Oakland's Sonny Gray won't be eligible to pitch in next week's All-Star Game but he can extend his undefeated stretch into the break.
Though reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber won't represent the Cleveland Indians at the Midsummer Classic, he has a chance to win consecutive starts for only the second time this season.
The two square off for the first time Sunday as the Athletics try to salvage a split of their six-game trip.
The AL's ERA leader, Gray (9-3, 2.20 ERA) can only watch Tuesday's All-Star festivities from the dugout or bullpen as a result of starting this contest. However, the main concern for Oakland manager Bob Melvin is the health of his right-hander, who endured a bout with salmonella that forced him to skip a start.
When Gray returned from an 11-day layoff Tuesday, he allowed three runs, six hits and walked three while throwing 110 pitches in seven innings of a 4-3, 10-inning victory at Yankee Stadium.
"Taking a big break can kind of make it all feel foreign when you get back out there," he told MLB's official website. "I just felt like as the game went on I was getting better and better, which was good for me to feel."
Despite a 5.21 ERA in his last three starts, Gray has gone 2-0 while receiving an average 8.10 runs of support in the last four.
He gave up a solo homer and six other hits while striking out 16 and walking six in 12 innings to go 1-0 against the Indians (42-45) last season.
Kluber (4-9, 3.45) already matched his loss total from a stellar 2014 when he went 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA. However, he ranks among baseball's leaders with 148 strikeouts and won for the first time since posting back-to-back winning starts May 23 and 28 after allowing five hits in 6 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 2-0 victory over Houston.
"Anytime you win it beats the alternative," said the right-hander, who was 0-4 with a 3.86 ERA in his previous six starts.
Kluber, whose 2.44 run-support average is the second lowest in baseball, has received two runs while on the mound in going 0-3 with a 5.02 ERA as a starter against the A's.
He'll try to help Cleveland bounce back after its four-game winning streak ended with Saturday's 5-4 defeat.
Billy Butler delivered a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth to help Oakland (40-50) snap a three-game skid and score more than four runs for the first time in seven contests.
''Sometimes you need a big hit to help you break out,'' said Butler, who is 4 for 28 over an eight-game stretch but has four RBIs in the last three. ''We've been having trouble with that. It hasn't been happening for us lately.''
All-Star Stephen Vogt had two hits after going 2 for 17 in his previous four contests. While Vogt has never faced Kluber, Butler is 4 for 24 with eight strikeouts against him.
Cleveland's Michael Brantley is 8 for 19 (.421) with four RBIs in his last five games. He's 3 for 6 with two doubles off Gray.
Brantley's teammate Mike Aviles was placed on the family medical emergency list for the second time this season to be with his 4-year-old daughter as she undergoes treatment for leukemia.