NEW YORK (AP) — Before Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game, he gained notoriety for a memorable feud with Alex Rodriguez.
Braden will face the New York Yankees for the first time since that incident – although he won’t face Rodriguez – when the Oakland Athletics try to avoid a four-game sweep Thursday and prevent CC Sabathia from becoming the majors’ first 19-game winner.
New York (83-50) took two of three at Oakland (65-67) from April 20-22, but Braden’s spat with Rodriguez in a 4-2 win for the Athletics in the finale was the story. Rodriguez jogged across the mound, resulting in an outburst from the Oakland starter.
“I was just trying to convey to him that I was still out there, that ball’s in my hand and that’s my pitcher’s mound,” Braden said at the time. “If he wants to run across the pitcher’s mound. Tell him to go do laps in the bullpen.”
Rodriguez was taken aback by the reaction from Braden (9-9, 3.28 ERA).
“I was a little surprised,” he said. “I’ve never quite heard that, especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career. I’ve never even heard of that in my career and I still don’t know. I thought it was pretty funny, actually.”
When these teams met in Oakland from July 5-7, Rodriguez put aside talk of a rivalry with the left-hander – who threw a perfect game May 9 against Tampa Bay. The Yankees superstar is currently on the disabled list with a strained right calf.
It’s unlikely that the Yankee Stadium faithful will be as forgiving of Braden, who improved to 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA in eight outings since the All-Star break after throwing a four-hitter in a 5-0 victory at Texas on Saturday for his fifth complete game of the year.
The brash southpaw is looking forward to the reception he gets from the Bronx crowd.
“I’m sure they’ll be their normal New York selves,” Braden told the Athletics’ official website. “I wouldn’t expect anything else – should be interesting to see what they come up with.”
Braden allowed two runs in six innings in his win over the Yankees in April to outduel Sabathia (18-5, 3.14), who pitched a four-hitter.
Sabathia is trying to win his sixth straight start after posting a 2.95 ERA in his last five. The left-hander is 15-0 with a 2.17 ERA over his last 20 regular-season starts at Yankee Stadium.
“Just because we have CC (Thursday) doesn’t mean we can let up,” shortstop Derek Jeter said.
Sabathia can match his career high in wins, but will likely need to turn in a better effort than he did in Saturday’s 12-9 victory over the Chicago White Sox. He labored through seven innings, giving up five runs.
The Bay Area native is 6-8 with a 5.35 ERA in 20 starts against the A’s – only his 6.16 ERA against the Yankees is worse among AL opponents.
New York maintained a one-game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East with a 4-3 victory Wednesday. The Yankees last swept the A’s in a four-game home series Sept. 5-8, 1985.
Mark Teixeira had three hits and three RBIs to continue his big week. The first baseman is 8 for 10 with two homers and seven RBIs in this series.
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