There wasn’t a whole lot of encouragement for the A’s to find in Wednesday night’s 13-0 thrashing at the hands of the Twins.
Scott Kazmir didn’t deliver the start his team needed. The hitters couldn’t chip their way back into it when given the chance, and the bullpen couldn’t keep the game from getting way out of hand in the late going.
Given those scenarios, it’s best for the A’s to turn the page on this one. Which brings us to this: Can Oakland win Thursday, split this four-game series and put a positive spin on their stay in the Twin Cities?
The A’s are 1-7 in the final game of a series. And while that’s a hard stat to wrap your arms around and find an explanation for, it’s an important stat. Five times so far, the A’s have entered a series finale needing a win to capture the series, only to come up with an ‘L.’ That’s five lost opportunities to build momentum, both in the standings and within their own collective psyche.
After Kazmir faltered Wednesday, giving up six runs over six innings to take his first loss of the season, the responsibility shifts to fellow lefty Drew Pomeranz to get the A’s off to a good start in Thursday’s 10:10 a.m. (PT) game.
Oakland will do it without outfielder Coco Crisp in the lineup, as manager Bob Melvin said after Wednesday’s game that Crisp would get a scheduled day off Thursday. The A’s want to be careful with Crisp as he eases his way back into action after missing the first 28 games following elbow surgery.
He took an 0-for-4 from the lead-off spot Wednesday, and it was a reminder that the veteran switch hitter will probably need a little time to adjust back to facing major league pitching. Crisp got just 15 at-bats in spring training due to his elbow injury, and a two-game rehab assignment against Single-A pitching is not going to get him up to speed. Look for Sam Fuld to probably draw a start in left field against Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco.
In other A’s related notes …
--Closer Sean Doolittle will indeed face hitters for the first time Friday, Melvin confirmed to reporters. To this point, Doolittle’s recovery from a slightly torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder has been excellent. He’s bouncing back well following his throwing sessions, and that’s given the A’s confidence to accelerate his return just a bit.
Doolittle originally was scheduled to throw one more regular bullpen session before facing hitters. But if all goes well Friday, it figures that a minor league rehab assignment will follow shortly after. Needless to say, his return can’t come soon enough for the A’s bullpen, which owns an American League-worst 5.44 ERA.
--Making his second start for Triple-A Nashville, Kendall Graveman threw seven shutout innings and allowed just four hits in the Sounds’ 6-0 victory over Iowa. It’s all about restoring confidence for the right-hander, and if he regains his form, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Graveman get another crack in the A’s rotation sometime down the road in 2015.