Pratt's Instant Replay: A's 6, Twins 3

July 14, 2012, 3:04 am
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The A's got a little extra time off after rain delayed the start of the game by 20 minutes. The weather cost the A's an opportunity to take batting practice on the field before the game. As a result it took the A's bats a little extra time to get back into the swing of things. Better late than never for the A's, who rallied for four runs in the fourth and two more in the ninth, beating the Twins 6-3. They are now 44-43, one game over .500.At the PlateThe first time through the order Francisco Liriano carved up A's batters. Eight of the first nine batters he faced were retired via strikeout.The second time though the lineup the A's made amends. Jemile Weeks reached base on a leadoff single. Later in the inning the A's were gifted a baserunner, when Denard Span snowconed and dropped a routine flyball hit to center field by Yoenis Cespedes. Chris Carter worked the count full against Liriano and drew a one out walk to load the bases. Then Jonny Gomes drove the first pitch from Liriano to left-center field for his third-career grand slam.That is all the A's would score against Liriano. He ended the night with a career-high 15 strikeouts. After Liriano left the game, the A's rallied for two more runs. Gomes drove in his fifth run with an RBI-single. The last time he drove in five runs was August 14, 2009 as a member of the Reds. Brandon Inge also drove in a run in the eighth.Yoenis Cespedes started the game as the DH after spraining his left thumb on Sunday. He went 2 for 3, reaching on an error and scoring a run.Starting Pitching ReportA.J. Griffin allowed more than two runs for the first time in his MLB career. On Friday, all three of his earned runs were came as a result of former A's outfielder Josh Willingham.He homered against Griffin to start the second inning. Then hit a two-run blast off him in the fourth. That means Willingham has hit four homers against the A's this season, driving in 10 runs.This offseason Willingham left the A's for Minnesota when he was signed to a three-year, 21M contract. For sake of comparison, Coco Crisp was signed to a two-year, 14M contract. Imagine an outfield of Reddick, Cespedes and Willingham in Oakland.Bullpen ReportGriffin turned the game over to the the bullpen in the seventh inning with a one run lead. Sean Doolittle entered the game in relief. He retired the side in order striking out two hitters in the seventh. He came back out for the eighth inning and retired the first two hitters before allowing a walk to Willingham and a double to Morneau.With runners on second and third base and two outs Balfour entered the game to face Trevor Plouffe in what was undoubtedly the most important at-bat in the game. Balfour engaged in an eight-pitch at-bat that felt like a 12-round prize fight. Plouffe landed a solid blow, but Balfour was the last man standing, as Weeks snared the liner off the outfielders bat to end the inning.Last time the A's were in Minnesota they were swept. In the second game of the series Brian Fuentes blew a save on a walk-off three-run homer hit by Willingham. This time they have a new closer in Ryan Cook. The rookie All-Star pitcher retired the Twins in order for his ninth save.In the FieldBrandon Hicks made a solid play to end the third inning. He leaped up snaring a liner hit by Ben Revere at the height of his jump, then fired to first to double off Denard Span. Derek Norris gunned down Trevor Plouffe stealing second in the fourth inning. Plouffe reached on an error by Hicks. Griffin also caught Span stealing in the first inning.Up NextTommy Milone (8-6, 3.57 ERA) takes the mound for the A's on Saturday. Milone struck out a career-high nine hitters in his last start. That start came at home against the Mariners, where he gave up one run over seven innings of work. Cole De Vries (2-1, 3.00 ERA) will get the start for the Twins. De Vries' last start was in Texas against the Rangers. He pitched seven shutout innings but didn't factor in the decision.