A's give Anderson the ball to face Twins

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A's give Anderson the ball to face Twins

April 8, 2011

A's (2-4) vs.
MINNESOTA (2-4)

Coverage begins at 1 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The biggest offseason addition for the Minnesota Twins was second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Unfortunately, the Japanese import won't be available in their first game at Target Field.

The injured Nishioka will miss the home opener Friday when the Twins and Oakland Athletics start a three-game series.

Nishioka broke his left fibula when Nick Swisher slid into him while breaking up a double play in a 4-3 loss to the Yankees on Thursday.

NEWS: MLB headlines

The Twins (2-4) said they believed the play was clean, and Swisher sought out Nishioka in the X-ray room after the game to apologize. Nishioka was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and he will be examined Friday.

"It was a good play, breaking up the double play," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Not even an issue."

Matt Tolbert replaced Nishioka, who had five hits in 24 at-bats during the six-game, season-opening trip.

The Twins saw their home run production drop by 30 in 2010 after the opening of Target Field. They might be able to go deep more often now that 14 black spruce trees have been removed from the batter's eye area.

NEWS: Spotlight on the Minnesota Twins

Last season, players complained the trees affected sight lines as they swayed in the wind and interfered with the batter's ability to lock in on pitches. Still, Minnesota went an AL-best 53-28 at home.

"I honestly hope it plays about the same because we won games, and I kind of like winning games at home," Gardenhire told the Twins' official website.

The fans almost surely will give Justin Morneau a huge welcome in his first home game since July 4. Morneau hit four of his 18 homers last year at Target Field before suffering a concussion July 7 at Toronto that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Power was also a concern for Oakland (2-4) after managing 109 homers for the second-worst total in the AL in 2010. The Twins and A's are among a group of teams tied for the lowest mark this season with two.

Joe Mauer will be behind the plate Friday for Minnesota, although Gardenhire usually prefers that backup Drew Butera catch Carl Pavano (0-1, 15.75 ERA). The Twins' opening day starter was scheduled to start Thursday in New York, but was pushed back after a rainout Wednesday.

"Last year, it so happened I had great success with Drew," Pavano said. "I've also had a lot of success with Joe, so we'll see where it falls this year."

Pavano took advantage of Target Field to go 6-1 with a 3.34 ERA in his last nine home starts in 2010. He is trying to recover after giving up eight runs over four-plus innings in last Friday's 13-3 loss at Toronto.

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts against the Athletics. Oakland newcomer David DeJesus is 11 for 26 against him.

It's unclear if second baseman Mark Ellis will be in the lineup after he didn't start Thursday's 2-1 win at Toronto because of an inner-ear problem and dizziness. Ellis entered the game in the eighth inning and singled in the ninth, but the A's are not sure if he will be on the team flight to Minnesota.

REWIND: A's salvage a game in Toronto, 2-1

The A's went 2-4 at Target Field last season.

Brett Anderson (0-0, 1.50) had one of the victories, and is 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts against the Twins. The left-hander gave up one run over six innings Saturday in a 5-2 home loss to Seattle.

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

Giants get blanked by Braves, now have lowest-scoring team in majors

SAN FRANCISCO — Over in Cleveland earlier Friday, Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer for the visiting team and five other players chipped in a pair of hits. The Royals had six runs, which meant that when Jim Johnson closed the Giants out a few hours later, what has seemed true all season became officially true. The Giants have the lowest-scoring lineup in the majors.

At 3.32 runs per game, they have dipped below the equally-disappointing Royals (3.38). They are capable at the moment of making any pitching staff look dominant. A 2-0 shutout was the first of the year for the Braves, who previously had just two games this season where they allowed fewer than two runs. 

“Six runs in (the last) four games … I thought we would come home and get some rips in tonight, but it didn’t happen,” Bruce Bochy said. 

The manager’s frustration showed late in this one. After the only rally of the game — a two-run single by opposing pitcher Jaime Garcia — Bochy took his cap off and rubbed his forehead. He dipped his head and briefly stood as if he was going to fall asleep on the rail. The bats were equally still. 

The Giants had just four hits, all of them singles against Garcia, who is a nice pitcher but hardly one of the league’s best. One was an infield single by Eduardo Nuñez, another a single through Garcia’s five-hole, and a third a generous ruling by the official scorekeeper. 

“It comes down to, you’ve got to get some hits and create opportunities, and we’re not doing it very often,” Bochy said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting somewhat hot. We did, we had some success, and we won some games. The thing you like to see is some good cuts and I didn’t think we got enough of those tonight.”

That run, which spanned the last homestand and small parts of two road trips, has come to a screeching halt. The Giants have lost five of six. It seems silly to scoreboard-watch in May, especially when a team is playing like this, but it’s worth noting that the teams the Giants eventually need to catch keep winning. They fell 12 games back of the Rockies and 11 back of the streaking Diamondbacks. They are 9 1/2 back of the Dodgers, who might be the best team in the whole league. 

Matt Cain did his part to allow the Giants to keep pace. He got beat just once in seven sharp innings. The Giants intentionally walked Dansby Swanson to get to Garcia, who bounced a single into left. Brandon Belt had a play at the plate, but his throw was short and hit the runner. A second run scored. 

“That’s tough,” Cain said. “(Garcia) was throwing the ball really good and that’s what it comes down to, you’re looking for that one hit and he did it. He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen it in St. Louis. But it definitely is tough when the pitcher does that … it just stinks on my part to give up a hit to the opposing pitcher.”

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

Lowrie's big hit sparks A's, gets road trip started right

NEW YORK — Jed Lowrie is the counterpoint to the A’s home run-crazed offensive attack.

Sure, the A’s switch-hitting second baseman can muscle up and clear the fence. But Lowrie’s approach is more about spraying base hits all around and using the whole field. He was at it again in Friday’s 4-1 A’s victory over the Yankees, going 3-for-4 and delivering an RBI single that snapped a scoreless tie in the eighth.

“I always have to carry his glove out to second for him because he’s always on base,” shortstop Adam Rosales said. “He looks really good at the plate right now, and he’s kind of just putting us on his back. It’s contagious to see a guy like that doing so well.”

Lowrie bumped his average up to .310 with Friday’s game. Until he grounded out in the sixth, he’d notched hits in seven consecutive at-bats dating back to Tuesday night. That streak fell one shy of the A’s record for most consecutive hits. Three players share the record at eight — Josh Reddick (in 2016), Dave Magadan (1997) and Brent Gates (1994).

“It’s all about the work,” said Lowrie, whose 15 doubles are tied for third in the AL. “Everything comes together when you’re seeing it well. I’m seeing it well but the approach hasn’t changed.”

With two runners aboard and two out in the eighth, Lowrie punched an RBI single to right off Tyler Clippard for the game’s first run. It was the breakthrough the A’s needed after they’d struck out 13 times in seven innings against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. Khris Davis followed Lowrie’s hit by beating out an infield single to score another run. Then Stephen Vogt added a two-run homer in top of the ninth to make it 4-0, and that provided some cushion as closer Santiago Casilla gave up a run and made things tenser than they should have been in the bottom half.

Davis, the most fearsome hitter in Oakland’s lineup, is thrilled to have a productive Lowrie batting in front of him as the No. 3 man.

“Somebody’s gotta hit .300,” Davis said. “All year he’s been our most consistent hitter and best hitter. I hope he keeps going.”

The A’s have won four in a row at Yankee Stadium dating back to last year. It’s their longest winning streak in the Bronx since a four-gamer at the old stadium in 2006. And it was a good way to begin a seven-game road trip for the A’s, who came in with the league’s worst road record at 6-15.

**

Rosales had puffiness under his right eye and said he was anticipating a shiner after his hard head-first dive into third base didn’t go as planned in the eighth. He scraped up his face pretty good after going first to third on an errant pickoff throw and taking a hard dive into third, only to find the dirt wasn’t giving.

After addressing reporters, Rosales said he was on his way to find an ice pack.