(OAKLAND) -- The Oakland Athletics have won 11 straight games against the Minnesota Twins, and they have to like their chances to make it an even dozen tonight at the O.co Coliseum with their Shark on the mound.
Jeff Samardzija is 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA since joining the A's in early July, and the Twins counter tonight with rookie Trevor May—making his major-league debut against the high-scoring team (563 runs) in baseball, a team which also has the best home record (39-20) in the majors as well.
Tough task for a kid—or any pitcher, of course.
So on Tony LaRussa Night at the Coliseum—20,000 fans will receive Hall of Fame bobbleheads featuring the A's former manager—Oakland looks fit to keep their win streak against the Twins intact.
But this is baseball, so you never know. One week ago, many experts were lamenting the Athletics' offensive slump that probably emanated more from the Texas heat on a road trip through Arlington and Houston the previous week.
Never fear: under Manager Bob Melvin, the A's don't stay down for long. The team has the best record in baseball since Melvin was hired in mid-2011, and you only achieve that benchmark by being very resilient. And we all know this Oakland team is resilient: they've proven it time and time again in the last three seasons.
This year, more than any other under Melvin, the A's are proving their mettle. They have the best record in the game (71-44), and their scoring differential (+168) is more than double the next-best team in the majors. And while Oakland has been consistent in its winning way, the Los Angeles Angels finally may be cooling off after a hot stretch that brought them to within a game of the A's in the American League West division race recently.
But the lead is back up to four games, and Oakland would like to keep expanding the division lead as much as possible since the Angels have lost six of their last ten.
The Twins, of course, are struggling. Catcher Joe Mauer is injured, and Minnesota is 12 games out of first place in the AL Central division. The Twins won this division six times in a nine-year stretch (2002-10), but they haven't finished better than 22 games out since then.
Perfect opportunity for the A's to step on the gas pedal, of course.
Samardzija's big problem in Oakland so far has been allowing home runs: he gave up just seven home runs in 108 innings with the Chicago Cubs this year before being acquired by the A's. But with his new team, the Shark has coughed up six dingers in just 43.2 innings.
He actually has given up a home run in every Oakland start except the first one.
So the big righty will look tonight, in the cool air, to keep the ball inside the park against a Twins lineup that has hit the sixth-lowest total of home runs in the majors this year (86).
Game time is 6:05 p.m. tonight.