A’s fend off late Twins charge

O.CO COLISEUM — It was beautiful for the first six innings Friday night. Then A’s starter Scott Kazmir’s one-hitter against the Twins collapsed into a one-run nail-biter.

In the seventh, Kazmir (W, 13-4, 2.73 ERA) turned a 6-0 lead into a 6-5 nail-biter. But the hemorrhaging stopped, and the A’s held on over Minnesota to pull off their major-league leading 71st win of the season.

Oakland’s offensive woes appear to be so last month. With lead-off hitter Coco Crisp back, the A’s bats have been potent.

It was a good thing too, because Oakland needed every last one of their six runs.

Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay

With lead-off hitter Coco Crisp back, the A’s bats have been potent. Crisp said:

“It’s always nice to score runs for your starting pitcher. (Kazmir) has been amazing for us, he did a great job tonight. (Minnesota) had one big inning. Luckily, Doolittle and guys that came in were able to close them out.”

Crisp’s Friday magic couldn’t have come at a better time, because Oakland needed every last one of their six runs.

Kazmir was yanked with two outs in the seventh inning, and Ryan Cook came in with the score 6-4. Cook allowed one inherited runner in scoring position to cross the plate, but was able to get out of the inning with the lead intact.

Kazmir entered the seventh inning after throwing only 61 pitches, allowing a single hit and no walks, and striking out three batters.

Somewhere in the inning, things went south. Kazmir went from virtually unhittable to practically unmissable. On what happened, Kazmir said:

“I felt good out there from the get go. I was able to mix up my pitches and locate wherever I wanted. That seventh inning came, and they put some good swings on the ball. Instead of making those quality pitches when I’m ahead in the count, I was leaving it up and they were putting quality swings to it.”

Danny Santana, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Parmalee all scored on a series of hits and defensive miscues.

The A’s, though, behind some offense generated by Crisp, held on for another victory.

Oakland’s key fifth-inning rally started after Stephen Vogt, Sam Fuld and Eric Sogard reached base. Crisp tripled to deep center field, sending everyone home.

On the next at bat, Crisp scored on a passed ball with Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki unable to block starter Kyle Gibson’s (L, 5 IP, 5 H, 5 ER) breaking pitch.

Sogard singled in the sixth inning to drive in Vogt and Josh Reddick for what turned out to be the game-winning tallies.

Luke Gregerson pitched a perfect eighth inning for the A’s before closer Sean Doolittle picked up his 18th save of the year.

Oakland’s bullpen hasn’t allowed a run to score in their last 28 and two-thirds innings, which is a team record. Manager Bob Melvin explained some minor consistencies, which have been paying big dividends:

“They’ve been on a roll, no doubt about it. We kind of figured out where the roles were and they can prepare a little better. They know when the phone rings, who’s coming in the game. It took us a little while to get there, but we have a lot of quality there, depth, the whole bit.”

Doolittle’s save is the the most for any lefty closer since the A’s moved from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968.

A nonchalant Doolittle said:

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I didn’t know that either of those were records that our bullpen or myself could have gotten tonight, but it wasn’t really something that we were thinking about. I think it’s one of those things that, when the season is over in a few months, it’s something that will be cool to look back on.”

The A’s are a season-high 27 games over .500, and have won 15 of their last 20. The win also bumped Oakland’s lead in the American League West to four games, after the Los Angeles Angels lost 4-2 to visiting Boston.

Some of the A’s missing offense has been found in shortstop Jed Lowrie. He is coming back to form and has 10 multi-hit game in his last 26.

The win is Oakland’s it’s 11th win against the Twins this season, another team record. The A’s will look to add to that Saturday, with Jeff Samardzija slated to pitch.


Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Athletics.