(OAKLAND) -- If ever the Oakland Athletics need to get greedy, now is the time.
Coming off a series win at home against the hot Tampa Bay Rays this week—the A's won on Monday and Tuesday night before losing Wednesday—the team really could use a four-game sweep of the struggling Minnesota Twins, starting tonight at the O.co Coliseum.
A few reasons, to start: first, the Twins (51-61) are in last place in the American League Central, and this year, the A's are a mere 12-10 against the "worst" division in the league; and second, Oakland leads the Los Angeles Angels by just two games in the AL West, and it would be nice to start putting some distance between the two squads.
At 69-44, the A's have the best record in the major leagues, still, as they have every day since June 18. Also, Oakland has been in sole possession of first place in the division for 97 straight days now (April 28). But they've slumped a bit lately, posting just a 10-8 record since the All-Star Game.
What the A's do have going for them tonight is two-fold: Jon Lester and a nine-game winning streak against the Twins.
Lester (11-7, 2.59 ERA overall) won his Oakland debut last Saturday, albeit with a less-dominant showing than he had been posting with the Boston Red Sox lately. But it was his ninth straight "quality start", and Lester has been pretty darn good in that stretch: his 1.38 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in those nine starts are excellent numbers.
The A's would love some more of the same against Minnesota at the Coliseum this evening, as they have not lost to the Twins in some time. In this nine-game winning streak against Minnesota, Oakland has outscored the Twins by a combined 86-27 score.
Minnesota sends 30-year-old rookie Yohan Pino (1-3, 4.57) to the mound to face the A's, who still lead the majors in runs scored (554) despite the mini-slump of the last 18 games since sending seven All-Stars to Target Field in Minneapolis for the Midsummer Classic.
So with those two nine-game streaks on the line for both Lester and his Oakland teammates, the fans in attendance are hoping for a good night—beyond the Josh Donaldson t-shirts the first 10,000 of them through the turnstiles will get at the Coliseum.
Game time is 7:05 p.m.