Twins Trump Athletics, 5-4
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Matt Capps came to the mound for Minnesota with the familiar soundtrack of Metallica music and a round of boos.
Nobody at Target Field was cheering louder at the end than his teammates.
Justin Morneau’s tying double in the eighth inning set up Capps for another dramatic save in the ninth, and the Twins rallied past Oakland for a 5-4 victory on Monday, a season-high sixth straight loss for the Athletics.
“There’s not a bigger competitor on this team than Capps, and no one wants to win more. There’s not a better teammate, either. When he has a game like this we’re all cheering for him, and when he has a game like yesterday we all feel for him,” said designated hitter Ryan Doumit, who drove in the go-ahead run off previously perfect reliever Ryan Cook (1-1) with a sacrifice fly after Morneau’s bloop down the line.
Capps bounced back from his first blown attempt of the season the day before — on a two-run homer by Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera — by striking out Jonny Gomes with the bases loaded to notch his 10th save and help the Twins stop their own five-game losing streak.
“I don’t blame people for booing. They expect us to do a job, and I’m no different from the 24 other guys in here,” Capps said.
Don’t assume he feels fine about that, though.
“I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel something. Nobody likes that, especially in their home ballpark,” Capps said, adding: “No matter what the fans think, this organization still expects it out of me, and I’ve got to go out and do it.”
Colin Cowgill reached on a fielding error by second baseman Alexi Casilla, who let a slow roller slide right under his glove to make the inning more challenging for Capps. Jemile Weeks walked with one out. The runners moved up on a line drive by Coco Crisp that Capps dropped but picked up and threw over for the second out. Josh Reddick, who homered and tripled earlier, was intentionally walked to load the bases.
But Capps blew a 94-mph fastball by Gomes to end that at-bat on three pitches.
“We feel comfortable with him on the mound. He’s a guy with guts,” Morneau said, adding about the booing: “It’s disappointing to see that sometimes, but obviously people’s expectations are high, just as ours are.”
Alex Burnett (2-0) gave up an RBI single to Kurt Suzuki in the eighth that put the A’s in front 4-3 after Jeff Gray walked back-to-back batters with one out, but Kila Ka’aihue grounded into a double play, the fourth of the game for the A’s. Then the Twins rallied with rare success against Cook (1-1), who entered the game without a run and just four hits allowed in 23 innings this year.
Joe Mauer hustled for an infield single and stole second base to spark the rally. Josh Willingham followed with a walk and scored on Doumit’s deep-enough fly.
“We definitely wanted to give him an ERA, I guess,” Willingham said.
Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: “Everybody should have stats, and he had none.”
Cook was naturally disappointed.
“You’re going to give up runs in this game. It isn’t a secret to anybody. It’s just unfortunate that I gave them up today,” he said.
Travis Blackley made his first major league start in nearly five years, giving up just one run, three hits and one walk while striking out three in five innings for the A’s. Trevor Plouffe homered in the fifth for the Twins, and Willingham’s double off Jordan Norberto in the sixth following back-to-back walks cut the lead to 3-2.
“For a guy that’s been a one-inning reliever here for the last couple of months, to give us five innings and leave with the lead was tremendous,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Then Morneau tied the game with a sacrifice fly to keep starter Scott Diamond from taking the loss. The lefty struck out four with one walk, nine hits and three runs across in 6 1-3 innings.
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