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Game #52: A's stand pat in 3-2 win over the Twins

The A's hold on for a 3-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins in the series opener. Ryan Madson notched his 12th save of the 2016 season; and Kendall Graveman secured his first win since April 20 against the New York Yankees.

Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

Coco Crisp had a clutch home run in the bottom of the first. Marcus Semien doubled on a sharp liner to left, to knot the game at two; and Khris Davis slapped a sac fly to center field to give the A's a 3-2 lead heading into the late frames. Kendall Graveman had an outstanding performance for the green and gold, as did Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. But the defining moment of the game had to be Yonder Alonso's diving play with two-away in the top of the seventh off of the bat of Joe Mauer. What a game, what a game! And how about Kendall Graveman!

Crisp and Centeno get their respective clubs' on the board

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ervin Santana possess a 15-6 record with a 2.03 ERA in 106 innings over the course of his major league career against the green and gold; however, it didn't mean much when Crisp launched a solo home run over the right field fence -- possibly a foot over the wall, but a round-tripper nonetheless, put the A's up 1-0 heading into the top of the second.

The Twins offense quickly responded against Graveman, as a scorching Miguel Sano singled on a groundball to Jed Lowrie to begin the frame. Shortly after, Oakland's right-hander made quick work of Robbie Grossman and Oswaldo Arcia -- before Eduardo Escobar singled on a line drive to center field; ultimately setting the table for Juan Centeno with runners on the corners. Luckily for Centeno, he managed to sneak a single to right field, plating the Twins first run of the contest -- just before Danny Santana went down swinging to end the threat.

The A's regain the lead in the middle innings

After a pair of singles from Santana and Eduardo Nunez in the top of the fifth, Brian Dozier broke the tie with a sac-fly to right. Although it wouldn't last long, thanks to Alonso's lead-off single in the bottom of the fifth that took place seconds prior from ESPN returning from commercial. It was thing of beauty, and Semien kept the ball rolling when he annihilated a 1-0 fastball to left-center field, mere inches away from a two-run home run -- as it ricocheted off the wall and Semien was left out to dry on the relay throw from Mauer to Nunez at third base. Fortunately, Alonso was able to score all the way from first base, knotting the game at two-a-piece.

Lowrie and Vogt jumped on Santana in the sixth, thanks to a lead-off single to left and a sharp double to center field, putting two runners in scoring position for the hot-hitting Danny Valencia. After falling behind 3-0 to Valencia, Santana intentionally walked the A's third baseman to load the bases with no outs for Khris Davis. Immediately I thought a grand slam would be awesome! But a deep sac-fly to center sufficed; allowing Lowrie to score easily from third, giving the A's a 3-2 lead heading into the late innings.

Timely defense from Alonso; shutdown frames from Doolittle and Madson secure Oakland's 22nd win of the season

Things got a bit interesting for the A's in the top of the seventh when John Axford took the mound. It didn't take long for Centeno and Santana to get on base with back-to-back singles to lead-off the inning. Nunez followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third with one-away; but not before Axford twirled out of danger by striking out Dozier -- making way for Sean Doolittle to take the hill for Oakland against the always-dependable Mauer. In the catcher's career, Mauer had posted an impressive .278 batting average with runners in scoring position; and almost came through on the 2-2 count -- as he smoked a liner to the right side of the infield, with the opposition on the move. Luckily, Alonso was in the right place at the right time, and laid out for a leaping catch to keep Oakland's 3-2 lead intact.

Doolittle looked very impressive this afternoon, not only in the seventh, but in the eighth when he retired Sano-Grossman-and Arcia in order; one on a bunt to the south paw and two via the strikeout, where he was consistently hitting 96-97 MPH on the radar gun. Doolittle was straight-up dealing, and so was Ryan Madson who struck out Escobar and Centeno on six pitches -- before inducing a pop-out from Trevor Plouffe to end the ballgame. And rightfully so in ended up in the hands of Alonso, who had an all-around successful day on both sides of the field!

Final Thoughts

I didn't mention much about Graveman's performance, but he sure looked like his old-successful self -- similar to what we witnessed on April 20 against the Yankees. The right-hander consistently hit the corners with his off-speed stuff; whether it was low-and-in or up-and-in, Graveman kept the opposition on their toes -- while simultaneously blowing the fastball by the Twins in six innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts on a glorious Memorial Day at the Coliseum!

We do it all again tomorrow folks, as Eric Surkamp gets the nod for the A's at 7:05 PM PDT.

Santana seems to be doing just fine after the loss, though. LETS GO WARRIORS!