Fri, 08 Dec 2023

A's try to avoid more futility on visit to Twins

Field Level Media
26 Sep 2023, 11:19 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

The Oakland Athletics head into their final road trip of the season, starting on Tuesday night in Minneapolis against the American League Central champion Minnesota Twins, with a couple of records well within their grasp.

On the positive side of things, outfielder Esteury Ruiz, who leads the AL with 65 stolen bases, needs to swipe just one more to tie the AL rookie stolen base record set by Kenny Lofton in 1992 with the Cleveland Indians.

On the negative side of things, Oakland (48-108) is just one defeat away from setting a record for most losses in a season since the team moved to the Bay Area in 1968. The 1979 A's also lost 108 games (54-108).

The good news? The A's don't have enough games left to break the franchise mark of 117 losses in a season set by Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics (36-117) in 1916.

Oakland, which has dropped nine of its last 11 games, has already made history with back-to-back 100-loss seasons for the first time since the franchise moved from Kansas City.

Ruiz is the first A's player to hit the 60-stolen-base mark since Rickey Henderson, the all-time major league leader with 1,406 stolen bases, had 66 in 1998.

"It's a great accomplishment for him as an individual," Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. "The success he's had his first year in the big leagues, he accomplished something that hasn't been done in this organization in a long time and done by a Hall of Fame player in Rickey Henderson."

The A's haven't announced their starters for the three-game series. If Kotsay stays with his normal rotation, right-hander Paul Blackburn (4-6, 4.11 ERA), who has never faced the Twins and has a 3.10 ERA over his last 11 starts, will get the nod in Tuesday's opener.

Minnesota (83-73), which clinched its third AL Central title in five seasons with an 8-6 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Friday night, will start 6-foot-9 right-hander Bailey Ober (7-6, 3.66) in the opener. Ober has never faced Oakland in his 55 previous big-league starts and is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two September starts this season.

It's the start of the final home series of the regular season for the Twins, who will likely host the No. 6 seed in the wild-card round on Oct. 3-5. Minnesota ends the regular season with a three-game series at Colorado.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said he will use the final week of the season to get his team reset and rested while also getting his pitching staff aligned for the playoffs. All-Stars Pablo Lopez (11-8, 3.61) and Sonny Gray (8-8, 2.80), who Baldelli announced Sunday would be his starters in the first two playoff games, will start the final two games of the series against the A's.

"Pablo and Sonny are going to throw the first two games for us in the playoffs," Baldelli said before a series-clinching, 9-3 win over the Angels on Sunday afternoon. "I don't think there is any reason not to say that. I think it's pretty obvious one way or another. Every single thing beyond that, all those things, we're evaluating all those things still. We have to. There is no way around it."

--Field Level Media

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