OAKLAND, CALIF. – Fans were allowed to stay Saturday after the Athletics took the Twins apart — again — in a 9-1 victory at Overstock.com Coliseum. The Rangers-Royals game was put on the video board, and everyone was ready to party if Kansas City could rally to beat Texas, which would have clinched the American League West title for Oakland.
It didn’t work out, as Texas won 3-1. Oakland’s magic number remained at one.
The way the Twins are crumbling in front of the A’s, fans here won’t have to wait long.
Twins lefthander Pedro Hernandez was knocked out of the game in the second inning, the Twins defense made another mistake and the A’s eased to their fifth consecutive victory over the Twins — outscoring them 54-12 during that run.
“Right now, we are in their way and they are pushing us around,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Oakland will clinch the division if the Rangers, who play first on Sunday, lose. If not, Oakland will clinch with a sixth consecutive victory over the Twins, which looks to be a formality as the Twins look outclassed. The Twins’ lone run Saturday came on a solo home run by Josmil Pinto in the fifth inning, which helped them avoid being shut out for a club-record 15th time.
The game was delayed two hours by rain, and in addition to that, the sewage backed up into the coaches’ room in the home clubhouse — the third time this season the A’s have had a sewage problem in their aging ballpark. At one point, it oozed from the faucets.
According to someone in the Twins clubhouse, there were no signs of water or sewage in there — only a team that has been struggling to beat anyone.
Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Alberto Callaspo’s RBI single. The A’s pummeled the Twins with five runs in the second. It started when Pedro Florimon was charged with a throwing error on Michael Choice’s ground ball, but Gardenhire pointed out that Chris Colabello stretched for the ball too early and couldn’t adjust to Florimon’s throw as it skipped by.
Things unraveled from there, as the A’s got four hits, including Callaspo’s two-run homer, for a 6-0 lead.
“Any mistake you make right now they jump on you,” Gardenhire said. “It’s like piranhas with blood in the water. And they add on. They just keep swinging and every time we made a mistake they just kill you. They are a hot baseball team and really getting after it.”
Righthander Liam Hendriks replaced Hernandez and pitched fairly well before giving up a two-run homer to Kurt Suzuki in the seventh and a solo shot to Yoenis Cespedes in the eighth. He gave up three runs over six innings and saved the rest of the bullpen.
“I felt so much more comfortable,” Hendriks said. “I felt really good. The ball was coming out good.”
The Twins still believe Hendriks has the pitches to win at the major league level. He lost his spot in the rotation after failing to get out of the first inning Monday in Chicago. Gardenhire said they couldn’t tell if he was throwing a changeup or slider that night, that’s how bad his pitches looked. Gardenhire said he saw Hendriks throw better breaking balls Saturday.
• The Twins have signed 16-year-old Dominican righthander Alexander Vargas, a pitcher they believe can develop into a hard thrower. Vargas is 6-foot-2 and about 190 pounds. According to a source, the Twins signed Vargas for $185,000.
• Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak left the team before Friday’s game to head for the Twin Cities to take care of a personal matter.