The Minnesota Twins are on the verge of matching their longest
win streak of a trying season, but they may have to produce a few
more runs to accomplish that feat.
That may not be easy as they’ll face surprising Tyson Ross in
Thursday’s finale of a two-game set with the Oakland Athletics.
Despite averaging 2.3 runs in its last six games, Minnesota
(14-27) managed to record consecutive wins for the fourth time this
season with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Wednesday in Oakland.
Trevor Plouffe went 2 for 4 with a career-high three RBIs,
including the go-ahead sacrifice fly.
“As easy as you lose games you can win games,” Plouffe said.
The Twins, hitting .207 over their last 11 contests, previously
won three in a row May 3-6 and matching that streak might prove
tough against Ross, who is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last four
starts. He gave up two runs and six hits over a career-high 7 1-3
innings in Saturday’s 6-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.
“He’s learning how to pitch,” catcher Kurt Suzuki told the
team’s website. “We all knew he had great stuff and now he’s not
trying to go too fast. He’s slowing himself down. Quality location,
making quality pitches and good things happen.”
Ross (3-2, 2.50 ERA), who has never started against Minnesota,
joined the A’s rotation after Dallas Braden needed season-ending
surgery on his left shoulder.
“We’ll miss Dallas for sure,” reliever Brad Ziegler said. “At
the same time, I feel like we haven’t missed a beat with Tyson.
Everybody always talks about in basketball that when one guy goes
down, it’s not like you’re playing four on five. Somebody else
comes in, and that’s the same case here.”
Like Ross, Minnesota’s Nick Blackburn (2-4, 3.70) has also
thrived lately, going 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last three
Blackburn pitched a season-high 7 2-3 innings Saturday against
Toronto and retired 17 straight during one stretch of that game.
However, he also gave up a tying triple to one of the final batters
“That kind of spoils what would’ve been a pretty good outing,”
he said. “I still feel pretty good. I made some pretty good pitches
and all that stuff, but the fact that it ended that way is still
Blackburn might not have much better luck Thursday as he’s 0-4
with a 7.99 ERA in last five starts against Oakland. The
right-hander, though, gave up an unearned run and six hits during a
1-0 defeat at Target Field on April 9.
He might catch a break in this matchup with Coco Crisp possibly
out of the lineup due to personal reasons. The A’s outfielder, who
is 8 for 16 in his last four games, is 5 for 11 in his career
“I’m not positive if he’ll be back tomorrow, but hopeful,”
manager Bob Geren said.
Delmon Young has the Twins’ only hit against Ross, but he is
2-for-17 with 10 strikeouts since returning from the disabled list.
He’s also been held out of the lineup for consecutive days but
might return Thursday.
“Delmon was scuffling along, and this gives him a chance to take
(batting practice) and get out there and relax a little bit and
watch a couple (games),” manager Ron Gardenhire told the team’s
website. “So we’ll let him get back in there tomorrow.”