The Oakland A’s picked up a half-game on the Texas Rangers in the A.L. West with an 8-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon.
A.J. Griffin tossed one of his strongest outings of the season, allowing just two hits and one run in seven innings. Offensively, the A’s picked up where last night’s 18-3 drubbing left off, scoring early and often against Twins starter Scott Diamond and a handful of relievers.
Things got going for Oakland in the third, when Derek Norris doubled and Daric Barton singled, bringing up Coco Crisp. Crisp hit into a fielder’s choice, reaching first on the play and scoring Norris for the A’s first run. After Josh Donaldson walked, Jed Lowrie brought in Crisp with an RBI single to center before Yoenis Cespedes cleared the bases with a two-run triple to deep center. That quickly, the A’s had a 4-0 lead over the Twins.
The A’s added a fifth run in the fifth inning: Crisp reached on an error and stole second, scoring on Donaldson’s single to left field. An inning later, Chris Young tripled and scored on Josh Reddick’s sac fly, providing the A’s with their sixth run of the day.
Griffin’s only slip-up came in the seventh, when Oswaldo Arcia lined a solo home run to left field, reducing the A’s lead to a still-comfortable 6-1.
Oakland would tack on two more runs in the eighth against Brian Duensing. Young doubled (pushing his batting average over the .200 mark for the season) before Reddick clubbed a two-run homer to straightaway right field, increasing the lead to 8-1.
Dan Otero allowed the Twins to score a run in the eighth when he allowed singles to Trevor Plouffe, Pedro Florimon and Alex Presley, but limited the damage to just the one tally, resulting in the game’s final score of 8-2.
Grant Balfour, who hadn’t made an appearance since last Friday against the Houston Astros, pitched the ninth and closed out the win for Oakland.
As mentioned above, the victory increased the A’s lead over the Rangers in the West to 3.5 games.
The A’s (85-61) will open up a big three-game series in Arlington tomorrow against the Rangers with a great opportunity to put some serious distance between themselves and Texas. Dan Straily (9-7, 4.15 ERA) will take on Derek Holland (9-8, 3.17 ERA) at 5:05 p.m. PDT.