Michael Cuddyer hugged him. Then Joe Mauer hugged him. Then he paused in front of big Jim Thome who said, if I can read lips, "Get in here, there ya go".
That was unexpected. Brian Duensing out-dueled Trevor Cahill. Brian has pitched well, and better than I'd have expected if I'm honest, but he out-pitched Trevor Cahill.
Oakland managed a hit in each of the first three innings. A double play in the first, a pickoff of Rajai Davis in the second and another double play in the third erased all of them, and the A's wouldn't get another hit. I'll say it again so it sinks in: the A's didn't get a single base hit after the third inning. Kurt Suzuki's second walk of the game, in the seventh, constituted the entirety of the Athletics' base runners from the fourth frame on.
Duesning threw five sinking fastballs in the fifth to retire the side, and after that he was more aggressive and forced the A's to swing the bats. But in the first few innings he mixed his pitches and his pitch speeds very well, and it kept the Oakland batters off balance.
The A's made good contact from time to time, scorching a grounder here and turning on one for a hard liner, but Duesning's defense made the plays. It's a terrible cliche', but it was true last night. Nobody screwed anything up, which is a massive improvement over the performance Carl Pavano received on Friday night.
For his part, Cahill was largely as advertised. He struck out five and walked one over seven innings, allowing six hits. With two men on and one out in the first he struck out Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer to end the threat. He erased back-to-back singles by Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer to start the sixth with a double play. In fact, the first inning was the only time he faced more than four batters.
But the Twins did get their run. Alexi Casilla doubled to lead off the inning, Denard Span moved him over with a good bunt and Hudson scored him with a sacrifice fly. 1-0, Twins.
When Crain Breslow relieved Cahill for the eighth, Span went the other way and kicked off the frame with a double. Hudson wasn't able to get the ball to the right side, rolling over on a Breslow fastball to short, but Span gambled and tried to advance anyway. A's shortstop Steve Tolleson (remember that name anybody?) went for Span at third, and it was a close play that resulted in Span being called safe. It would be argued, but it was the right call for two reasons.
- Kevin Kouzmanoff never actually tagged Span. His glove slid under Denard's right arm.
- Even if he had tagged him, Span's hand was already on the bag...until Kouzmanoff tried to push it off the bag.
Mauer then took a slider in the dirt before putting a charge into the next one. He missed his eighth homer of the season by just a few feet, the ball bouncing off the base of the wall to score Span easily. 2-0, Twins, and that's how it ended.
Nobody will pretend that the Oakland offense is dangerous on paper, but Duensing made sure they were silent on the field as well. Also, my dad made his first appearance at Target Field last night as my brother took him and my mom there for my dad's birthday. My dad must now attend every Twins home game for the rest of the season. I'm sure the daily four-hour drive won't get in the way.
Notes, studs and duds after the jump.
- Have you heard of this Joe Mauer guy? He was 3-for-4 last night, and is now hitting .328/.400/.485.
- Oh yeah, he's also batting ..452/.538/.619 in August. BUT HE'S HURT OMG, I CAN JUST TELL BECAUSE NOBODY IS DENYING IT. IF HE WAS HEALTHY EVERYONE SHOULD SAY SO.
- In five starts, Duensing is 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 33.1 innings.
- In his Major League career, hitters are batting just .179 off Duensing's slider.
- Just 51% of Duensing's fastballs to right-handed hitters were strikes (27 of 53).
- Just 53% of Duensing's pitches to right-handed hitters were strikes (37 of 70).
- While 76% of Duensing's pitches to right-handers were fastballs, just 50% were fastballs to left-handers. 47% of his pitches to left-handers were breaking balls.
- In spite of a lot of hard-hit balls against him, Cahill's on-base average against was just .269 last night.
- I imagine the Oakland fanbase must be confused a bit by the performance of Rajai Davis this year. After hitting .305 last season with a .360 on-base percentage, he's batting just .278 with a .316 on-base percentage this season. It hasn't stopped him from stealing bases, of course. But that pickoff last night reminded me of Denard Span.
Jason Kubel: 0-for-4, -.172 WPA
Michael Cudder: 0-for-3, -.077 WPA
Jim Thome: 0-for-3, -.074 WPA
Delmon Young: 0-for-3, -.067 WPA