A handful of late-night notes after the Twins successfully avoided being no-hit by Jon Lester:
HE KEEPS PITCHING: You get so conditioned to the Twins' pitch-count philosophy, it's almost jarring to hear that someone has thrown 122 pitches, as Jon Lester did against the Twins on Thursday. (And James Shields, with 124, did in the Twins' 2-1 win over the Royals last week, come to think of it.) No Twins pitcher has thrown 120 pitches in a game since May 24, 2011, when Nick Blackburn threw 127 pitches in a complete-game win. For Lester, though, it's nothing out of the ordinary; tonight was the second time this season, and 16th time in his career, that he has eclipsed 120 pitches. Strangely, though: It's only the second time he pitched nine innings in running his pitch count that high, and first time since 2008.
CATCHING THEM AT GOOD TIME? Even though they have the major leagues' best run differential, by far, at plus-167, the A's have been having trouble scoring runs lately. Tonight's game was the fourth straight in which they've scored exactly three runs, and they're averaging only 2.86 runs in their past eight games. (Of course, when you have a pitching staff like Oakland's, there's no reason to panic; the three runs they scored the past four games were good enough for three wins.) Stephen Vogt's home run broke up an 0-for-23 skid for him, and Brandon Moss' fourth-inning double broke up his 0-for-18. And the Twins had to recognize the disease that afflicts Oakland these days: The A's were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
PLENTY OF ROOM TO RUN: The Twins have now lost 10 straight games to the A's, and seven in a row at the concrete coliseum. This has always been a difficult place to play for the Twins; they haven't been more than one game above .500 here since 2000. And the style of play is certainly unusual. With all the foul ground, it seems that nearly every ball that might drift into the stands at Target Field is a potential out here. The teams combined for five foul outs tonight, which obviously holds down the offense.