The Twins envisioned coming out of the All-Star break with a big push toward that elusive .500 mark. But Oakland's new "Bash Brothers" laid waste to their pitching staff during a three-game sweep, and now the Twins are approaching new season lows.
Twins pitchers were under siege all weekend, especially on Sunday during a 9-4 loss to to the A's as starter Brian Duensing was knocked out after two innings and six relievers were needed to get through the final seven. Oakland swept the Twins in a series here for the first time since April 28-30, 2000.
Oakland outscored the Twins 24-10 in the series, and the Athletics batted .289 and slugged nine homers. They hit four on Sunday, including one by Chris Carter that was estimated at 430 feet. They also hit four homers on Saturday during a 9-3 victory.
Cuban thumper Yoenis Cespedes batted .571 in the series with two home runs and six RBI.
At 36-52, the Twins are 16 games under .500, and if they lose Monday to Jim Thome and the Baltimore Orioles they would equal their low point of the season.
"It's three games we really didn't play very well in," third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. "We need to put that behind us."
Oakland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first as Cespedes had an RBI single and Derek Norris drew a bases-loaded walk off Duensing, who needed 41 pitches to get out of the first inning.
"Another ballgame where our starting pitcher had a hard time," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Deuce couldn't get the ball in, I think we all saw it.
"I don't know how many pitches,  pitches in two innings, not very good. Was flat across the zone. They beat it around. Forty pitches in the first inning is too long. Just couldn't put a hitter away and couldn't finish off a hitter. Ends up getting us in a deep hole and kind of went from there."
Duensing gave up four runs in the second inning, before getting the hook on home runs by Jonny Gomes, Cespedes and Carter.
"It was a bad day, basically. And a quick one," Duensing said. "I felt fine in the bullpen. I threw a no-hitter in the bullpen. Somehow it didn't transfer today. Really bad day."
A's righthander Jarrod Parker went six innings to get the win. Meanwhile, Duensing's ERA in four starts is 10.13 compared to 3.12 in 30 relief appearances.
Oakland looks like it has the makings of a solid heart of the order, with outfielders Josh Reddick and Cespedes and Carter at first base.
Twins great Tony Oliva, who helped with the Spanish language radio broadcast Sunday, was very impressed with his countryman.
"He hits the ball real hard," Oliva said of Cespedes. "And the other kid [Carter], he is strong."
The Twins used all eight of their relievers to pitch the final two games of the series and are in serious need of help from Scott Diamond, who will start Monday against Baltimore as the teams begin a four-game series.
"Our offense is doing the job, our bullpen is doing the job," Duensing said. "The starting pitching right now is really struggling and not putting our team in a good spot."