(Sports Network) – New York Yankees All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez is approaching another milestone in his career and will try to lead his team to a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics tonight at the Coliseum.
Rodriguez is coming off a huge performance in last night’s 6-1 victory over the A’s, as the slugger cracked a pair of home runs, including a grand slam with two outs during a five-run third inning. Rodriguez, who ended with five RBI, now owns 597 career home runs and will soon be the seventh member of the 600-homer club, joining Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa.
A-Rod is seventh on the all-time list, just 12 homers shy of Sosa for sixth.
“At home, everywhere I go people are always asking about it,” Rodriguez said on the team’s website. “It’s hard to ignore. Like I said last week, I’m looking at 600 like first base. You want to run right through it and use it as a springboard for more to come.”
Derek Jeter was credited with the other RBI and starter CC Sabathia continued to cruise on the mound by tossing 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball. The big lefty fanned 10 batters and allowed seven hits to push his 2010 mark to 11-3. David Robertson pitched the remaining 1 1/3 innings to preserve the victory.
The American League East-leading Yankees, who are two games ahead of Tampa Bay in the division standings, have won four in a row and five of their last six games. They will shoot for their first three-game sweep in Oakland since the 2005 campaign.
New York’s chances of making that happen just got a bit harder with struggling right-hander A.J. Burnett set to take the hill Wednesday. Burnett hasn’t won since May 30 versus Cleveland and is 0-5 with an 8.80 earned run average in his last six starts — all Yankee losses. He did not record a decision his last time out in Friday’s 6-1 setback versus Toronto, as Burnett tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings before the bullpen imploded.
Burnett, who is 6-7 with a 4.90 ERA in 17 starts in 2010, has dropped four straight assignments on the road and is 3-5 in 10 away outings this season. He’s also just 2-3 with a 4.00 ERA in seven career starts against the Athletics.
Oakland has dropped two straight and three of four games and saw Trevor Cahill’s unbeaten streak came to an end Tuesday night. Cahill entered the evening 7-0 with a 2.12 earned run average in his past nine trips to the mound, but was roughed up for all six runs in six innings to absorb the loss — his third of the season (8-3).
“It’s fun going against a team, the defending world champs, they kind of set the bar,” Cahill said. “And I definitely wish I could have showed more. But things just didn’t work out [Tuesday].”
Kevin Kouzmanoff had the lone RBI and Adam Rosales collected a team-high two hits for the Athletics, who are winless so far on a six-game homestand.
Oakland will pin its hopes on Gio Gonzalez tonight, and the left-hander is 7-5 with a 3.50 earned run average in 17 starts this season. Gonzalez was 0-2 with a 4.24 ERA in four starts before beating Cleveland last Friday with 6 2/3 shutout innings in a 3-0 victory. He struck out four and issued no walks.
Gonzalez is 4-2 in eight home starts this season and lost to the Yankees back on April 20 at the Coliseum. In the 7-3 setback to the Bronx Bombers, Gonzalez yielded five runs in 4 1/3 innings of work. He is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two career starts against New York.
The Yankees took two of three matchups with A’s from April 20-22 and have won 16 of the last 20 contests between the teams