The Oakland Athletics kicked off the second half of the season with a three-game series at the Oakland Coliseum with the Minnesota Twins. While the 25-67 A’s remain in the cellar of the American League West, the Twins at 45-46 are just one game back of Cleveland in the American League Central Division. Both teams came back from the All-Star break hoping for a strong stretch run.
The Twins opened the game aggressively and were up 1-0 after just five pitches. Carlos Correa doubled, Donovan Solano singled and Byron Buxton hit a sacrifice fly scoring Correa. Kyle Farmer tripled, scoring Solano to make it 2-0. Waldichuk then buckled down to get the next two batters and end the inning.
The A’s got on the board in the bottom of the second with two outs when Shea Langeliers tripled off the right field wall, and Nick Allen singled to right to drive him home. Allen stole second, his first of the year, and Ryan Noda walked for the second time in the game. But JJ Bleday was called out on strikes to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, A’s All-Star Brent Rooker singled and Seth Brown walked. Soderstrom struck out swinging. Then, in his second MLB at-bat, Zack Gelof doubled off the top of the right field wall driving in Rooker and sending Brown to third. Jace Peterson hit a sac fly to give the A’s a 3-2 lead!
In the top of the fourth inning Kyle Farmer and Alex Kirilloff each walked. After a force out at second, Austin Pruitt replaced Waldichuk and gave up a long double to pinch hitter Edouard Julien driving in Farmer. That tied the score at 3-3.
Angel Felipe took over for the A’s in the top of the fifth inning. Carlos Correa led off with a single and Donovan Solano walked to move Correa to second base. Byron Buston grounded into a force out at third base for the first out of the inning. Felipe struck out Farmer for the second out. Willi Castro walked, chasing Felipe, and bringing in Sammy Long with bases loaded and two outs. With a full count on Kirilloff, Long induced a ground out to end the inning and keep the Twins off the board.
With one out in the top of the seventh, Julien singled and Kepler walked. Kotsay pulled Long and brought in Lucas Erceg to face the dangerous Carlos Correa. He struck Correa out looking but walked Donovan Solano to load the bases with two outs. With a 2-2 count on Buxton, Erceg painted the bottom of the strike zone with a 98 MPH fastball to get him looking and end the threat.
Jace Peterson led off the bottom of the sixth with an opposite field double. But the Twins relievers kept the A’s off the board. Erceg was solid with two strikeouts and a weak pop out in the top of the seventh.
JJ Bleday led off the bottom of the seventh with a four-pitch walk, but Rooker bounced into an easy double play, and Brown struck out swinging to end the inning.
Sam Moll replaced Erceg in the eighth but gave up singles to Christian Vasquez and Max Kepler. Shintaro Fujinami replaced Moll to face Carlos Correa with one out. On the tenth pitch of the at-bat. Fuji induced a double play ball to end the inning.
Donovan Solano doubled off Fujinami to open the top of the ninth. After striking out Buxton, Joey Gallo blasted one into the right field bleachers to drive in Donovan and bring the score to 5-3. Ultimately Fujinami struck out three in the inning, but the damage was done.
Tony Kemp doubled off Twins closer Jhoan Duran, and down to his list strike JJ Bleday singled to tighten the game to 5-4. Duran hit Rooker with a pitch, moving the tying run into scoring position. But Seth Brown grounded out to end the game.