The Oakland Athletics appear poised to continue their dominance over the Minnesota Twins.
With Scott Kazmir attempting to bounce back from his first loss in more than a month, the A’s try for an 11th consecutive victory over the visiting Twins on Friday night.
Jon Lester tossed a three-hitter and Stephen Vogt hit a two-run homer in Oakland’s 3-0 win over Minnesota on Thursday. Owner of baseball’s best record, the A’s (70-44) have won three of four to increase their AL West lead to three games over the Los Angeles Angels.
Lester is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA since being acquired in a deal that sent popular slugger Yoenis Cespedes to Boston last Thursday.
"You want to make the trade look like it had a purpose and it was good," he said.
The A’s have outscored the Twins 89-27 during a 10-game winning streak that dates to a 4-3 loss at Minnesota on Sept. 10. A winner in 15 of 17 over Minnesota (51-62), Oakland has won seven straight at home in the series since a 7-2 defeat Aug. 20, 2012.
Kazmir (12-4, 2.53 ERA) has a 1.95 ERA in his last six starts against the Twins, and improved to 4-0 during that stretch when he gave up three runs in six innings of an 8-3 win at Minnesota on April 7.
The left-hander gave up four runs – all in the fifth inning – and a season-worst 10 hits over six innings in Sunday’s 4-2 home loss to Kansas City. He had allowed five earned runs and 24 hits over 31 1-3 innings while going 3-0 in his five previous starts.
"One bad inning," Kazmir, who can move into a tie for the AL lead in wins, told MLB’s official website.
"I don’t look too far into it. I know what I did wrong."
Vogt’s homer is the only hit in 24 at-bats over his last seven contests for Oakland, which has scored three runs in four straight games and more than that once while splitting the last eight.
They A’s could be in for another serious challenge while facing Kyle Gibson (10-8, 3.93) for the first time Friday.
Minnesota’s most consistent starter in his first full major league season, the right-hander has posted a 1.61 ERA during a four-start road winning streak. The only three runs he’s allowed over 20 innings in his last three away from home came in the fourth inning of a 16-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
"As a starter, I want to go out there and throw six, seven, eight innings every time," said Gibson, who has gone at least seven innings five times while going 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his last seven road outings.
Alberto Callaspo is the only Oakland hitter to face Gibson, going 0 for 3.
Minnesota’s Trevor Plouffe is 6 for 16 with two doubles against Kazmir, but 2 for 33 in his last nine games at Oakland.
A’s manager Bob Melvin became the eighth active manager in the majors and 76th overall to reach 800 career victories Thursday.