The Oakland Athletics try to beat the Minnesota Twins for the 10th straight time on Thursday when they welcome them to O.co Coliseum for the start of a four-game series.
Oakland outscored the Twins by a 21-8 margin in sweeping them back in April and has won 14 of 16 in the series. The A's have also managed 7.8 runs-per- game in winning the last nine from them.
Newly-acquired hurler Jon Lester would certainly appreciate that type of support, as he tries to make it two straight wins in an A's uniform. Lester won his first start for Oakland on Saturday, as he held the Kansas City Royals to three runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings to run his overall record to 10-7 to go along with a 2.59 ERA.
"We get so amped up for our first of everything, whether it's your first start, first postseason start, whatever it is," said Lester, who was acquired from Boston at the trade deadline for slugger Yoenis Cespedes. "Now it's just getting back to work and the job at hand and getting used to my surroundings. You want to put a good foot forward, so I'm glad today went the way it did, and I'll go back out there in five days and do it again."
Lester has faced the Twins 10 times (9 starts) and is just 2-4 against them with a 4.41 ERA.
Oakland was denied a sweep in its series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, as it dropped a 7-3 decision.
Sonny Gray (12-5) was roughed up for season highs of seven runs -- six earned -- and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings on the hill.
Josh Reddick had two RBI and Eric Sogard cracked his first homer of the season in the setback.
"It was just one of those days," said Reddick. "Everyone is going to have their off days and (Gray) had it. Our lineup continued to struggle."
The A's, though, did not lose any ground in the AL West, as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lost to the Dodgers. Oakland leads the division by two games over the Halos.
Minnesota, meanwhile, also failed to complete a sweep on Wednesday and fell to the San Diego Padres, 5-4, in 10 innings. The Twins seemed on their way to finishing off the sweep, but closer Glen Perkins blew a ninth-inning lead, before Seth Smith's solo home run won it for the Padres.
"Closers make it interesting. They always do," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Glen is as good as they are. He's a good one. Today he left a couple pitches up. We shouldn't have been in that situation. We should have scored a lot more runs."
Getting the call for the Twins on Thursday will be righty Yohan Pino, who is 1-3 with a 4.57 ERA. Pino did not get a decision on Saturday in Chicago, but did not pitch well, as the White Sox tagged him for four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings of his team's 8-6 win.
"I don't change anything," Pino said. "Just what I've been doing. Just the same plan. Throw strikes, work the counts."