If the Minnesota Twins expect to make their longest road trip of the season a successful one, they’re going to have to find a way to end their struggles in Oakland.
The Twins will try to avoid a fourth consecutive loss at McAfee Coliseum on Friday as they continue their four-game series against the Athletics.
Minnesota (75-59) is 46-23 at home this season but hasn’t been nearly as dominant on the road, where it is 29-36 and has lost 13 of its last 21 games.
The Twins are also 11-18 at Oakland (62-72) since the start of the 2002 season, including a 3-2 loss in Thursday’s series opener. Nick Punto singled in Delmon Young to tie the game for the Twins in the seventh inning, but Oakland pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki’s RBI double won it in the ninth.
With the defeat, Minnesota fell to 3-5 on its 14-game road trip - the franchise’s longest since trips of 15 and 16 straight games in 1969. The current swing was necessitated by the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities next week.
“We’re on a long road trip and we’ve been battling things a lot ourselves, so we’re just trying to figure out how to do a little better job on the road trip,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We know what happens here with us and the A’s. It’s always a battle.”
The Twins are also battling in the standings, as they are 1 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Chicago and 2 1/2 games back of wild card-leading Boston. The White Sox, who were idle Thursday, open a three-game set against the wild-card leading Red Sox on Friday.
Minnesota sends Kevin Slowey (10-8, 3.74 ERA) to the mound Friday night.
The right-hander has dominated the A’s in two career starts against them, posting a 1.38 ERA in those outings. He struck out a career-high 12, and allowed one earned run and five hits in a 13-2 home victory on Aug. 19.
Slowey - 8-2 with a 3.00 ERA in his last 13 starts overall - left without a decision Sunday after holding the Los Angeles Angels to two runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss.
Bobby Crosby and Ryan Sweeney - activated from the disabled list (sprained right thumb) earlier in the day - each finished with two hits Thursday for the Athletics, who have won consecutive games for the first time since July 10 and 11.
An AL-worst 11-28 since the All-Star break, the A’s aim for three consecutive wins for the first time since a four-game run June 13-17.
“That’s how you get on a roll,” Oakland designated hitter Frank Thomas said. “We’ve been through some tough times the last month and a half.”
On Friday, the A’s hand the ball to Dan Meyer (0-2, 5.95), who will make his third start of the season and his first career appearance versus the Twins.
The left-hander, who is 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA in six career games at McAfee Coliseum, gave up four runs and three hits in five innings of an 8-4 loss at Seattle on Sunday.