The Minnesota Twins are halfway through their longest road trip in 39 years. They hope the second half goes better than the first.
The Twins look to build off their most recent victory when they open a four-game set against the Oakland Athletics in one of three series Thursday night to feature the debut of instant replay.
Replay will be used earlier in the evening when the Chicago Cubs host Philadelphia, as well as in Oakland and when the Los Angeles Angels host Texas. Replay will be available to umpires for all games starting Friday.
Replays will be used on potential home runs, to determine whether balls went over the fence, were fair or foul or if there was fan interference. Only the umpires’ crew chief can request to see a replay.
“I think they will be all right,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ official Web site. “I think anytime you can help out umpires is good.”
The Twins (75-68) rallied for a 6-5 win over Seattle on Wednesday to snap a four-game losing streak and move within one game of AL Central-leading Chicago, which lost later in the evening.
Minnesota is 3-4 on its 14-game road trip, which is occurring due to the Republican National Convention beginning in the Twin Cities next week. The franchise’s longest road stretch since trips of 15 and 16 straight games in 1969 concludes with a three-game set in Toronto.
“Obviously these games mean a lot for us,” catcher Mike Redmond told the Twins’ official Web site. “Everybody knows we are on a tough road trip. No one has to remind us. We just have to keep grinding.”
On Wednesday, Denard Span drove in three runs and threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning after Minnesota scored three times in the top of the frame. First baseman Justin Morneau added two hits and is 8-for-18 in his last four games.
The rookie Span, meanwhile, is batting .318 in 51 games since being recalled from the minors.
Nick Blackburn (9-8, 3.78 ERA) looks to avoid a third straight loss for the Twins after allowing six runs - three earned - and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
The right-hander, who is 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA over his last three starts, allowed three runs in eight innings of a 3-2 loss to Oakland on Aug. 18 - his only career start versus the A’s.
Oakland (61-72) counters with Dana Eveland (8-8, 4.30), who allowed one run and five hits while striking out seven in seven innings of a 5-1 victory at Seattle on Saturday, his first start since being recalled from the minors.
“I hit my spots, threw a lot of strikes,” said Eveland, who had been sent to the minors earlier this month after going 0-3 with a 10.59 ERA in a four-start span. “It was a good day all around. It felt really good to get out there again and to win again was just a bonus.”
The left-hander has never faced Minnesota.
Emil Brown homered and drove in three runs in Oakland’s 6-5 win at Los Angeles on Wednesday. The A’s took two of three games from the Angels to win a series for the their first time in 13 attempts since winning three of four against Seattle July 7-10.