Held down for most of the day by Twins starter Ricky Nolasco, the A’s broke through with the clutch hits that were missing over the weekend at the Coliseum.
Oakland scored all three of its runs in the seventh inning to key a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the opener of a three-game series Monday at Target Field. That made a deserving winner of Kendall Graveman (4-6), who gave up just one run over 6 2/3 innings in one of his sharpest outings of the season.
Stephen Vogt drove in the tying run with an RBI single to left and Coco Crisp singled home the go-ahead runs in the seventh as the A’s wiped away a 1-0 deficit. Until then, the A’s had mustered just two hits over the first six innings off Nolasco (3-7) and hadn’t advanced a runner past first base.
The A’s brought a four-game losing streak into Monday and were coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In that series, the A’s struggled offensively, and Sunday’s loss in particular was marked by missed opportunities with runners in scoring position. But they rebounded in the opener of a series against a Twins team that carries the worst record in the majors at 27-55.
Starting pitching report:
Graveman has now looked very solid in three of his past four outings. He held the Twins in check all day Monday and worked around the four walks he issued. Two of those free passes came in the fourth, when Minnesota scored its only run to command a 1-0 lead. But even in that rally, Graveman got the ground ball he was looking for with the bases loaded. The speedy Max Kepler beat the throw to first and the Twins got a run. Graveman struck out three and allowed just three hits.
Runners on base in the bottom of the seventh meant it was Ryan Dull time. The right-hander entered in relief of Graveman with two outs and two on, and he retired Eduardo Nunez on a force play up the middle. Dull has now stranded all 36 of his inherited runners on the season, a major league record for most consecutive inherited runners stranded to begin a season. Ryan Madson put two runners aboard in the ninth but rang up his 16th save.
At the plate:
It was Danny Valencia, mired in a 2-for-27 slump, who ignited the game’s decisive rally in the seventh. He hammered a fastball to right-center for a leadoff double. Then a key play unfolded as Khris Davis hit a soft grounder toward short and Valencia gambled and broke for third. He was originally called out on the tag at third, but the call was overturned on a replay review and the A’s were in business. Vogt’s RBI single tied the game, and the score was still 1-1 with the bases loaded and two outs, when Crisp lined a two-run single up the middle to give the A’s the lead.
In the field:
Marcus Semien made a nice play on the grounder Dull induced in the seventh, corralling the ball up the middle and flipping to Jed Lowrie for the force at second to strand two runners.
Former Athletic Tommy Milone (0-2, 6.23) takes the mound Tuesday against Oakland. He faced them once last season and lasted just 2 2/3 innings, as the A’s homered three times off him. Sean Manaea (3-4, 5.40) goes for the A’s. First pitch is 5:10 p.m.