OAKLAND 7, MINNESOTA 2 IN OAKLAND
Date: Thursday, July 4.
Batting stars: Nelson Cruz was 3-for-5 with a double. Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-3. Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.
Pitching stars: Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one. Trevor May struck out three in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.
Opposition stars: Chris Herrmann was 4-for-4. Robbie Grossman was 3-for-4. Marcus Semien was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his twelfth and thirteenth) and five RBIs. Tanner Anderson pitched 4.2 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on nine hits and two walks and striking out three. Wei-Chung Wang pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up no hits and a walk and striking out one.
The game: A two-out rally in the first produced one run for the Twins. Cruz and Luis Arraez singled and Miguel Sano walked to fill the bases and Adrianza reached on catcher's interference. They missed a chance for more, though, when Schoop flied out. They missed another chance in the third, when Cruz led off the inning with a single but was caught stealing. The Twins got two more singles in the inning, but they went for naught.
The Athletics similarly missed a chance in the third, when they had men on first and third with one out, but they tied it in the fourth on singles by Khris Davis, Grossman, and Herrmann. The Twins took the lead back in the fifth when Cruz doubled and Adrianza singled him home, but Oakland went in front to stay in the bottom of the fifth. Semien homered to start the inning. Matt Chapman walked, Matt Olson singled, and Davis walked. A double play brought home the go-ahead (or go-behind, depending on your point of view) run.
It remained 3-2 until the eighth, when Oakland broke it open. Grossman and Herrmann singled and Jurickson Profar was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Semien unloaded them with a grand slam, and the game was gone. The Twins, who had not mounted a threat since the fifth, got a leadoff double in the ninth from Max Kepler, but he did not move past second.
WP: Wang (1-0). LP: Jose Berrios (8-5). S: None.
Notes: Arraez remained in left field. Adrianza was at first base in place of C. J. Cron.
Arraez was 1-for-5 and is batting .414. Polanco was 0-for-5 and is batting .313.
I don't know why Rocco has suddenly decided Littell is a one-inning guy. The whole point of putting him on the roster was to have a guy who could pitch multiple innings. His last four games, though, he's gone one inning in each, and the game before that he went two. To his credit, he's done well in that role. In fact, if you throw out the awful game in Tampa Bay, he has an ERA of zero and has given up six hits and three walks in eight innings. That's pretty good. But he's supposed to be The Bullpen Guy Who Can Fill Up Some Innings, and Rocco's not giving him the chance to do that.
This was kind of an embarrassing loss for the Twins. Tanner Anderson is a career nothing whose major league ERA was 6.83 going in and who wasn't any good in AAA this year either. Yet, the Twins could manage only two runs off him in 4.2 innings, and if not for catcher's interference it would've been one. Yes, they had nine hits, but only one of them was for an extra base. The Twins could also do nothing with Lou Trivino (ERA 4.62) and Joakim Soria (4.76). Plus, the Twins had their best pitcher going. This is a game they should've won easily, and instead they lost by five runs. Yes, this is baseball and it happens, but it's been happening a lot to the Twins lately, and it's not good.
But, there's nothing to be done about now, so we head home to take on the Texas Rangers. Maybe Martin Perez will have a good game and the Twins can put together a few wins heading into the all-star break.
Record: The Twins are 54-32, in first place in the American League Central, six games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We'll just have to settle for 130-32!