Oakland spoils Twins' home opener

Patience at the plate helps A's top Minnesota

Published: April 7 2014 | 9:42 pm - Updated: 8 April 2014 | 8:08 am in

MINNEAPOLIS -- There was an old scoreboard graphic back at the Metrodome, the former home of the Minnesota Twins, that used to taunt opposing pitchers prone to base on balls with a picture of a ghost and the words "Walks Will Haunt" next to it.

On Monday against the Oakland Athletics, Twins pitcher Kevin Correia was plenty spooked.

The A's drew a leadoff walk in the second inning and a one-out walk in the third to spark rallies, and Oakland won 8-3 in front of 35,837 at Target Field, spoiling the Twins' home opener.

"That's what we do," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We'll make pitchers work, make them throw some pitches, get some guys on base and look for a good ball in a good count. Offensively, when we're playing our best, that's kind of the way it works for us."

Oakland left-hander Scott Kazmir (2-0) worked through back stiffness and a shaky couple of innings early on to get through six innings, striking out five and allowing three runs.

A's first baseman Brandon Moss led off the top of the second with a walk, and he scored on a double by left fielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Designated hitter Alberto Callaspo and right fielder Josh Reddick followed with back-to-back singles to right field, with Reddick driving in Cespedes, giving Oakland a 2-0 lead.

Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks drove in catcher Kurt Suzuki with an RBI double in the bottom of the inning to make it 2-1, but that was as close as Minnesota would get.

"I looked up at the end of the second inning and it said 50-something pitches," Kazmir said. "You put yourself in a bad situation like that. But you can't think about that, you can't dwell on the past, you just have to get out there and get as many outs as you can."

A walk to Oakland shortstop Jed Lowrie and a double off the right field wall by third baseman Josh Donaldson provided the A's with a two-on, one-out opportunity in the third inning. Moss followed with a sharp single to right that drove in both before Callaspo's double to left scored Moss, pushing Oakland's lead to 5-1.

"His location wasn't there. He was out and over the plate an awful lot against this team," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Correia. "After they scored a few runs, he started pounding it inside a little bit better. His last couple innings were better because of that.

"You can't just stay out and over the plate on these guys. We've talked about that. He didn't have his best stuff out there."

The Twins got two runs back in the bottom of the third on a one-out double by left fielder Jason Kubel and an RBI groundout by Suzuki.

Kazmir settled in from there, allowing only a walk and a single over his final three innings despite not having his best stuff. He turned to his cutter in the middle innings to try to catch the Twins off guard.

"It's something I hadn't shown that entire game, or even the last game," Kazmir said. "I wasn't as sharp as I'd like to be out there, to say the least. I got to the third inning and was just trying to get as many quick outs as I could to get as deep as I possibly could."

Correia got into a rhythm, too, retiring eight of nine hitters before running into trouble with two outs in the sixth. He surrendered a home run to Oakland catcher Derek Norris and a single to second baseman Eric Sogard before getting the hook.

Correia (0-1) pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits.

"I just kind of threw a couple bad pitches in situations where I had a chance to get out of a jam. That's what I'd been able to do here the last couple years is get out of a jam," Correia said. "It was just a situation where I had a chance to get out of a couple innings, and I walked two guys that both scored, which is ... something I don't normally do."

Lowrie left the game after he was hit in the right leg by a seventh-inning pitch. He is day-to-day.

Moss and Cespedes finished with two RBIs apiece. Donaldson, Callaspo and Norris each had two of Oakland's 10 hits.

NOTES: The Twins announced during the game they acquired INF Eduardo Nunez from the New York Yankees in exchange for minor league LHP Miguel Sulbaran. Nunez played in 270 career games with the Yankees, hitting .267 with 10 home runs, 76 RBIs and 102 runs since entering the league in 2010. Nunez, designated for assignment last week by the Yankees, was assigned to Triple-A Rochester but added to Minnesota's 40-man roster. ... Oakland RF Josh Reddick collected his first RBI of the season in the second. After a breakout 2012 campaign in which he hit 32 home runs and had 85 RBIs, Reddick struggled last season, hitting just 12 homers and driving in 56. He started this year 2-for-20. ... Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe had a third-inning single, extending his hitting streak to seven games to start the season. Plouffe also walked in the first inning, marking the fifth game this season he drew a base on balls. Plouffe has six walks through 27 at-bats in 2014 after drawing just 34 in 477 at-bats last season.

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