After parts of seven seasons in the minor leagues, the Minnesota Twins are set to debut Trevor May, and there will be no easing into things at the big league level.
The 24-year-old gets the ball against baseball’s best team Saturday night as the Twins continue a four-game visit with the Oakland Athletics.
Adding weight to the task are Oakland’s winning streaks in the series of 11 games overall and eight at home.
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May, one of Minnesota’s top pitching prospects, will face the top scoring team in the majors, and he’ll be opposed by one of Oakland’s prized recent additions, Jeff Samardzija.
May went 8-6 with a 2.93 ERA – fourth best in the International League – in 17 starts for Triple-A Rochester. The right-hander recorded 91 strikeouts in 95 1-3 innings but also walked 37 while holding opponents to a .215 average.
"It’s definitely exciting," May told MLB’s official website. "To have this happen is a little bit surreal. But I had the flight here to get that out of the way. Now that I’m in the clubhouse it feels like another day at the field, but I’m excited to be here. It’s just one of those cool things that happens in your life and happens only once."
Samardzija (2-1, 3.09 ERA) has led the A’s to wins in five of his six starts since switching leagues while limiting opponents to a .200 average. He’s also issued just five walks, and his 1.03 walks per nine innings and 0.82 WHIP since making his Oakland debut on July 6 rank among the best in baseball.
The right-hander didn’t earn the decision in Monday’s 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay after allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings, but he was happy to keep the team in the game, watch a flawless bullpen and celebrate an extra-innings win.
"Seems to be my M.O. since I’ve been here," Samardzija said. "Go out and throw some innings and then watch these guys put on a show at the end of the game. I love this team, man. I love how they play, they don’t quit. Every at-bat means the world to each guy."
His one career start against Minnesota on June 9, 2012 was a mess, yielding eight runs and nine hits over 3 2-3 innings.
May could actually be catching Oakland (71-44), which has plated 563 runs, at a decent time. Although the A’s have won both games to start the series after Friday’s 6-5 final, they’ve scored more than three runs twice in the last nine games while batting .208.
John Jaso and Brandon Moss are both 1 for 22 in six games this month, while Stephen Vogt is 2 for 26 over eight games after batting .361 in his first 44 contests.
During the nine-game hitting dip, the pitching has been strong enough to manage five wins.
Minnesota (51-63), loser of three straight, will want to try to get to Samardzija considering the A’s bullpen is riding a club record of 28 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings.
"In a few months once the season’s over it will be cool to look back on," said closer Sean Doolittle, whose 18 saves are the most by an Oakland left-hander. "Obviously I’m really proud to be in the Oakland record books. We have work left to do this season."
The Twins’ offense, though, hasn’t been able to break through in the series with 10 hits.
Danny Santana is 1 for his last 15, while former A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki is 2 for 15 against his former club.
Oswaldo Arcia, though, is batting .343 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in nine career games against Oakland.