Coming off of a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners this week, the Yankees are in Oakland for a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics, who took two of three games against the Yankees last week at Yankees Stadium -- would you guess Masahiro Tanaka was the only win?
The Athletics, at 40-26, own the best record in baseball, even after dropping three of four games against the Los Angeles Angels this past week.
Outing scoring the A's is a very tough thing to do -- in case their record didn't show that. Their +130 run differential is far and away the best in Major League Baseball ahead of the San Francisco, who stand at +59 entering play Friday.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are having a tough time scoring runs lately. They scored six last night against the Mariners, the most they have scored in a game since May 27, so anything they can get in this series they'll have to take, while also hoping their pitching holds up.
Tonight's lineup against Oakland:
LF Brett Gardner
SS Derek Jeter
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
DH Carlos Beltran
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Brian Roberts
3B Kelly Johnson
* Just as Yankees manager Joe Girardi suggest last night, Ellsbury is in the lineup after leaving in the 7th inning of the 6-3 win over Seattle because of some tightness in his right hip -- the same hip that was bothering him in Kansas City last Sunday.
* Girardi told reporters before the game that Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are not at all close to returning the to the big leagues any time soon. Pineda is not expected back until at least August, and it would be very "tough" to get Sabathia back before the All-Star break in July.
Pineda has only made four starts this season, and hasn't seen a big league mound since he was ejected for using pine tar in a game against the Red Sox. The Mariners said during spring training that they have no expectations for Jesus Montero, and I'm starting to feel that way about Pineda. Just a shame what he's been through.
* The Yankees don't expect to activate Francisco Cervelli off of the DL before they get back to New York on Tuesday. Cervelli is eligible to come off of the DL today, but the Yankees will wait until after this series, and will likely send John Ryan Murphy down to Triple-A when the bring Cervelli back.
Pitching matchup preview:
David Phelps will get the ball tonight for the Yankees, who are looking to extend their winning streak to four games. Phelps is going through a rough patch right now, having allowed 13 runs in his last two starts and going winless in his last four.
Phelps is coming off of a terrible start against the Royals, in which he gave up a career-high 10 runs on seven hits.
Sonny Gray is also going through a rough patch right now, and he, too, will take the mound in tonight's series opener.
Gray has allowed three-plus runs in three straight outings entering tonight, and is coming off of a start against the Baltimore Orioles that saw him give up five runs in 5 1/3 inning, giving up five runs for just the second time in 25 career big league starts.