Oakland, CA – The Twins rallied back in the seventh scoring five runs trimming the lead to one. It took the A’s bullpen to hold on for the 6-5 victory after Scott Kazmir unraveled after pitching six scoreless innings. He yielded five runs in the seventh, the most he’s allowed in an inning this season.
“They put some good swings on the ball,” Kazmir said. “But at the same time instead of making those quality pitches when I’m ahead of the count, I was just leaving it up and they were putting good swings to it.”
It started off as a pitchers duel, neither pitcher allowed a run through four frames. Kazmir almost went the distance by not allowing a batter on base through six innings. He tossed a no-hitter through four frames, while Kyle Gibson surrendered a double to Josh Donaldson in the first and a walked Coco Crisp in the third.
Jed Lowrie hit a triple in the fourth giving Oakland a chance to get on the board with two outs. But Josh Reddick grounded out to end the inning. Minnesota tried to rally after Kennys Vargas leadoff single broke up Kazmir’s no-hitter in the fifth. But the Twins next batter struck out and hit into a double play.
“We got behind early and we had the one bad inning out there,” said manager Ron Gardenhire. “We made a nice run but we came up short.”
The A’s got another opportunity in the fifth when Gibson issued a free pass to Stephen Vogt to leadoff the inning. Sam Fuld hit an infield bunt, tripped over first baseman, Chris Parmelee and advanced to second on a throwing error from third baseman Trevor Plouffe.
No outs with two on, Gibson walked Eric Sogard to load the bases. Coco Crisp’s three-run triple opened up Oakland’s offense. Crisp scored on a pass ball making it a 4-0 game. Gibson allowed three walks and two hits before forcing the last two batters to pop-out stranding one runner.
“It’s embarrassing to go out there and pitch five innings and walk that many guys,” Gibson said. “It’s unacceptable.”
It was obvious he didn’t learn from the last inning, Gibson walked Reddick to leadoff the sixth, Vogt followed with a single and chased him off the mound. The bullpen came in and forced Fuld to ground out advancing both runners. Sogard’s two-run triple extended the A’s lead 6-0.
“That’s my bad for putting him back out there,” said Gardenhire. “The reason why I did it was because he needed to go back out there after one bad inning, but that didn’t turn out too well either.”
Kazmir lost his command in the seventh when Danny Santana led off the frame with a single followed by a walk to Brain Dozier. Plouffe’s RBI single put a run on the board. Kazmir struck out the next batter but Oswaldo Arcia hit a RBI single giving Minnesota their second run scored.
Parmelee’s two-run double cleared the bases and he advanced to third on a throwing error by left-fielder Brandon Moss. The Twins rallied back by scoring five runs. Eduardo Nunez hit a RBI double cutting the lead to one. But it was Oakland’s bullpen that saved the game.
“They put some really good at-bats together consistently throughout that inning,” manager Bob Melvin said. “So when the inning’s over you know you’re in for a battle.”
Minnesota’s offense was shutdown for the next two innings and Sean Doolittle earned his 18th save, breaking the A’s record for saves by a lefty set by Alan Embree in 2007. The A’s bullpen has 28.2-inning scoreless streak over the last 14 games, an Oakland record.
“That’s one of the things that makes our bullpen so good is the amount of pride and how badly we want to be in situations like (Friday night),” said Doolittle. “When the momentum shifted toward their dugout we were able to come in and finish it out.”