OAKLAND -- The A's face Yankees left-hander C.C. Sabathia in the teams' series opener at the Coliseum tonight, meaning manager Bob Melvin found himself writing out his right-handed lineup yet again this afternoon. It's the fifth game in a row the A's have faced a left-handed starter and the 11th time in their last 16 games. They're 7-3 in their last 10 games against a left-handed starter and 14-10 overall on the season.
That has meant inconsistent playing time and at-bats for the left-handed halves of the A's platoons, such as Brandon Moss, John Jaso, Eric Sogard and Eric Smith. But that figures to change soon. The A's face right-handers the final two games of this series (Phil Hughes tomorrow, Hiroki Kuroda on Thursday). After that they're scheduled to see a left-hander in the Angels' Joe Saunders -- and then they're lined up to see 16 right-handed starters in a row, Melvin said.
"I'm telling our lefties they'll start to be exiled tomorrow," Melvin said.
Melvin said he still plans on mixing in some starts for the right-handed hitters during that long stretch, including taking advantage of day games after night games to get Derek Norris starts behind the plate. Norris starts tonight against Sabathia, as part of this A's lineup:
And the Yankees lineup against Bartolo Colon
* Donaldson has seemed to find a home lately hitting in the cleanup spot, but Melvin said he isn't locked into Donaldson being there against right-handed starters. Melvin said he likes breaking up his two big right-handed bats with a lefty in those situations (those bats being Cespedes and Donaldson), so you could see Donaldson hitting third or fifth.
"But at this point in time, what he's accomplished during the season, he's a middle of the order bat," Melvin said.
Donaldson is hitting .333 so far in June after a .330 mark in May and ranks second among American League third baseman -- behind the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera -- in batting average (.324), RBI (42) and walks (28). He's also leading the league with a .397 average in the seventh inning or later.
"He's being talked about as far as All-Star stuff goes," Melvin said, "and he should be."
* Hot as the A's have been -- losses in the last two games of their trip notwithstanding -- the Yankees have been on a good roll as well. New York has won seven of 10 and is coming off a four-game series against the Mariners in which they allowed a total of seven runs.
Whatever the context, a series against the Yankees always moves the needle with fans, and Melvin said that extends to the clubhouse as well. The A's (38-27) and Yankees (37-26) enter this series with the third- and fourth-best records in the American League as well, which adds some intrigue to a mid-June meeting.
"I think certainly in the American League, but even with interleague, there's 29 rivals of the Yankees," Melvin said.
"They're a good club on top of it. They've had a lot of injuries and now they're getting some of their guys back. They've held down the fort really well. But the Yankees are the Yankees. That's just the way it is."
-- Matt Kawahara