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Game #40: A’s throttled by Twins in series finale 14-4

A few bright spots, though!

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland had no answer for the Minnesota Twins today, losing by a final of 14-4 in the final regular-season game against these guys.

The pitching couldn’t hold down the Twins lineup this afternoon, walking 10 batters and giving up 14 total hits. Most of the damage was done against just two pitchers, but it was so out of hand that Oakland turned to a position player to save the bullpen, allowing Minnesota to add on in the ninth and making the final score look even worse.

The lineup showed more signs of coming out of their slump, collecting 12 hits of their own, but no where near enough to keep up with Minnesota today. At least there’s an off day for the team tomorrow.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

Starting pitcher Daulton Jefferies did not have it today, and it showed from the get-go. A combination of four singles and a walk lead to three Minnesota runs in the first inning, including a bases-loaded single by Gary Sanchez.

Oakland answered right back, thanks to a Ramon Laureano double and RBI single from Seth Brown that he took the other way to left field.

It looked like Jefferies had figured it out in the second, getting a quick 1-2-3 inning on just 10 pitches with two strikeouts. He got tagged again in the next frame, though, allowing a walk and RBI double to extend Minnesota’s lead to 4-1.

And again, Oakland came right back and showed some fight, preventing the Twins from getting a shutdown inning. And again, it was Brown who spark the offense with a 2-out triple:

There had been growing chatter to move Brown down in the lineup from the cleanup spot due to his recent struggles. He’s starting to heat up now, with five hits this series, including two last night and two today. Christian Bethancourt brought Brown in with a single that snuck by the third baseman.

The fourth was Jefferies’ last inning of the day. With two outs, a walk and back-to-back doubles pushed the Twins’ lead to 6-2. Jefferies struck out Jorge Polanco to end the inning, but his day was over after allowing six runs.

  • Daulton Jefferies: 4 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 5 K, 76 pitches

He’s now allowed at least four runs in four of his past five starts, All six of the runs Jefferies allowed today came with two outs, so this one has to be extra frustrating for the right-hander, who has now lost seven straight decisions to make his record an unsightly 1-7. Records for starting pitchers don’t matter ass much as they used to, but you’d like for it to not look that bad. Manager Mark Kotsay said after the game that Jefferies was undergoing an MRI for bicep tightness, so maybe that had something to do with his struggles today.

And so began a parade of arms out of the bullpen. Righty Justin Grimm was first out and allowed the Twins to load the bases with just one out thanks to a pair of singles and a walk. A couple groundouts, including a nice play by Brown at first to force out a runner coming home, allowed Grimm to escape unscored upon, but it was a sign of things to come from the Minnesota lineup.

Lefty Kirby Snead started the sixth and promptly and utterly imploded. His day went like this:

Walk

Walk

RBI single

RBI sac fly

Strikeout

Walk

2-run double

RBI single

When all was said and done, Snead had allowed three walks and three hits that lead to a five-spot for Minnesota and made the score almost insurmountable. Kotsay didn’t allow Snead to finish the frame, turning to Lou Trivino who struck out Byron Buxton to finally end the inning.

Former Athletic great Sonny Gray, on the other hand, managed to hold down the A’s this afternoon, retiring his last 10 batters in a row to finish off six strong innings of 2-run ball.

Once he was out of the game, the A’s rallied. Luis Barrera got things going with a leadoff single followed by a Nick Allen HBP and Kevin Smith single to load the bases. If the team was going to mount an impossible comeback attempt down 11-2, it needed to start here. Alas, Oakland could only cash in one of those runners on a Tony Kemp sacrifice fly to bring home Barrera.

The offense added on their final run in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a Chad Pinder double and Barrera RBI single, his third hit of the day, a career first for him. After the game Kotsay had this to say about the young outfielder:

If he keeps up this type of performance he’s going to be a part of the future and even start muscling his way into the lineup on a more consistent bases over the coming weeks.

Left-hander Adam Kolarek pitched a pair of scoreless innings for the A’s, allowing just one walk, but the ninth inning saw Pinder take the mound in an effort by Kotsay to help keep the bullpen fresh. Up until today Pinder had played every position other than pitcher and catcher. Well, he can scratch off one of those after today.

Alright, it didn’t go well, allowing three runs to score, but hey, if there ever was a game for Pinder to check that box off, it was today. His career ERA now stands at 27.00, so it’s only uphill for him from here, right?

The A’s attempted another rally in the bottom of the ninth, getting singles from Kemp and Laureano, but couldn’t push a run across to make the final score look a little better. Oh well.

So Oakland loses the season series against the Twins, losing five of the six games they played this year. On the bright side we don’t have to see them again! On the downside, that was Minnesota’s first series win at the Coliseum since 2010, per Joe Stiglich. That’s a surprisingly long time.

The starting pitcher continued his struggles after a solid start to the year, and one of the pieces brought back in the Matt Chapman trade now has an 8.74 ERA in 14 appearances out of the bullpen. The lineup managed 12 hits, but just three went for extra bases, and they didn’t draw a single walk in a game that saw 10 of them.

Still, you have to like the way the lineup has been looking like compared to what they’ve been showing recently. Barrera had a three-hit day and continues to swing the bat well enough to warrant more playing time. Brown, Laureano, and Smith all had a pair of hits today, and Nick Allen made a pair of plays at shortstop on the two chances he got in the field, creating two double plays for Oakland.

The A’s now get an off-day before beginning a three-game set down south in Anaheim against the Angels. It begins a stretch of four straight divisional-series matchups against AL West opponents for the Greene & Gold. See you all on Friday!