The Twins came into today’s game having lost the last 8 games versus the Oakland Athletics who have scored 7 or more runs in each of those contests. The Twins sent Big Mike Pelfrey to the mound for his second start of the season and put recently recalled Darin Mastroianni into the leadoff spot for today’s contest. Two Twins were honored before the game. Joe Mauer received his 2013 Silver Slugger award with his wife, Maddie, and twin daughters, Emily and Maren; Brian Dozier received his Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award as well.
Brian Dozier started things off with a great diving catch to steal a base hit from the Athletics’ Jed Lowrie as part of a 1-2-3 first inning for Mike Pelfrey. The Athletics countered with right hander Dan Straily and his high-80′s/low 90′s fastball for his second start of the season (0-1, 4.50 ERA entering the game). After impressing with the glove, Brian Dozier continued his hot start with a first pitch homerun, his third of the season, to put the Twins up early, 1-0.
Pelfrey gave up three singles in the top half of the 2nd and the Athletics tied the game, 1-1, on the RBI single by Daric Barton. Twins favorite ‘lil Nick Punto worked a walk from Big Pelf to load the bases and bring up leadoff hitter Sam Fuld who popped out to Aaron Hicks to end the threat. Jason “Koobs” Kubel, lucky number 13 this season, got a hold of a pitch in the 2nd and bounced it off the RF wall, just shy of a HR, for his 4th hit in as many at bats. Josmil Pinto picked up a single before Aaron Hicks grounded out to put runners on 2nd and 3rd for Eduardo Escobar with 2 outs. Escobar hit a long fly to center, but Fuld made a nice basket catch to end the inning with the score tied, 1-1.
Pelfrey’s control issues continued in the 3rd. He issued a leadoff walk to Lowrie and continued to miss pitches on both sides of the plate before Josh Donaldson crushed a HR to right-centerfield, 3-1 Athletics. Pelfrey recorded his first strikeout of the game against Alberto Callaspo and then retired Twin killer Derek Norris to end the half-inning with his pitch count at 59. The Twins sent the top of their rotation to bad in the bottom half of the inning and they were retired in order.
Mike “baby sasquatch” Pelfrey retired Barton before walking Punto for the 2nd time today and his fastball command remained elusive into the 4th inning. He fell behind Fuld 3-1 and surrendered a home run to right field to pad the Athletics’ lead, 5-1. Kubel reached time for the 5th consecutive time with a walk in the bottom half of the inning, but the Twins were unable to get the rally going and remained four runs back of the A’s.
Big Pelf was back out to start the 5th, surrendering a single to Yoenis Cespedes and his fourth walk of the game to Norris but was able to get a called third strike on Barton to end the half-inning. Hicks tried to drop in a bunt single to start the bottom of the inning, but Straily made a nice play to get Hicks by half a step at first. That was as close as the Twins would get to a baserunner in the inning, 5-1 Athletics.
Punto and Fuld hit back-to-back singles to start the 6th for the A’s and chased Pelfrey from the game trailing 5-1 and responsible for the runners on 1st and 2nd. Sam Deduno entered the game in relief. Lowrie hit a long fly to rightfield that dropped in for a hit, but Punto who had to wait to see if Mastroianni was able to make the catch was unable to score. Lowrie was caught in a run down between first and second and Punto took off for home. Mauer made a heads up throw to Pinto who tagged out Punto. The other two runners advanced on the throw home, but the play saved a run. Donaldson singled up the middle to score Fuld. Hicks made a nice throw home to get Lowrie at the plate, 6-1 Athletics. Pelfrey finished the day with 5 innings pitched, 6 runs (all earned), 9 hits, 3 strikeouts, 4 walks and 2 home runs to push his ERA to 7.84 on the season. Straily continued to mow down the Twins and faced just three batters in the bottom half of the inning for the third time today.
In the 7th inning Deduno gave up a single and a walk before retiring Punto and getting the Twins back up to bat training by 5. Straily, however, refused to give an inch and sent the Twins down in order. Straily ended the day with 7 innings pitched, 1 run, 3 hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts. Straily did not give up a hit after Punto singled in the 2nd inning.
Back out for the 8th, Deduno recorded the first 1-2-3 inning for the Twins since Pelfrey retired the side in the first. Right-hander Ryan Cook entered the game in relief of Straily and walked Hicks to start the bottom half-inning. Escobar hit a sharp foul that was caught by a bearded Twins fan who looked like a modern day Jesus before popping out to left field. Mastroianni and Dozier were both retired to end the inning, 6-1 A’s.
The Twins turned the ball over to Casey Fien in the 9th. Deduno left the game after 44 pitches. He surrendered 3 hits and a walk in his 3 innings of work to go with 2 strikeouts. He was not charged with any runs, but did allow Fuld to score in the 6th, a run that was charged to starter Mike Pelfrey. Fien gave up a lead off double to Brandon Moss but managed to keep the run from scoring retiring the next three batters he faced. Fernando Abad took the mound for the A’s in the 9th. The Twins were unable to get anything going in the 9th. Mauer gave a 1-1 pitch a long ride, but it was just foul; Mauer struck out for the 2nd time today to finish 0-for-4. The Twins fall to the Athletics for the 9th time in a row, 6-1.
The Twins pitching staff gave up six runs this afternoon, all charged to Pelfrey, 13 hits, 5 walks and 6 strikeouts. Despite allowing 18 men to reach base, the Twins were unable to record a double-play. This game marked only the third time this season (9 games) that the Twins have given up less than 7 runs. The Twins have yet to hold an opponent to less than 3 runs.
The offense went a combined 3-for-29 with 3 walks and 7 strikeouts, their lowest strikeout total of the year (ouch!). The Twins only put 5 runners on base all game, and recorded no hits after the 2nd inning.
Better luck next time around, Twins fans.