MINNEAPOLIS -- With the first-place Astros off on Thursday, the A's had a chance to pull within a half game of Houston for the AL West lead. But Oakland fell short in its series opener in Minnesota, losing 6-4 to the Twins at Target Field.Thursday's loss marked the first time
MINNEAPOLIS -- With the first-place Astros off on Thursday, the A's had a chance to pull within a half game of Houston for the AL West lead. But Oakland fell short in its series opener in Minnesota, losing 6-4 to the Twins at Target Field.
Thursday's loss marked the first time in its past four series that Oakland dropped a series opener. Some big homers from the middle of the A's order were negated by a lack of timely hitting and a rocky outing from starting pitcher Trevor Cahill.
Oakland went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.
"We just didn't come through with 'em today," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "We always have a good feeling late in the games when we have guys on base, and typically we do come through. Just couldn't get the big hit today."
Oakland got an early boost when Khris Davis hammered a solo homer to open the scoring. Matt Olson followed with a double and later scored on Stephen Piscotty's groundout to give the A's a 2-0 lead.
Davis' long ball was his 39th of the season, giving him the Major League lead. The homer, which traveled an estimated 396 feet according to Statcast™, pushed him one ahead of Boston's J.D. Martinez. Over the past five games, Davis is 8-for-15 with five homers and eight RBIs. It was his 10th homer in August, tying him with Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. for most in the big leagues this month.
The Twins answered back an inning later when Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco smacked consecutive run-scoring singles to tie the game. Minnesota then busted the game open in the fourth when Mitch Garver came on to pinch-hit for catcher Bobby Wilson and drilled a two-run double. Joe Mauer followed with an RBI single to push Minnesota's lead to 5-2.
Thursday ended as another lackluster road start for Cahill, who owns a 0.85 ERA at home this season, but a 7.11 clip on the road. Cahill has yielded at least three runs in all eight road starts this season. By the time he exited after the fifth inning, he had surrendered five earned runs on eight hits while striking out two.
"Definitely hurts pretty bad," Cahill said. "But they've got a tough lineup over there and they put together some good at-bats. Sometimes, you've got to tip your cap. They made me work and they weren't chasing out of the zone. Just kind of a grind."
Oakland trimmed the lead in the fifth when Matt Chapman doubled and later scored on a wild pitch. The A's had a chance to do even more damage in the inning, but Rosario gunned down Olson at home after a Marcus Semien single to take away a run.
In the eighth, Max Kepler became just the second batter this year to homer off of A's closer Blake Treinen. On a 1-1 count, Kepler hammered Treinen's cutter an estimated 400 feet to the right-field bleachers. It was the first homer Oakland's shutdown reliever had surrendered since April 6, and the first run he had allowed since July 21.
"[Treinen] is a guy who likes to pitch," Melvin said. "If he has today off, then we're looking at almost a week. So, would have been six days come tomorrow. Just trying to get him some work. Unfortunately, he gets nicked up for a run, but you want to keep him out there on a fairly consistent basis based on the fact that he likes to pitch and his stuff's better when he does pitch a lot."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rosario robs Olson: The A's had a chance to cut further into Minnesota's lead in the fifth when Semien cracked a two-out single to left that sent Olson sprinting home from second. But Twins left fielder Rosario gathered the ball up after one bounce and uncorked a tremendous throw home. Garver applied the tag, and although the A's challenged the ruling, Olson was called out after a brief video review and the inning ended.
"I guess [Garver] got him up in the head area," Melvin said. "I would probably challenge that one regardless, with what was at stake with the play."
HE SAID IT
"We use it as motivation. I don't think there's any other way to take it. I think we'll come back out here tomorrow, refocus, re-gather ourselves and we come out and take it out on whoever's pitching for them. I think it's [Jake Odorizzi] maybe? I don't know, doesn't matter. We'll come back out here tomorrow and hopefully do some damage."-- A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy, on Oakland's plan to bounce back after losing back-to-back games for the first time in August
The A's will face the Twins for the second of a four-game set Friday at 5:10 p.m. PT. Oakland will send Sean Manaea (11-9, 3.70 ERA) to the mound in search of a bounceback start after the lefty got roughed up by Houston in his previous outing. Minnesota will counter with Jake Odorizzi (5-7, 4.55 ERA).
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.