Phil Hughes is at his best when he can work his fastball up in the zone successfully and when he has an umpire who's willing to give him an inch on the black of the plate. Hughes had both of those in spades on Monday, getting three strikeouts looking and getting a couple of strikes that, while close, could have gone either way. You can argue that Hughes maybe didn't deserve a couple of those strikes, but they were still too close for players not to swing.
Brian Dozier's first inning homer gives him 20 on the season, cracking the 20-homer plateau for the first time since Josh Willingham (35) and Trevor Plouffe (24) did so in 2012. Hughes surrendered the tying run in the bottom of the first but stranded runners on the corners.
After that, Hughes and Jason Hammel rewarded fans with a few boring innings. Both clubs put two runners on in the fifth but couldn't break the tie, so it was only when Hammel had issues with command in the seventh when he was lifted for Fernando Abad. With runners on the corners and one away, Eduardo Nunez (who had singled, stolen second, and then advanced to third on a wild pitch) was hung out to dry when Jordan Schafer missed on a bunt attempt. The squeeze had been on, and Nunez was a sitting duck between third and home. The A's did what they were supposed to do, and then Schafer swung out on the following pitch to end the threat.
Minnesota finally broke through versus Luke Gregerson in the eighth. Danny Santana singled, stolen second, and - this may sound familiar - advanced to third on a wild pitch. But this time the Twins converted. Kurt Suzuki doubled off the top of the wall in left-center field to give the Twins a 2-1 lead, and two batters later Josh Willingham crushed a no-doubt bomb into the left field seats.
Leading 4-1, Casey Fien had runners on first and third with one out when he struck out Brandon Moss on a nice slider. Stephen Vogt was aggressive and swung on the first pitch he saw, lining out to Santana in center and holding Minnesota's three-run lead.
Suzuki punished his former team one more time in the ninth with a bases-loaded single, and Kennys Vargas drew a bases loaded walk to bring home a run and push us to the final score. Glen Perkins pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation, and the Twins saved themselves from a sweep and put an end to their 12-game losing streak to the A's.
NO DUDS, TWINS WIN but Schafer, you came close