Athletics 1, Twins 0
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Joe Blanton refused to allow his mind wander to what he might be about to accomplish.
Blanton and Carlos Silva kept pounding the strike zone inning after inning. Finally in the sixth, Oakland got to Silva—and Blanton maintained his fast, efficient pace the rest of the way.
He pitched a career-best three-hitter, Shannon Stewart broke a scoreless tie with a double play groundout, and the Athletics snapped the Twins’ season-best five-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory Saturday night.
“I love going deep in games, eating innings and giving the bullpen a rest— ‘Hey, Blanton’s pitching today, we don’t have to worry about it until the seventh, eighth, ninth,”’ Blanton said. “You just get in a pace and flow of the game and just run with it. I’m a guy who prides myself on my command.”
Blanton (5-3) worked ahead all night and ended a three-start winless stretch dating to May 11 against Cleveland, which featured back-to-back losses before Saturday’s outing. He struck out six and didn’t walk a batter in his fifth career complete game and second shutout. Blanton retired 19 of his last 20 batters to finish a 108-pitch performance.
“You don’t see that very often—a right around 100-pitch complete game,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “He had all his pitches working, pretty much pinpoint control. Even his misses were just off the plate.”
The game lasted just 1 hour, 49 minutes, and was the second quickest in the majors this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Seattle beat the A’s 2-0 on April 25 in Oakland in 1:47.
“I looked up in the eighth inning and it’s not even 8 o’clock,” the Twins’ Justin Morneau said. “That’s what happens when two pitchers are doing what they want.”
Luis Castillo singled in his first two at-bats, and he was the only one who could figure out Blanton. The right-hander faced two more than the minimum through four innings.
After Castillo’s two-out base hit in the third, Blanton retired the next 11 Minnesota hitters before Morneau’s one-out single to right in the seventh. Blanton still struck out the side that inning.
“He had all the stuff working,” said catcher Jason Kendall, who had two of Oakland’s five hits.
Nick Swisher saw his season-high 10-game hitting streak end with an 0-for-2 night for the A’s, who won for only the fifth time in their past 12 games.
Silva (3-6), who pitched a season-high 7 1-3 innings to beat the Blue Jays on May 27 to break a four-start losing streak, allowed five hits and one run, struck out two and walked one in eight innings. It was his fourth career complete game and first since June 23, 2005, against Detroit.
“Quick paced to say the least,” Minnesota skipper Ron Gardenhire said. “Both pitchers dominated the game.”
Silva was hoping to build off his previous outing—and had to be pleased with his performance in a fine pitchers’ duel. The right-hander got 1-2-3 innings in the second, fourth and fifth innings.
“It’s funny how one thing can change a game,” Silva said of Stewart’s double play. “We’re playing good baseball, we’re winning and I’m in the rotation. I feel part of the team now.”
Swisher walked with one out in the first but was caught stealing on Milton Bradley’s strikeout for a double play.
Stewart was slated to be off for the second straight day, but entered as a defensive replacement for Travis Buck in the second. Buck left after throwing up in the outfield and on his uniform, then again in the dugout. He hoped to be available Sunday.
Jack Cust replaced Bradley—who came off the DL for the second time this season Wednesday after recovering from a strained left hamstring—in right field in the fifth after Bradley strained his right calf. His status was unclear after the game.
A’s second baseman Mark Ellis returned to the team and was in the lineup a day after the birth of his first child. Ellis doubled to start the A’s rally in the sixth and later singled.
Blanton’s other shutout came May 31, 2006, against Kansas City—and that was his previous low-hit game of five. … The Twins are considering sending injured C Joe Mauer, recovering from a strained left quadriceps, to extended spring training in Florida rather than on a rehab assignment when he is ready—perhaps in the coming days. Mauer sprinted on the field, ran the bases and did agility drills in right field, and could do more Sunday. … Oakland’s Bobby Crosby is 4-for-28 (.143) over his past seven games.