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Oakland at Minnesota

Venue: Target Field
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While Sonny Gray has pitched well since joining the Oakland Athletics' rotation, he hasn't been backed by much support.

Manager Bob Melvin's offense couldn't get it done in the opener of this three-game set, either.

Gray tries to bounce back from a hard-luck loss Wednesday night as AL West-leading Oakland continues its playoff push against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

Gray (2-3, 2.51 ERA) has mostly been superb since getting called up for the second time Aug. 10, recording a 2.77 ERA and 38 strikeouts in six starts spanning 39 innings. While the 23-year-old rookie has surrendered two or zero earned runs in all but one of those outings, he hasn't been helped by a 3.69 run-support average.

The A's failed to come through for Gray again in Thursday's 3-2 loss to Houston. The right-hander yielded three runs - two earned - and seven hits in a season high-tying eight innings.

"Obviously the offense didn't do much," third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "It was just a wasted opportunity for him."

Gray induced 17 groundball outs and retired 19 of the final 20 batters he faced.

"He settled in really nicely, similar to what we've done here recently, which was pitch very well," Melvin told MLB's official website.

Gray will try to help Oakland (83-61) get back on track following Tuesday's 4-3 loss. The A's, who had won three straight and 11 of their previous 14, couldn't get much going aside from Alberto Callaspo's two-run homer.

The A's still remain two games ahead of second-place Texas, which also lost Tuesday.

Minnesota (63-80) has followed a 10-game home losing streak by posting back-to-back wins there. Josh Willingham went deep twice to snap an 0-for-15 slump and a 21-game homerless drought.

"Obviously he feels a little bit better," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Willingham, who spent 2011 with the A's. "So that was nice to see him get that, he needed to get a smile on his face. It's been a battle for him."

Willingham has hit safely in nine of 10 games against his former team, going 15 for 37 (.405) with seven homers and 17 RBIs.

The Twins now give the ball to Mike Pelfrey (5-11, 4.97). The right-hander, who went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in six starts last month, saw his woes resume Friday in a 6-5 loss to Toronto. He allowed all six runs in six innings, including five in the third.

"I felt like it was kind of a wasted day," he said. "I thought my stuff was good, but I didn't make enough quality pitches in the third inning and they kicked my butt. I guess you tip your cap, because I went out there and gave it everything I have and they beat me. But that third inning can't happen and ended up being the ballgame."

Pelfrey is 0-5 with a 5.85 ERA in his last 11 home starts.

While he has never faced Oakland, Pelfrey has struggled against Seth Smith, who is 6 for 13 with a homer, a double and a triple in their matchups. Chris Young is 7 for 21 with two extra-base hits.

Fellow outfielder Yoenis Cespedes could also give him trouble. He's 14 for 35 (.400) with two homers and five RBIs in nine games this month.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Probable Starters

Sonny Gray, RHP
2013 stats
43.0 Innings Pitched 139.1
2-3 Wins-Losses 5-11
2.51 Earned Run Average 4.97
11 Walks 48
44 Strikeouts 88
95 Pitches Per Start 94
Career vs. opponent
- Innings Pitched -
--- Wins-Losses ---
- Earned Run Average -

Mike Pelfrey, RHP
Weather
weather image  Morning clouds. Warm.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
83°F66°F14mph/NW36%8%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Oakland1st AL West6539.625-7-3 W 2
Minnesota5th AL Central4757.452113-7 W 1
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Mike Pelfrey
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Smith136132.462
Moss52011.400
Young217011.333
Barton000000
Blevins000000
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Sonny Gray
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Albers000000
Arcia000000
Bernier000000
Burton000000
Colabello000000
 

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Injuries
Oakland
PlayerInjury
K. BlanksCalf
A. GriffinElbow
J. ParkerElbow
Minnesota
PlayerInjury
K. GibsonBack
P. HughesShin
J. MauerOblique
R. NolascoElbow
M. PelfreyGroin
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 11MINMIN 10-1Gibson Chen 
Apr 12MINMIN 7-1Nolasco Shields 
Apr 13MINMIN 4-3Fien Crow 
Apr 18KCKC 5-0Vargas Nolasco 
Apr 19KCKC 5-4Chen Correia 
Apr 20KCMIN 8-3Hughes Ventura 
Jun 30MINKC 6-1Duffy Pino 
Jul 1MINMIN 10-2Nolasco Shields 
Jul 2MINKC 4-0Vargas Correia 
Jul 29KC 8:10 PM EDT  
Jul 30KC 8:10 PM EDT  
Jul 31KC 8:10 PM EDT  
Aug 15MIN 8:10 PM EDT  
Aug 16MIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 17MIN 2:10 PM EDT  
Aug 18MIN 8:10 PM EDT  
Aug 26KC 8:10 PM EDT  
Aug 27KC 8:10 PM EDT  
Aug 28KC 8:10 PM EDT