A's lead AL West by three games after routing Twins
Oakland's bats plate 10 runs in fourth, set season high with 22 hits
MINNEAPOLIS -- When your biggest concern is your pitcher's arm stiffening in the dugout while the offense bats around in consecutive innings, you know you're having a pretty good night.
The A's scored 10 runs in the fourth inning and batted around again in the fifth, setting a season high with 22 hits and a season high in runs an 18-3 blowout of the Twins at Target Field on Wednesday night. With the win, the A's took a three-game lead over the Rangers in the American League West.
Every Oakland starter had at least one hit, one RBI and a run scored, and seven players had multiple hits. Sonny Gray (3-3) gave up two runs and struck out seven over five innings to earn the win, even after sitting through a 35-minute break while the A's sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth, and a slightly shorter break the next inning as nine more A's batted.
"That can't be easy -- it's not easy to go back out on defense after that, let alone when you just sit there and then you have to go out and pitch," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "He did an excellent job of staying in it and coming out and making pitches right away. It seemed like he didn't miss a beat. He came in and still was making the same pitches he was before."
Gray downplayed the issue, noting that he'd trade a little rust on his arm for the run support he received.
"As a pitcher you'd much rather sit there for 30 minutes than two or three minutes because that means you're scoring some runs," Gray said. "It was nice to have the offensive display we had tonight."
The A's broke the game open by starting the fourth with seven straight hits, and the seventh was a doozy. Jed Lowrie laced a liner past the first-base bag with the bases loaded, and first-base umpire Bill Miller originally called it foul. However, after A's manager Bob Melvin argued, the four umpires converged to discuss the call.
Miller, who was off-balance leaping away from the ball as it skipped past him, overturned his call, ruling it a two-run double for Lowrie and touching off a second argument that ended with Miller ejecting Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
"You could see from our angle it was fair," Melvin said. "[Miller] admitted he was trying to get out of the way of it and didn't get a good view. It's all about getting it right, and they got it right.
"It's unpopular over on the other side. I would have thought the same thing. But they did get it right, and that's what it's all about. So you've got to give credit to the umpire crew."
Other key blows in the inning were a two-run double by Yoenis Cespedes and a two-run homer by Vogt that capped the A's first 10-run frame since they plated 10 at Kansas City on June 18, 2000.
"You can't fall behind in the count and then throw balls down the middle of the plate," said Twins starter Mike Pelfrey (5-12), who was knocked out after allowing four straight hits to start the fourth. "It gets to the point where hitting become contagious. Obviously, those guys caught fire there in the fourth. It was hard to stop."
Lowrie hit his 12th homer with one out and a man on in the fifth, and two batters later Josh Reddick, making his first appearance since coming off the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, had a home run overturned by review and settled for a double.
It was a significant step forward for Reddick, who has been hampered by a wrist injury all season. He showed signs of turning the corner with five home runs in a two-day binge Aug. 9-10 in Toronto, but went on the DL for a second time this season Aug. 26.
Melvin mentioned before the game that the way his team is playing, he might not be able to find many at-bats for the man who led the A's with 32 home runs last year. But with a 13-1 lead, he put Reddick in for Cespedes and his first swing produced a rocket off Cole DeVries that might have changed Melvin's thinking a bit.
"A lot of times getting a hit your first time up can kind of shoo away the cobwebs and get you confident enough to where now he feels like he can contribute right away," Melvin said, "as opposed to the uncertainty of where we are in the season, going in there and playing in games when you're not current on your at-bats."
Coco Crisp led off the third with his 19th home run, a 376-foot blast off the right-field foul pole against Pelfrey, the first of six Twins pitchers. Only Shairon Martis, who pitched the eighth, didn't allow a run.
The 18 runs were the most by the A's since they scored 20 on Aug. 31, 2012.
"I wish we could score as much as possible every day," Gray said. "It's got to be a confidence boost for our whole team and hopefully we can carry it into tomorrow."