The Minnesota Twins spent the first seven innings of Sunday's game against the Oakland Athletics the way they spend all of Saturday's game against the Oakland Athletics. . .not scoring any runs. By the time they got the offense going, it was too late, and the Twins lost once again, this time by the score of 5-3. The Twins have dropped two out of three in each of their first three series of the year, giving them a 3-6 record on the young season.
Neither team was able to generate much offense over the course of the first five innings, with the only run being scored when Hideki Matsui hit a solo home run off of Twins' starter Scott Baker (0-2, 6.55). The wheels came off for Baker in the sixth, however, as Josh Willingham greeted Baker with another solo home run to make the score 2-0. Baker then gave up a single to Matsui and a ground rule double to Ryan Sweeney, and his afternoon was done.
Jeff Manship came on in relief, and walked Mark Ellis to load the bases. Kevin Kouzmanoff lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Matsui, and Landon Powell doubled to right to score Sweeney, making it 4-0. Glen Perkins then came in to relieve Manship, and allowed another sacrifice fly before getting out of the inning with the Twins down 5-0.
The Twins had blown a golden opportunity in the previous inning, as Jason Kubel led off with a ground rule double. After Michael Cuddyer flew out to left, Danny Valencia laced a single to right field. Valencia, thinking that the Twins would send Kubel from third, put his head down and chugged for second base. Only one problem. . .the Twins held Kubel at third, Athletics' first baseman Daric Barton cut off the throw from the outfield, and Valencia was tagged out in the ensuing rundown. Alexi Casilla then struck out to end the threat for Minnesota.
The Twins finally got on the board in the eighth, as Denard Span singled with one out, and Joe Mauer's double advanced him to third. Justin Morneau grounded out to first to score Span, making it 5-1. Jim Thome then launched an absolute bomb to center field off of Brandon McCarthy (1-0, 3.52) to make it 5-3. The home run was measured at 444 feet, and the man that Twinkie Town calls Jimmer now has the five longest home runs in the short history of Target Field. Unfortunately, that's all the Twins would get, as Grant Balfour retired Delmon Young to end the eighth, and former Twin Brian Fuentes pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to end the game.
McCarthy got the win for the Athletics after scattering nine hits and only allowing two runs in 7.1 innings. Fuentes registered his third save of the season.
The Twins are off on Monday, and they'll follow that with an abbreviated two-game set at Target Field against the Kansas City Royals before heading back out on the road.