In the final regular-season game against the Minnesota Twins, Oakland lost 14-4 to the Twins.
This afternoon’s pitching couldn’t keep up with the Twins lineup, allowing 10 walks and 14 hits. It was only two pitchers who took the majority of the hits, but by the time Oakland turned to a position player to save the bullpen, the damage had already been done and the final score looked even more ominous.
Minnesota’s lineup showed more signs of resiliency today, racking up 12 hits of their own, but it was not nearly enough to keep up with them. The team will have a day off tomorrow.
Pitching for the first time in his career, Daulton Jefferies struggled mightily today. Three Minnesota runs were scored in the first inning thanks to four singles and a walk, including a bases-loaded single by Gary Sanchez.
A Ramon Laureano double and an RBI single from Seth Brown in the other direction by the left fielder put Oakland back in the game.
After a quick 1-2-3 inning on just 10 pitches with two strikeouts in the second, Jefferies seemed to have figured it out. A walk and RBI double from Minnesota extended their lead to 4-1 in the next frame, though.
As it did in the previous game, Oakland rallied to deny the Twins an inning-ending scoreless outing. The offense was sparked once more by Brown’s 2-out triple:
Due to his recent struggles, there had been growing talk about moving Brown down in the lineup from the cleanup spot. After two home runs last night and two more today, he’s getting going in this series. When Christian Bethancourt snuck a single past the third baseman, it brought Brown home.
Jefferies retired in order in the fourth inning to end the game. After a walk and doubles with two outs, the Twins’ lead increased to 6-2. Jefferies ended the inning with a strikeout of Jorge Polanco, but his day was done after he had given up six runs.
Daulton Jefferies: 4 innings, 7 hits, 6 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts, 76 pitches
For the second time in as many starts, Jefferies has allowed at least four runs, and this one must be especially frustrating for the right-hander who has now lost seven straight starts to fall to a dismal 1-7 record. Although starting pitcher records aren’t as important as they once were, it’d be nice if they didn’t look so bad.
It was revealed after the game by manager Mark Kotsay that Jefferies had undergone an MRI for bicep tightness, which may have contributed to his performance today.
As a result, there was a steady stream of relievers emerging from the bullpen at once. The Twins loaded the bases with one out thanks to a pair of singles and a walk by right-hander Justin Grimm. Despite two groundouts, including an excellent play at first base by Brown, Grimm managed to avoid being tripped up, but it was a foreshadowing of things to come from the Minnesota lineup.
A five-run lead for Minnesota was almost insurmountable after Snead gave up three walks and three hits, resulting in a five-run deficit. It was Lou Trivino who ended the inning after Kotsay refused to let Snead complete the inning.
The A’s were held to two runs in six innings by former Athletic great Sonny Gray, who retired his final 10 batters in a row to close out a strong outing.
The A’s came back strongly after he was removed from the game. After a leadoff single from Luis Barrera, Nick Allen was hit by a pitch and Kevin Smith singled to load the bases. If the team was going to mount a seemingly impossible comeback from an 11-2 deficit, it had to begin right here and now. Tony Kemp’s sacrifice fly brought home Barrera, but Oakland could only use one of those runners.
Chad Pinder’s double and Barrera’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth helped the offense score their final run of the game. When asked about the young outfielder following the game, Kotsay had the following to say:
You can expect to see more of him in the lineup over the next few weeks as long as he continues to perform at this level of excellence.
Pinder took the mound in the ninth to keep the A’s bullpen fresh after Adam Kolarek threw two scoreless innings with just one walk for Oakland. Pinder had previously played every position on the field except pitcher and catcher until today. After today, he’ll be able to remove one of those.
Even though Pinder allowed three runs to be scored, this was an opportunity for him to check that box off. It’s only going to get easier for him from here, right? His career ERA is now 27.00.
Despite Kemp and Laureano’s singles in the bottom of the ninth, the A’s couldn’t score another run to improve the final score. It’s too late now.
As a result, the Athletics drop their season series against the Twins, 5-6. Fortunately, we won’t be seeing them again! Joe Stiglich of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that this was Minnesota’s first series victory at the Coliseum since 2010. That’s a lot of time to be gone for.
Even after a strong start to the season, the starting pitcher’s struggles have continued, and one of the pieces acquired in the Matt Chapman trade now has an 8.74 ERA in 14 relief appearances. However, the team’s 12 hits only yielded three doubles and no walks in a game that saw 10 of them.
In any case, the current lineup appears to be a step up from what they’ve shown recently. Barrera had a productive day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run batted in. Both Brown and Laureano had two hits each; Smith had a pair of hits, as did Nick Allen, who made two plays at shortstop, resulting in two double plays.
The Oakland A’s now have a day off before beginning a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim. The Greene & Gold begin a four-game divisional-series series against AL West foes. All of us will see each other at the meeting on Friday.
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