Succeeding on such a platform would only further push Cahill into serious consideration for one of the game's most prestigious awards.
But Cahill, who gave up six runs in six innings in his last meeting with the Yankees in July, was once again dominated by the fellas from the Big Apple on Monday, when he allowed season highs in hits and runs in his shortest outing of the year as the A's fell, 11-5, to New York in the opener of a four-game set.
Thus, the Cy Young talk didn't die but was rather derailed. It wasn't simply Cahill's show to steal, though. Oakland, coming off two eye-opening wins over the first-place Rangers in Texas, was out to prove it can continually compete with baseball's best. Instead, the loss put the A's (65-65) back at the .500 mark for the 26th time this year -- an ongoing franchise record -- and set them 8 1/2 games behind the Rangers, who beat the Royals on Monday.
"It's definitely one of those games that's frustrating coming off a series win in Texas," said Cahill, who noted that the defeat may have affected the club's momentum.
Second baseman Mark Ellis put an end to that notion, though, saying his teammate likely just felt bad.
"We're fine," the A's veteran said. "Obviously, you don't want to lose games, but it's just one."
It's one Cahill would like to put behind him. The 22-year-old hurler (14-6) entered the contest boasting an American League-leading 0.92 ERA in August, but he waved goodbye to the month with an uncharacteristic performance, surrendering eight runs on nine hits -- two of them homers -- while walking two and fanning two in four-plus innings.
Cahill was immediately handed a 3-0 lead by way of a sacrifice fly from Jack Cust and a two-run single from Jeff Larish off righty Dustin Moseley in the first, but the right-hander quickly watched the Yankees climb their way back in the bottom half of the frame. Cahill walked Brett Gardner to lead off the first, and after getting Derek Jeter to ground into a forceout, he gave up an RBI hit to Mark Teixeira and another base hit -- which deflected off Ellis' glove -- to Robinson Cano.
The low liner was hit so sharply that it broke Ellis' glove -- a scene that had Cahill shaking his head after the game.
"Any time a guy hits a ball and breaks a guy's glove, that's probably not a good sign," Cahill said.
It wasn't. In fact, it was followed by a two-run double off the bat of former A's slugger Nick Swisher that tied the game at 3. Before Monday's start, Cahill had allowed just one run in the first inning all season -- a 0.39 ERA.
"I definitely didn't have my best stuff," Cahill said. "Against a team like that, you have to have your 'A' game, especially in this ballpark. Just not a good performance. The worst part is the team put up three runs for me in the first and I couldn't hold it.
"I didn't have command of any pitch, really. I was behind a lot of guys, and once they started going, I couldn't stop them."
"They had a long first, and we were able to get back even," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought that was real important. And we were facing a guy that's been lights-out. He didn't seem to have his sinker tonight. We were able to make him elevate the ball a little bit tonight."
Cahill was able to garner a 1-2-3 second inning, but the third frame brought about back-to-back homers off the bats of Teixeira and Cano to allow New York to go ahead, 5-3. Both were line-drive bullets to right field, barely eclipsing the wall.
"I'm used to playing in Oakland," Cahill said of the A's monstrous home field, "so I definitely didn't think they were home runs, but I turned around and realized we were playing in Yankee Stadium."
It's a place that hasn't exactly treated the A's kindly over the past couple of years. Following Monday's loss, they dropped to 1-9 at Yankee Stadium since the start of 2008. Furthermore, they've now lost 17 of their past 20 overall to New York.
Oakland clipped New York's lead in the fourth thanks to a solo homer from Larish, but an RBI single from Ramiro Pena in the fourth put New York ahead by two runs, and trouble only escalated in the fifth. Cahill offered up a double to Teixeira followed by an RBI single to Cano, who advanced to second on the throw. That marked the end for Cahill, but he was charged with an eighth run when reliever Henry Rodriguez allowed another Swisher double to score Cano.
Rodriguez -- who had not allowed a run in eight August outings -- proceeded to hit Jorge Posada with a pitch to bring Marcus Thames to the plate with two runners aboard and no outs. The Yankees' designated hitter responded in a big way, launching a 2-2 pitch to left field for a three-run blast to bring the score to 11-4.
Meanwhile, Oakland's first four runs were charged to Moseley, who gave up five hits, walking four and and striking out four, in 4 1/3 innings. Larish tallied his career-high fourth RBI of the game in the eighth with a run-scoring single off Javier Vazquez, but that's all the A's could manage off New York's bullpen.
Vazquez, who tossed 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball following Moseley's early exit, was awarded the win, his 10th of the year.
It marked the ninth time all season the A's have surrendered nine runs or more -- all nine times coming on the road.
"Their record indicates how good of an offense they have," Geren said of the Yankees' 81-50 record. "They're a good team."
The A's skipper recognized "it just wasn't [Cahill's] night," but he didn't seem the least bit worried about the young phenom bouncing back in five days, when he's set to face the Angels at home.
"He wasn't locating the way he usually does," Geren said. "He's been so good for so long that you just kind of have to look past this and look forward to his next start."
"I have to try to forget about it and not let it affect me next time," Cahill said. "They're a good-hitting team, so you've got to give them credit."