There are some former A's it's hard not to like, even when they are occasionally beating you. One of them is Kurt Suzuki, a true "heart and soul member" of the team for years over two stints, and another is Josh Willingham who bombed 29 HRs for the A's, indicated a love for playing here, and never shows up an opponent. And has a wife named Ginger for criminy's sake. How adorable is that?
None of it seemed especially adorable in the top of the 8th in a 1-1 game, following Jason Hammel's best effort yet for Oakland (6⅓ IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) and a Houdini act from Fernando Abad in the top of the 7th, surviving a 1st & 3rd one out mess thanks to a botched squeeze and a strikeout.
Enter Luke Gregerson, who had not allowed a run since June 25th (15 appearances, 14 scoreless IP). Gregerson just didn't really have it today, getting into the stretch right away when Danny Santana beat out a bunt to open the inning. Santana stole 2B and stayed there as Brian Dozier flied to CF. Then Gregerson uncorked a wild pitch, served up a booming double off the LF wall to Suzuki, and after striking out Kennys Vargas he hung another slider to Willingham, who porked one -- ok, parked one -- into the LF bleachers. 4-1 Twins.
Not satisfied to let former A's doing all the beating of them, Oakland proceeded to beat itself a bit in the 9th as the Twins pulled away. Jesse Chavez got the first 2 out, then loaded the bases and surrendered a broken bat infield hit (Suzuki again) and walked Vargas to force in a run. 6-1 Twins and the end of a 12-game losing streak to Oakland over the last 2 years.
Speaking of former A's, they taketh away but they also giveth. Yoenis Cespedes bombed a 3-run HR off of Angels' set-up man Joe Smith in the 8th inning of the Angels-Red Sox game. It was Cespedes' first HR with Boston and it broke a 0-0 tie as the Red Sox defeated the Angels 3-1. As a result the A's end the day still 4 games up on the Angels in the AL West.
Onto Kansas City to take on the red hot Royals, winners of 7 straight and just 1 game back of the Tigers (who, as I type this, are headed to the 18th inning at Toronto). Fasten your seat belts for this 4-game series: It's going to be a bumpy ride!