The Oakland A’s have now won ten straight games after Jesus Luzardo was literally lights out in a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins in the second game of their doubleheader Tuesday night.
The A’s (11-7) were able to score one run in fourth thanks to a Seth Brown single, and that was all they needed. Matt Olson led off the fourth with a double that beat a right-side shift on a ball that landed just fair in shallow left field. Mitch Moreland walked with one out before Brown singled to make it 1-0.
Ever since Brown was called up, the A’s have been winning and he contributes in every game he starts or enters. He is not surprised at all the team has now won ten straight:
“As a team we are all grinding for it everyday. We are battling everyday out there for it. It is no surprise to me. The guys we have on this team, it is just a result of guys going about there business the right way, every single day. So it really just doesn’t surprise me at all with where we are at right now.”
Brown had doubled in his first at-bat after a Moreland single in the second but they were both left stranded. José Berríos kept the A’s to just four hits, a pair in the second and a pair in the fourth. Berríos (L, 2-2, 3.00 ERA) threw 89 pitches in his five innings where he allowed one run off four hits. He walked one batter and struck out five.
LHP Jesús Luzardo rocked his kelly green jersey with a pair of bright yellow spikes in his first start of 2021 wearing his prescription glasses after using contacts in his first three starts without recording a win.
Luzardo spoke about his outfit after the game, but believes the glasses were the real key to getting him back to his 2020 self:
“It feels amazing. I just felt like my old self for the first time all year .. I just felt like I was getting away from myself and that’s just kinda my thing [glasses] so now I am back to myself… I used my walk up song from last year, just everything. My mentality just everything, different… I guess like look good, feel good, I think that is a thing for all of us. Rocking those new cleats they were awesome. I like them.”
Luzardo (W, 1-1, 5.89 ERA) held the Twins to just one hit through four innings and, after the second hit in the fourth, the stadium lights in left field went dark and the game was delayed. He threw 10 to 12 pitches in the bullpen while he waited but Luzardo said it didn’t affect him:
“I was good. It was definitely weird, never happened to me before. I heard it happened in 2019 and Fiers threw a no-hitter so that was the joke running around but I mean it was weird but glad we got the game in.”
The A’s retook the field 24 minutes and 47 seconds later, and Luzardo finished off a 2-1 count to Brent Rooker with a strikeout. Vimael Machin started at second and made a beautiful sprint to shallow right field to make a behind-the-back catch to end the inning leaving Jorge Polanco stranded, one of only two Twins to reach in Luzardo’s five full.
The entire infield and Luzardo waited for Machin to run in as they high-fived on their way into the dugout. Brown had a pretty good view of the play:
“Oh, I mean it was a great play on his part. That is definitely a tough ball to get to. Over the shoulder like that with the slide, I mean I had a great look at it so I was pumped for him cause that is a heck of a play out there.”
Luzardo escaped the fifth inning and had only thrown 54 pitches when he entered the sixth, giving up a leadoff walk before striking Ryan Jeffers and being relieved by Lou Trvino. Luzardo threw 65 pitches and only 11 of them were balls.
Luzardo used the command of his fastball early in the game before he mixed up his off speed pitches and believes that and the glasses were the key to him getting his first win of the season. But he touched on how the starting rotation as a whole has helped him both on and off the field:
“We kind of get motivated from each other. I get motivated … I see all these dudes, I see them all do well and that is why we have been saying iron sharpens iron. At the end of the day when they are doing well you are motivated to do well, you don’t want to be the weak link so you know you have to go out there and do your thing so I think we all feel the same way and we have a lot of fun doing it.”
Luzardo pitched 5-1/3 innings, allowing just two singles to Josh Donaldson and Polanco. He finished his night with six strikeouts and walked one batter, Luis Arraez, who was left on first when Trivino took the mound.
A passed ball by backup catcher Aramís Garcia advanced the tying runner to second and a wild pitch put him on third with two outs. Donaldson made Trivino work for the final out but finally, after eight pitches, Trivino struck him out looking to end the inning.
Melvin on Luzardo’s first win of the season and how the entire rotation has performed after their 0-6 start:
“He is really good and he is really talented. He has a lot of confidence so he’s had to go through some tough stretches but it seems like when he has a tough game, he comes up, he comes back, and responds. Had a really good fastball today, only one walk. Recently our starters have commanded their fastball well and use that early in the game and we are able to use some other pitches next time around and there is something to be said for that.”
Trivino already has two saves and has been the most consistent in the bullpen, earning him the closing role while the A’s await new closer Trevor Rosenthal to recover from surgery.
Melvin explained what went into his decision to put Diekman in the ninth and Trivino in the eighth as opposed to the other way around, which seemed to have been working:
“I felt more comfortable with Lou at the top right there with Garver and Donaldson and I wanted Diekman to be able to start his own inning. This lineup is going to be tough on left-handed pitching, even though left-handers had a really good day today. With a guy on base too, Lou can get you a ground ball with his sinker. I was just more comfortable with him at the top and Diekman after that.”
Hansel Robles relieved Berríos and threw a perfect sixth. Jake Diekman came out for the final inning of the day and hit Nelson Cruz with an 84-mph slider and the tying runner was safely on first with no outs. Elvis Andrus could have turned two but instead picked up an error to put runners on first and second with no outs.
Diekman struck out Rooker for the first out before Willians Astudillo made Diekman work. On his 23rd pitch of the inning, Astudillo hit what at first looked like a two-run homer but Mark Canha made a catch up against the wall to end the game. What could have gone out on a warm day, stayed in as the A’s had the wind on their side Tuesday night.
Melvin explained what went into the decision to take the field with only half the lights back on in left field:
“Once the lights came back on there, it was good enough. It wasn’t going to get any better but what you worry about is around the mound and home plate and that wasn’t affected so I’m just glad it wasn’t too dark for Mark to catch the ball and end the game right there [left-field wall]”