The Oakland Athletics crushed the Minnesota Twins by a final score of 11-0 Friday night in front of a sellout crowd at O.co Coliseum, and their magic number to clinch the American League West is now down to two games, with the division title possibly coming as early as tomorrow evening should the Rangers lose and the A’s win.
The A’s took advantage of three Minnesota errors to score five unearned runs in the second matchup of a four-game series, and the Twins stood little chance with Bartolo Colon pitching the way he was.
The 40-year-old right-hander was in top form, throwing 94 pitches over six innings and striking out eight of the 24 batters he faced. He walked only one, with the Twins mustering five hits off of him as Colon became only the 11th starting pitcher in Major League history to win 17 games in a season after turning 40.
Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson went deep for the A’s, and the club improved their record in the month of August to 14-5 in the month of August.
Colon allowed three Twins on base in his first two innings on the mound, but he struck out four over that time and had was locating his fastball without issue.
The A’s hitters gave him a 3-0 advantage to work with after the bottom of the second, when Cespedes knocked in his 25th home run of the year off of Twins starter Andrew Albers, and two more scored thanks to a couple errors in right field by Oswaldo Arcia.
The drive by Cespedes came on a sinker around the knees, and he drove it deep into the stands in left-center to give Oakland a 1-0 lead. Derek Norris then hit a line drive straight at Arcia in right, but the outfielder lost the ball in the stadium lights, and it flew past him to allow Norris to reach to reach second.
Chris Young and Alberto Callaspo were retired, and it looked like Albers would get out of the inning when Josh Reddick’s grounder was fielded by a diving Brian Dozier at second. Instead, Dozier stumbled just a touch, and Reddick legged out the throw as Norris crossed home plate to put Oakland ahead 2-0.
In the next at-bat, Daric Barton ripped what should have been a base hit down the right field line, but Arcia recorded his second error of the inning when the ball slipped under his glove, and Barton got all the way to third as Reddick scored to put the A’s up 3-0.
They’d put another run on the board in the fourth thanks to Minnesota’s second error of the game. Norris led off with a single, and on an attempt to steal second, Twins catcher Chris Hermann threw wide of second base to allow Norris to go to third on the play. A moment later Callaspo drove him in with a single to left, and that made it 4-0 before Albers got the final two outs of the frame.
Colon got his seventh strikeout of the day in the fifth in a three-up, three-down inning, and Oakland broke the game open in their turn at the plate thanks to more defensive woes for the Twins. Donaldson got on base with a one-out walk, and Jed Lowrie singled in the next at-bat to put two men on for Cespedes.
The designated hitter popped out to Eduardo Escobar at third, but Albers hit Norris to load the bases and keep the rally going. When Escobar corralled a grounder by Chris Young with a diving stop along the third baseline, it looked like the A’s would leave them stranded, but his throw to first was bounced wide of the Chris Parmelee’s glove, and with the expansive foul territory at the Coliseum it rolled far enough to allow all three runners to score to put Oakland up 7-0.
That’d be it for Albers, and right-hander Ryan Pressly was brought in out of the bullpen to finish out the inning with Young at second base. Callaspo had other ideas, getting his second RBI of the night on a single to right to make it 8-0. Reddick singled to move him over to third, and with Daric Barton batting Pressly threw a wild pitch to allow Callaspo to steal home and give the A’s a 9-0 lead.
Two more runs came in on a home run by Donaldson in the bottom of the sixth, putting the A’s up 11-0 and giving the third basemen his 54th multi-hit game of the season, good for fourth-most in Oakland history behind Jose Canseco (55) and leaders Mark Kotsay and Miguel Tejada (t-57).
Tommy Milone came in to start off the seventh, and he’d strike out three over the next two innings, and Evan Scribner closed out the game in the ninth, striking out the final batter to put the A’s seven and a half games ahead of the Rangers — their largest lead in the AL West since 2006 — and inch that much closer to securing their second straight division title.
Jarrod Parker takes the mound for the A’s in tomorrow’s day game against southpaw Pedro Hernandez for the Twins.