After a downpour that caused the original 1:07 p.m. start time to be pushed back to 3:05, the A’s came out and battered the Minnesota Twins en route to a 9-1 win, pulling themselves one game closer to a second straight American League West title.
It took Jarrod Parker 18 pitches (15 of them to the first two batters) to get through the first, stranding a one-out Brian Dozier infield single in the process.
Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson singled against Pedro Hernandez in the bottom of the inning. After Yoenis Cespedes flew out, Alberto Callaspo dropped a single into left field, scoring Lowrie and granting Oakland a quick 1-0 lead.
Oakland put up a five-spot in the second: Michael Choice reached second on an infield single and Pedro Florimon’s throwing error. Daric Barton then singled, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Chris Young brought in Choice with a sacrifice fly to right, giving the A’s a 2-0 advantage. One out later, Josh Donaldson uncorked a double off the scoreboard in left, putting runners at second and third with two outs – who singled to left, bringing in two more runs for a 4-0 A’s lead.
But they weren’t finished in the inning, as Alberto Callaspo lined a two-run homer to dead left field, extending the lead to 6-0 and ending Hernandez’s afternoon.
Parker finished the fourth at 58 pitches, having only allowed the Twins two singles (one reaching the outfield) in his four scoreless frames to start the game.
The A’s picked up leadoff doubles from Reddick (in the third) and Lowrie (in the fourth) against new pitcher Liam Hendriks but failed to score on both occasions, sending the game into the fifth with Oakland on top 6-0.
Josmil Pinto muscled up on an outside pitch from Parker in the fifth for a solo homer to left, putting the Twins on the board at 6-1, still just the third hit allowed by Parker through five. Brian Dozier cracked a one-out double in the sixth against Parker, who was up to 84 pitches at this point, but Parker finished the inning – his final inning- without any damage, ending with a line of 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.
In the bottom of the seventh, Callaspo singled (his third hit of the day) and Kurt Suzuki got into the act, lining a two-run homer to left center to extend the A’s lead to 8-1. An inning later, Cespedes hit his 26th homer of the season, a solo shot to left to increase the lead to 9-1. Callaspo then picked up his fourth hit of the day, tying a career-high for the infielder.
Dan Otero and Jerry Blevins pitched the game’s final three innings to lock down the victory for the A’s, who shrunk their magic number to one with the win.
After the game, A’s players gathered in the clubhouse, hopeful to see the Rangers lose and the magic number hit the ‘zero’ mark. Texas held on, though, defeating the Royals 3-1, so Oakland will have to try to clinch the West on Sunday, either through a victory over Minnesota or a Rangers loss.
Sonny Gray (3-3, 2.50 ERA) will take the mound against Cole De Vries (0-0, 7.58 ERA) on Sunday with the A’s on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT.