NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Yankees got the best of Trevor Cahill last month, as Alex Rodriguez hit a pair of homers in a win over the Oakland Athletics’ budding ace.
Beating Cahill again might prove to be much more difficult.
The right-hander has the lowest ERA in baseball since that outing, and he won’t have to worry about the injured Rodriguez or possibly Mark Teixeira as the A’s open a key four-game set in the Bronx on Monday night.
Oakland (65-64) still has an outside shot at catching Texas in the AL West thanks to its rotation, which owns a major league-best 3.36 ERA.
A devastating sinker has helped Cahill (14-5, 2.43 ERA) become the A’s No. 1 starter and emerge as a candidate for the Cy Young Award. The 22-year-old has gone 6-2 with a 1.46 ERA over his last nine starts, holding Cleveland to an unearned run over seven innings in a 6-1 win Wednesday.
“Cahill is one of the top guys (in baseball) right now,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He kept us hitting the ball on the ground the whole night.”
Two fly balls hurt Cahill when the Yankees (80-50) visited July 6. Rodriguez hit a third-inning grand slam and later added a solo shot, chasing Cahill after he allowed six runs and just four hits over six innings of a 6-1 loss. That snapped his seven-game winning streak.
He won’t have to worry about Rodriguez (left calf strain) on Monday, and New York has to hope Teixeira (bruised right thumb) won’t be joining the three-time MVP on the disabled list. Teixeira was hurt making a diving stop Friday in Chicago, left Saturday’s game after two innings and didn’t play Sunday.
He is considered day to day.
Marcus Thames has made sure that Teixeira hasn’t been missed too much. The designated hitter homered twice in a 12-9 win Saturday, and his solo shot in a 2-1 victory Sunday was his fifth home run in as many games.
“I’m a power guy,” Thames said. “And it’s big for power guys – you have to get into a rhythm to get some stuff going.”
Thames’ homer Sunday helped the Yankees remain even with Tampa Bay in the East, while Oakland sits 7 1/2 games back of Texas in the West.
The deficit could be much worse. The A’s were 9 1/2 out Friday, but Dallas Braden shut out the Rangers the next day and Gio Gonzalez followed with six strong innings Sunday in an 8-2 win.
“Nobody’s given up on this. Everybody’s trying to win every single game. These guys fight all the time,” manager Bob Geren said of his team’s chances of catching Texas. “If our offense continues to swing the bats the way they are and match the great pitching we have, then yes, definitely.”
The A’s, losers of five of six to the Yankees this season and 16 of the last 19 meetings, will hope for better luck against Dustin Moseley (4-2, 4.53).
Considering New York gives Moseley an average of 10.03 runs of support, perhaps they shouldn’t. The right-hander held Toronto, the major league leader in homers, to two runs over six innings in an 11-5 win Tuesday.
Moseley was 1-1 with a 7.02 ERA in eight games – five starts – against the A’s while with the Angels from 2006-2009. Jack Cust is 6 for 10 with a homer versus Moseley.
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