Yankees-Athletics Preview

In the last decade, the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics have built playoff-caliber clubs at least in part due to an emphasis on patience at the plate and on-base percentage.

With a pair of pitchers who are battling control problems slated to face off Tuesday, that philosophy may be even more relevant.

New York's Chien-Ming Wang and Oakland's Dana Eveland will both try to overcome their struggles when the teams meet for the first time this season to start a three-game set in Oakland.

The Yankees (32-32) can partially thank their league-high payroll for their 13 consecutive postseason appearances, but they also lead the majors with a .357 on-base percentage since 1995.

The low-budget A's (34-29) have qualified for the playoffs five of the last seven seasons, and since that run started in 2000, they are second only to the Yankees in walks.

Both Wang and Eveland have been issuing plenty of those recently. Wang (6-2, 4.57 ERA) hasn't pitched like the Yankees' ace in his last four starts, walking a total of 14 batters in 23 2-3 innings and racking up an 8.75 ERA over that span.

He walked four in 4 1-3 innings of a 9-8 win over Toronto Thursday, allowing seven runs -- six earned -- on only five hits. The right-hander has walked at least three in six consecutive outings, going winless since May 2.

"I have to watch video, work in the bullpen and try to fix it," Wang told the Yankees' official Web site.

Eveland's control problems were even more drastic last Tuesday, as the left-hander walked a career-high seven in 4 1-3 innings, allowing three runs against Detroit.

The A's still won that game on a walk-off hit in the 11th inning, but even that wasn't as dramatic as Sunday's victory, when they avoided being swept at home by the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels when Mark Ellis hit a walk-off grand slam in the 12th.

That gave the A's five wins in their last seven games, including a 4-2 mark on their current homestand.

New York begins a six-game road trip after losing 3-2 to Kansas City Monday, as closer Mariano Rivera gave up a ninth-inning home run to the Royals' Jose Guillen to break a 2-2 tie.

"He's human," shortstop Derek Jeter said. "He makes mistakes. But the thing with him is, he forgets about it. The next time he pitches, he won't be thinking about what he did."

While the Yankees have won four of their last six, they remain tied for last place in the AL East. They were still at .500 midway through July last year before going on a run to capture a wild card berth, but they're hoping not to have to again win more than 67 percent of their games after the All-Star break like they did in 2007.

"You know, we've been saying that for a month," starter Mike Mussina said. "'It's inevitable, it's inevitable.' And we're still roughly a .500 team. If it's inevitable, it better start soon."

While Eveland has never faced the Yankees, Wang will make just his third start against the A's -- and first since 2006. In his only appearance at McAfee Coliseum, he lasted 4 2-3 innings, allowing seven hits, three walks and four runs -- two earned -- in April 2006.