Twins 6, Athletics 2
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The Minnesota Twins won’t be worried about aesthetics in the second half.
Torii Hunter and A.J. Pierzynski each drove in two runs and Rick Reed pitched seven solid innings Thursday night as the Twins ended an eight-game losing skid with a 6-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
Minnesota is 7 1/2 games behind Kansas City in the AL Central—the division it won by 13 1/2 last season.
“It wasn’t beautiful,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s a nice way to start the second half.”
Jacque Jones went 3-for-5 in his return from the disabled list for the Twins, who snapped Oakland’s five-game winning streak and seemed sparked by the acquisition of outfielder Shannon Stewart and the three-day All-Star break.
“Guys went home, relaxed their minds and didn’t think about any baseball,” Hunter said.
Chris Singleton was 2-for-3 with an RBI for Oakland, which is 1-5 against Minnesota this year.
“It wasn’t pretty,” first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said, “but we got the job done.”
After losing 12 of their previous 13 games, the Twins found life against Oakland ace Tim Hudson (7-4), who had never before lost to Minnesota in the regular season.
Stewart, acquired from Toronto the day before, went 0-for-2 in the first inning. But his new teammates had six singles—many of them soft ones—and five runs while the A’s made three errors.
“Obviously it was one of our poorer fielding games,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “We took quite a bit of infield before the game. Maybe that was a bad idea.”
Hunter knocked in a run with a single, and Pierzynski drove in two with a blooper to center. Pierzynski later scored when Mientkiewicz’s single scooted in and out of right fielder Terrence Long’s glove for an error.
Mientkiewicz scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Dustan Mohr to make it 5-0.
“As long as we keep something going,” Mientkiewicz said.
The miserable inning was reminiscent of Game 4 of last October’s division series, when the Twins scored seven unearned runs and knocked Hudson out in the fourth inning of an 11-2 victory. Minnesota won Game 5 the next day to advance to the AL championship series.
“It was eerily similar,” Hudson said. “It didn’t seem like things were quite right in either case.”
Hudson settled down and retired 19 of the next 25 batters. The only additional run he allowed was an opposite-field solo homer by Hunter in the second that put Minnesota up 6-1.
He gave up 11 hits and six runs, four earned, in seven innings. He walked one and struck out two.
Perhaps most important for Minnesota was the boost Reed (5-9) gave its struggling starting rotation. He scattered eight hits, allowing two runs and two walks while striking out one.
The A’s hit three straight sharp singles with two outs in the second, with Singleton’s hit driving in Terrence Long to cut the lead to 5-1.
Second baseman Luis Rivas relayed home to try to get Tejada, but Mientkiewicz alertly cut it off and threw to third for an easy out on the advancing Hernandez.
Reed was reminded, via a visit from pitching coach Rick Anderson in the second, to use his breaking ball.
“He kicked me in the rear and got me back on track,” Reed said.
Stewart arrived at the ballpark from his home in Miami about two hours before the game, but his equipment didn’t make it in time from Toronto. “It’s got to go through some sort of quarantine, I guess. I don’t know,” Gardenhire joked. Stewart, using borrowed bats, finished 0-for-5 as the DH. … Eric Byrnes went 0-for-4 for Oakland and is now 4-for-48 in July. … Entering the game, Hudson was 6-0 with a 1.68 ERA in his career against the Twins and 2-0 with an 0.59 ERA in his previous four starts overall. … Oakland 1B Scott Hatteberg, charged with one of his team’s four errors, had a rough night in the field. Twice, he let a grounder roll out of his glove for a single after a diving attempt. In the seventh, he couldn’t scoop a low relay from second baseman Mark Ellis on an attempted double play. … Jones had been out sinceJuly 1 with a strained groin.