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Series Preview: Yankees vs. A's II

First baseman Brandon Allen was a nice upside gamble for the A's at the deadline. (AP)

The Yankees are 5-1 against the A's this season, were 9-1 against them last year, and have gone 26-5 against them dating back to 2008. I'm not sure what to add to that. The A's aren't a good team. They did make a nice swap at the deadline, getting faded first base power prospect Brandon Allen and Jordan Norberto, a lefty reliever with a nice strikeout rate, from the Diamondbacks for righty sidearmer Brad Ziegler, and have done the right thing by installing Allen at first base and letting him show what he can do (which in the minuscule sample of nine games has been an impressive .379/.424/.586 line and some surprising highlights in the field).

Allen and rookie second baseman Jemile Weeks make the A's a bit more interesting than they were earlier in the season, but they haven't made them significantly better as the A's have still scored just four runs per game in August. Hideki Matsui's hot July has given way to a tepid August in which he has just three extra-base hits and a .394 slugging percentage. Really, the only two A's who are doing much damage right now are Allen and left fielder Josh Willingham (.277/.374/.606 with 12 homers since he came off the disabled list in early July). That's not much to work with, particularly as Willingham is 32 and due to become a free agent after the season.

Pre-game note: Alex Rodriguez has been scratched due to soreness in his left thumb, soreness that dates back to Sunday, when he backhanded a ball hit by Joe Mauer and tweaked the thumb. No word yet on the severity of the injury, though it's certainly not a good sign that yesterday's off-day wasn't enough to allow it to heal.

Bartolo Colon (8-7, 3.54) vs. Brandon McCarthy (6-6, 3.74), Tuesday, August 23, 7:05, Ch. 9

Since returning from his hamstring injury, just four of Colon's nine starts have been quality and he has pitched into the sixth inning just once in his last four turns. His ERA over those last four starts was 4.79. Clearly the Yankees' second-best pitcher prior to the injury, he now looks like a candidate to move to the bullpen as fatigue seems a likely factor in his diminished performance. Colon has thrown 124 2/3 innings already this year. By now we've all memorized the fact that he hasn't passed 100 innings since his Cy Young season of 2005, but that's not the half of it. In the previous three seasons combined he threw just 101 1/3 with a single-season high of 62 1/3.

One time White Sox prospect, Brandon McCarthy throws three fastballs, all the same speed, and a slider ten miles per hour slower. That's about it. He doesn't strike many men out, but he's barely walking anyone this year, he's hard on righties, and when he can stay healthy, which is not often, he's a roughly league average starter. Since returning from his last stint on the disabled list due to the lingering effects of a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade that he suffered in mid-2009, he has posted a 4.14 ERA in nine starts, four of which were quality. That's about right. On the shelf with the scapula injury all of last year, he last faced the Yankees as a Ranger in June of 2009 and got lit up for six runs in four innings.

CC Sabathia (17-7, 2.95) vs. Trevor Cahill (9-12, 4.17), Wednesday, August 24, 7:05, YES

Even when Cahill was pitching well against the rest of the league, he couldn't conquer the Yankees, going 0-4 with a 13.50 ERA in his previous four starts against the Bombers, and he hasn' t been pitching well against the rest of the league recently either, going 1-4 with a 8.44 ERA in his last six starts. Half of those starts were actually quality, two of those coming against the Rays and the third against the Rangers, but in the three duds he has allowed 24 runs in 11 1/3 innings, including seven runs in 5 1/3 frames against the Blue Jays his last time out.

Since his outstanding eight-start run from late June into early August, Sabathia has posted a 6.43 ERA in three starts, though bad luck has played a large role. Sabathia has struck out 22 men in 21 frames against just two walks in those three starts, but has a .377 BABIP. Throw in those five solo homers against the Rays two turns ago, and you can see how things have gotten a bit fluky. Sabathia hasn't faced the A's this year, but had three strong starts against them last year, posting a 1.52 ERA and averaging more than 7 2/3 innings per start in those three outings.

Phil Hughes (4-4, 5.74) vs. Rich Harden (4-2, 3.91), Thursday, August 25, 1:05, YES/MLBN

Rich Harden's present is the future Phil Hughes is trying to avoid. The talented but fragile Harden threw 5 1/3 effective but inefficient innings against the Yankees on July 23, walking four but picking up the win. Since making his season debut on July 1 he has alternated quality and non-quality starts. Having thrown seven scoreless innings while striking out 11 Blue Jays his last time out, he's due for a non-quality one this time around.

Hughes only poor start since coming off the disabled list came at home against Oakland on July 22. Since then he has posted a 1.75 ERA in four starts, though luck on balls in play appears to have played a large part (.234 BABIP, and just 5.3 K/9). Hughes has looked good, but he's sort of a Schroedinger's pitcher right now, at some point some one is going to open the box and he's either going to start striking people out (and to be fair, he did strike out six Rays in six innings two turns ago) or he's going to start getting hit.

Oakland Athletics

2011 Record: 57-70 (.449)
2011 Third-Order Record: 62-65 (.490)

Manager: Bob Melvin
General Manager: Billy Beane

Home Ballpark: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

Bill James Park Indexes (2008-2010):
LH Avg-95; LH HR-88
RH Avg-96; RH HR-86

Who has replaced whom:

• Brandon Allen (AZD) has replaced Brad Ziegler (AZD)
• Anthony Recker (mL) has replaced Landon Powell (mL)
• Bruce Billings (mL) and Jordan Norberto (AZD) have replaced Michael Wuertz (DL) and Joey Devine (mL)

25-man roster:

1B - Brandon Allen (L)
2B - Jemile Weeks (S)
SS - Cliff Pennington (S)
3B - Scott Sizemore (R)
C - Kurt Suzuki (R)
RF - David DeJesus (L)
CF - Coco Crisp (S)
LF - Josh Willingham (R)
DH - Hideki Matsui (L)


R - Conor Jackson (OF/1B)
L - Ryan Sweeney (OF)
L - Eric Sogard (IF)
R - Anthony Recker (C)


R - Trevor Cahill
R - Rich Harden
L - Gio Gonzalez
R - Guillermo Moscoso
R - Brandon McCarthy


R - Andrew Bailey
L - Brian Fuentes
R - Grant Balfour
L - Craig Breslow
R - Fautino De Los Santos
L - Jordan Norberto
R - Bruce Billings

15-day DL:

RHP - Michael Wuertz (right thumb tendonitis)

60-day DL:

LHP - Brett Anderson (left elbow soreness)
LHP - Dallas Braden (left shoulder capsule surgery)
RHP - Trystan Magnuson (right shoulder tendonitis)

Typical Lineup:

S - Jemile Weeks (2B)
S - Coco Crisp (CF)
L - Hideki Matsui (DH)
R - Josh Willingham (LF)
L - Brandon Allen (1B)
L - David DeJesus (RF)
S - Cliff Pennington (SS)
R - Kurt Suzuki (C)
R - Scott Sizemore (3B)