Preview: Twins vs. Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS — Oakland Athletics right-hander Trevor Cahill is as flummoxed as anyone by his extreme home/road splits this season.

The veteran right-hander has a sparkling 0.87 ERA in eight starts at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum in 2018 but owns a 6.62 mark in seven road outings this season.

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“I think it’s just baseball,” Cahill said.

Athletics manager Bob Melvin doesn’t have an answer, either.

“I haven’t seen any difference as far as his stuff goes,” Melvin said.

Whatever the reason for the glaring discrepancy, the A’s will be counting on Cahill (5-2, 3.12 ERA) to buck the trend Thursday night when they open a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Cahill is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in six career appearances, including four starts, against Minnesota. He has not faced the Twins this year, though.

Oakland fell one game back of the Houston Astros in the American League West race Wednesday with a 4-2 loss against the Texas Rangers. The Athletics had won two straight and four of their last five before Wednesday’s setback and have compiled a 13-5 record in August.

“We’ve been playing great and bringing the same attitude every day,” Melvin said of his team, which entered Wednesday’s game with a .264 collective batting average and a 2.64 ERA in the first 17 games this month.

That level of play, as well as the A’s attitude, have propelled them into the AL playoff picture. Though they’re right behind front-running Houston in the West, they will hold a comfortable 4 1/2-game lead over Seattle for the second AL wild card when they take the field against the Twins, whose postseason dreams were dashed weeks ago.

Minnesota is using these last few weeks to evaluate its young talent, including Thursday starter Kohl Stewart.

Stewart posted a 4.76 ERA with Double-A Chatanooga to start the season and earned his first big league call-up after going 0-3 with a 3.98 mark in seven appearances (five starts) for Triple-A Rochester.

He allowed three runs over 4 1/3 innings Aug. 12 in his major league debut at Detroit and allowed three more runs his next time out, but lasted just 2 2/3 innings in the latter game, a 7-5 loss to the Tigers on Saturday in Minneapolis. The 23-year-old only Stewart (0-1, 7.71) allowed three hits in that outing but walked four while throwing just 31 of his 65 pitches for strikes.

“You just can’t fall behind guys like that, can’t walk guys,” said Stewart. “I’ve got to give my team a better chance to win. It was not acceptable. I just wasn’t getting ahead, wasn’t executing pitches. I was one pitch away there in the third, and tried to do too much and got myself in trouble.”

Despite those struggles, manager Paul Molitor opted to leave Stewart in the rotation for another go-round after sitting down with him for a postgame chat.

“It’s a learning experience. I just talked to him about, it’s not so much executing (or) what you’re throwing, it’s, ‘What are you feeling?'” Molitor said. “You’ve got to really be able to seize the moment in terms of controlling your emotions, and do what you do. And it just seemed like it got a little fast.”