Twins 11, Athletics 1
This is what Twins manager Ron Gardenhire expected from his team
all along: Balls flying out of the yard, steady starting pitching
and a winning streak thrown in for good measure.
Minnesota did all of that and more, and now the Twins no longer
have the worst record in baseball.
Justin Morneau homered and had three hits and Rene Rivera hit
his first home run in nearly five years, and the suddenly resurgent
Twins beat the Oakland Athletics 11-1 on Thursday.
”We’ve been beat up and some guys are starting to feel a little
bit better,” said Gardenhire after Minnesota’s biggest offensive
outburst of the season. ”We had a fun series here. Are we out of
the woods? No. We still have issues, we still have things we have
to get better at. Today was a good day for us.”
Nick Blackburn pitched seven solid innings for Minnesota, which
has won three straight – all on the road – following a season-high
nine-game losing streak.
Trevor Plouffe also homered while Michael Cuddyer added three
hits for Minnesota. Plouffe homered as part of a six-run eighth
inning, the Twins’ best of the season.
Hideki Matsui walked and scored for the A’s, who lost their
starting pitcher Tyson Ross to a strained left oblique after
throwing just seven pitches.
”You just try to get through 27 outs with your bullpen,”
Oakland manager Bob Geren said. ”It was a rough day, but we’ll
bounce back. This is one you just put behind you.”
Blackburn (3-4) gave up five hits and allowed only one runner
past second base to end a three-start winless skid. He struck out
two and walked one.
Phil Dumatrait pitched the eighth and Anthony Swarzak worked the
ninth to complete the six-hitter.
Morneau hit a two-run shot off Craig Breslow in the fifth to
make it 4-0.
Plouffe hit a three-run homer in the eighth when Minnesota
batted around and scored six runs.
The Twins got plenty of offense to complete the two-game sweep
of the A’s while matching their longest winning streak of the
season. Every starter except second baseman Alexi Casilla had at
least one hit while eight different Minnesota players drove in
”We’ve scored runs, just not this year … yet,” Gardenhire
said. ”We really believe we can. We believe if we can get the
stars lined up, we can do some damage.”
Cuddyer went 3 for 4 to raise his average to .267. Cuddyer needs
four hits to become the 14th player in franchise history to reach
1,000 for his career.
Rivera and Danny Valencia each had two hits.
Rivera, making a rare start in place of Drew Butera, was only 1
for 15 this season before his solo homer off Oakland reliever David
Purcey with one out in the second.
It’s Rivera’s first home run since June 9, 2006. The backup
catcher spent the past four seasons in the minor leagues with four
different clubs before signing with Minnesota in December.
”It’s a pretty good feeling, I can’t lie,” Rivera said. ”I’ve
been working hard in the cage, taking early BP to try to get my
swing back. I don’t mind going 0 for 4 if we win. To hit is a plus
Blackburn didn’t need much support from the offense.
The Twins’ right-hander has not surrendered more than two earned
runs in his past four starts and has won 10 consecutive decisions
in May dating to 2009.
Blackburn only allowed two Oakland runners to reach second base
through the first six innings – both with the help of errors. He
also got some help from Rivera, who threw out A’s leadoff hitter
Coco Crisp trying to steal second after Crisp singled in the
The A’s broke through for a run in the seventh but got little
Matsui walked, took third on David DeJesus’ single then scored
on Mark Ellis’ fielder’s choice grounder.
Ross (3-3) strained his left oblique and was removed after
throwing only seven pitches.
The lanky right-hander gave up a single to Twins’ leadoff hitter
Denard Span. Ross’ 1-1 pitch to Trevor Plouffe got by A’s catcher
Kurt Suzuki, who was charged with a passed ball.
Ross then wandered around the mound for a few moments before A’s
trainers were called to the mound. Ross walked off under his own
”It’s a little tight right now,” Ross said. ”The first pitch
to the second hitter it felt like I had a muscle spasm or a cramp.
The next pitch I really felt it, and the third pitch I said I can’t
throw with this.”
Purcey rushed in from the bullpen and assumed the count on
Plouffe, who grounded out. Span later scored on an RBI single by
The Twins head to Arizona for a three-game interleague series
with the Diamondbacks.
Before that, however, Minnesota’s players and coaches will
attend a funeral for Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew in Peoria,
Ariz. Killebrew will be buried in a private service Monday in his
hometown of Payette, Idaho.
”It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow, saying goodbye,”
Gardenhire said. ”He’s watching over us, we know that.”
Note: Ross is the first A’s pitcher to leave after throwing
seven pitches or fewer since Omar Olivares did it on June 16,