MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gio Gonzalez pitched six sharp innings and the Athletics’ offense was just a little less futile than Minnesota’s in Oakland’s 1-0 victory over the Twins on Saturday night.
Gonzalez (2-0) allowed four hits with four strikeouts and two walks, which allowed the A’s to overcome stranding 11 runners on base. Brian Fuentes earned his second save of the season with 1 2-3 innings of scoreless relief.
Nick Blackburn (1-1) allowed an unearned run on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts in six innings for the Twins, who continue to struggle with the bats.
The top four hitters in Minnesota’s lineup went a combined 1 for 15 with a single and a walk. Minnesota has scored just 21 runs in its first eight games this season.
The Twins entered the night with the second-fewest runs in the AL, while the Athletics were just two runs ahead of them.
Fittingly, the only run of the game came when Kurt Suzuki scored on a throwing error by Twins shortstop Alexi Casilla in the sixth inning, which means no RBI was awarded in the game.
With both teams struggling to score early in the season, the hitters seemed to be squeezing the bat a little tighter on a chilly night at Target Field.
The Athletics were a little aggressive early trying to get something going, and it cost them. Daric Barton tried to score from second base on a sharply hit single to left field by Josh Willingham, but Delmon Young’s throw beat Barton to the plate by 5 feet to end the inning.
In the fifth, David DeJesus popped up to center field on a 3-0 pitch to end the inning, another sign that the A’s might be pressing a little bit early in the season.
The Twins haven’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut themselves, and they struggled again to generate much against another A’s lefty. Brett Anderson shut them down for seven innings Friday before the Twins scored two in the eighth to squeak out a 2-1 win.
Gonzalez had them on ice Saturday night as well. The Twins hit just two balls out of the infield in the first four innings before leading off the fifth with singles by Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes to give them runners at the corners with nobody out.
But Gonzalez refocused, getting Casilla to ground out to the pitcher, Denard Span to pop out to shortstop and Joe Mauer to ground out to second base to escape unscathed. Mauer is hitting .231 this season, Justin Morneau is at .185 and Young is hitting .179.
The Athletics took a 1-0 lead in the sixth when Suzuki singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch, then scored when Casilla bounced a throw in front of Morneau at first base on a grounder by Mark Ellis.
NOTES: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire received his AL Manager of the Year award in a brief pregame ceremony. Gardenhire finished second in the voting five times before finally winning last year. … A’s manager Bob Geren said RHP Rich Harden, on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle under his right shoulder, will throw to hitters on Monday. … The Twins placed RHP Kevin Slowey on the 15-day disabled list with bursitis in his throwing shoulder.
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