OAKLAND, Calif. – You’ve heard the cliché, “The only team that can beat us is ourselves?” For the Twins, the only ones who can beat the Athletics might be the ex-Athletics.
Kurt Suzuki and Josh Willingham, who each heard applause this weekend from A’s fans who remember them fondly, drove in a couple of runs apiece Sunday, and the Twins broke a 12-game losing streak to Oakland by winning 6-1 at O.co Coliseum.
“It just feels good to win,” Willingham said. “We needed to win this one badly.”
Suzuki doubled off the top of the center field wall in the eighth inning, driving home the go-ahead run, and Willingham followed by belting a two-run homer into the left-field seats, breaking open a game that felt stalemated much of the day by the Phil Hughes-Jason Hammel pitching duel.
Suzuki “has been doing that all year for us,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “None bigger than that one. Just missing a home run — he seems to come up with the big hits for us.”
That he did it against the Oakland bullpen made Suzuki’s clutch double, which drove home Danny Santana, even bigger. A’s relievers had not given up a run in more than 28 innings, a franchise record, until Suzuki connected against Luke Gregorson. Suzuki also added another RBI with a bases-loaded infield single in the ninth.
Hughes (12-8) pitched seven strong innings, giving up only one run and four hits while striking out seven. His ERA dropped his ERA to 3.88 as he tied Scott Diamond (2012) for the most victories by a Twins pitcher in the past four seasons.
Help in Houston
Joe Mauer and Tommy Milone headed to Houston on Sunday, ready to be activated by the Twins on Monday.
The Twins have already opened a roster spot for Milone by trading Kevin Correia. Making room for Mauer is a little trickier.
“We’re not going to do anything until we get to Houston,” Gardenhire said after the game, citing of a pair of minor injuries.
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe fouled a pitch off his left ankle during his first at-bat on Saturday, and the ankle swelled up overnight. X-rays found no break and Plouffe said it felt better after a day off, but his status is uncertain.
Meanwhile, Oswaldo Arcia missed his second consecutive game because of soreness in his lower back. He injured it while swinging at a pitch during his next-to-last at-bat Friday night, and made it a little worse on his final at-bat. He took batting practice in a cage Sunday, and said he believes he will be OK on Monday.
Gardenhire didn’t sound too sure. “We’ll get to Houston and see which one, if one of them has to go on the [disabled list],” he said. Doing so would allow the Twins to avoid cutting ties with another player or demoting someone to Class AAA Rochester.
Mauer, out since July 1 with a strained oblique muscle in his left side, concluded his weeklong rehab assignment in Cedar Rapids by going 6-for-15.
• Ricky Nolasco gave up three runs on eight hits in 5⅔ innings at Class A Cedar Rapids on Sunday, and is on track to be activated when the Twins return home Friday to face the Royals. Nolasco is recovering from elbow soreness that landed him on the DL last month.
• Jose Berrios, who started the Futures Game last month at Target Field, was activated from the DL on Sunday and pitched four innings for Class AA New Britain, giving up one run.