In one corner: Rays left-hander David Price, who is 7-1 with a 1.97 ERA and 62 strikeouts in his past 11 starts.
In the other: A's right-hander Jarrod Parker, who is 8-0 with a 2.48 ERA and .202 opponents' average over his last 16 outings.
Let the head-to-head battle for the American League Wild Card begin.
The Rays travel to Oakland on Friday to begin a pivotal three-game series with the A's, who trail Tampa Bay by a half-game in the AL Wild Card standings. The Indians are four games back of the A's.
"It's good. This time of year, when you're down a couple games, you want to play the guys that are ahead of you so you can gain a full game," Price said of the matchup. "We're not watching them play and hoping they lose. If we handle business, those are very big games."
It begins Friday with what should be an exciting pitchers' duel. Price was originally scheduled to pitch Thursday but was pushed back because of Matt Moore's expected Tuesday return.
Price was fine with the extra day of rest, noting it's always good to get one this time of year. It also sets him up to face a potent A's lineup that surprised manager Bob Melvin in scoring 34 runs in four games against the Tigers.
"I never would've expected that. We've been talking about quality at-bats and moving the line. We've been doing that to an extent, but this series, I don't know that anyone could've forecasted that," Melvin said. "As far as turning the corner, I think you need to do it more than three games. If we can win a few more, get home and start winning in the fashion that we have for the better part of the season, then you feel like you turn a corner. But it's a good start to it."
The A's look to continue Friday against Price, who knows full well the potential of Oakland's bats.
"They just continue to get better," Price said. "Their guys buy into their system. They have good role players, and they've really done well. Josh Donaldson has had a breakout year. Jed Lowrie is playing really well. [Yoenis] Cespedes does what he does. I don't know what their weakness is, if there is one. They're solid. It will be a tough series."
Rays: Going back to college
This road trip's theme for the Rays centers around the opening of the college football season, as manager Joe Maddon asked his players to wear the jersey of their favorite college team for their 10-day trek to the West Coast.
Price, who went to Vanderbilt, was hoping to get out of St. Petersburg quickly and land in the Bay Area early enough to watch the Commodores' season opener Thursday night against Ole Miss.
"They were pumped about it. Coach [James] Franklin was pumped up. This is a big time for Vanderbilt football," Price said of the opener. "It's the best feeling we've had in forever. They're making it a place where people want to go. It's good to see it turning around."
• Rays catchers Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton have hit a combined .321 with two home runs, four doubles and 10 RBIs in their last 15 games.
A's: Lowrie streaking
Lowrie extended his career-long hitting streak to 11 games in Thursday's 7-6, walk-off loss to the Tigers. He's now batting .413 in that stretch, with seven multi-hit efforts.
• The A's are 12-13 in the month of August with two games remaining. They need to win their next two games to keep their streak of consecutive months with a winning record alive, which dates back to last June.
• Rays outfielder Wil Myers is hitless in his last 19 at-bats and is 5-for-43 (.116) over his last 12 games, with no extra-base hits.