his pitches have been consistent, [that] is the biggest difference for me."
He is 2-0 lifetime against the A's with a 4.29 ERA in six games (three starts).
Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with oft-injured right-hander Rich Harden, who is 4-2 with a 3.91 ERA. Harden was terrific in beating Toronto on Friday, as he held the Jays to just two hits over seven scoreless innings. He also struck out a season-high 11 batters and walked three.
"He's been terrific," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Harden beat the Yankees earlier in the year, but is 2-3 in 10 games (eight starts) against them with a 4.91 ERA.
Winning in the Bronx has not come easy lately for the A's, but with a win today the team will capture its first three-game sweep there since turning the trick from June 9-11, 2006.
Oakland put itself in that position with a dramatic win on Wednesday, as Coco Crisp second home run of the game, capped a career night with a three-run homer off Rafael Soriano in the 10th inning propelling the A's to a 6-4.
Crisp homered from both sides of the plate during a four-hit, five-RBI effort for the A's, who have won four of five overall.
Scott Sizemore also went 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored in Oakland's win, which was credited to Fautino De Los Santos (2-0) for tossing a perfect ninth.
Nick Swisher homered twice, and Mark Teixeira added a game-tying solo blast in the eighth, but it wasn't enough as New York lost for the third time in four games to fall one game behind AL East-leading Boston.
Soriano (2-2) gave up a pair of one-out singles in the 10th before fanning Jemile Weeks. The set-up man went with a breaking ball on his first pitch to the left-handed-hitting Crisp, and the hanger was crushed into the second deck in right.
"[Soriano] threw [a slider], I reacted and I caught the barrel," recalled Crisp, whose homer snapped Oakland's string of 10 straight series losses to the Yankees.
The Yankees have lost three of their five matchups this season with A's in the Bronx, but are a staggering 14-4 against them there since the start of the 2008 campaign. Overall, the Yanks have won 26 of the 33 meetings in that span.