Twins, Perkins clobbered in finale

Twins, Perkins clobbered in finale

OAKLAND -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has stressed that his club's fate in the second half of the season relies on whether the starting pitching can get on a roll.

That's why a loss like the one they suffered Wednesday in Oakland -- falling 16-1 to the A's in the series finale -- is so concerning.

Starter Glen Perkins managed to last just one-plus innings as he and three other Twins pitchers combined to throw 182 pitches while allowing 18 hits and walking eight batters in a loss that snapped the club's streak of five straight road series wins.

Afterward, Gardenhire seemed more than frustrated by watching his club suffer through another woeful pitching performance and bristled when asked if he was concerned by another starter's short outing.

"We just got our [rear ends] kicked, what does it matter?" Gardenhire said. "We just have to turn the page. Go out and try to find a way to turn the page. It's over with. We just got beat, 16-1, so yeah, you've got to be concerned."

It was the second contest in the three-game series against the A's -- including Monday's 14-13 loss -- that Twins pitchers couldn't find a way to shut down one of the worst offenses in the American League.

Entering Wednesday, the A's ranked last in the American League in extra-base hits, home runs and slugging percentage. They had scored the third fewest runs in the league and have been shutout a total of seven times (third most).

But over the three contests with the Twins -- which totaled 28 innings -- the A's scored 32 runs off Minnesota's pitching staff.

"It's definitely troubling," catcher Mike Redmond said. "To say I'm concerned about the pitching right now would be an understatement."

Particularly disconcerting on Wednesday was the start of Perkins, who gave up eight earned runs on six hits in his outing.

After the contest, Gardenhire said that Perkins was battling a sore left shoulder and that he would join third baseman Joe Crede in seeing specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles on Thursday morning.

Gardenhire said the team was first made aware of Perkins' ailment following his start. The pitcher told the staff that the problem popped up over the All-Star break, but that he said it got better once he got warmed up while throwing.

"We are just finding out about it," Gardenhire said, while not hiding his own frustration over the injury. "We'll probably have to find a starter for [Perkins' next turn] at home."

It's the second time this season that a Perkins injury has been revealed following a poor, short start. The same thing happened in New York when Perkins threw just two-thirds of an inning and went on the disabled list following the game with an left elbow strain.

But Perkins didn't really want to discuss his latest shoulder problem in relation to his start on Wednesday.

"It's not something that I think hindered me today," Perkins said. "It's something that I more brought to their attention for moving forward ... I think today I left pitches up and fell behind hitters -- did things I don't usually do. Every team in the big leagues, no matter how good or bad they are, they're going to hit pitches up in the zone. These guys are hot right now and they took advantage of it."

Pitching with a 1-0 lead thanks to a Justin Morneau solo home run in the top of the first, Perkins got one quick out and then saw things completely unravel.

He allowed seven straight hitters to reach base, giving up five runs in his first trip through the A's batting order, as he continued a trend of first-inning woes.

Perkins (5-6) entered the contest with a 9.88 ERA in the first inning this season, but that number rose to 12.27 after the first frame. In his past three starts, Perkins has allowed a total of eight runs in the first inning.

"I think that's something I'll have to look at," Perkins said. "Maybe it's what I do pregame or how I warm up in the bullpen, stuff like that. But I don't know. It's frustrating. It's probably the most important inning to put up a zero than any one."

Perkins was sent out for the start of the second, but following a three-run homer by Scott Hairston he was replaced by Kevin Mulvey. Making just his second Major League appearance, Mulvey couldn't quite mop up like the Twins had hoped. He gave up four runs in just an inning of work.

So with at least six innings of relief work still needed from a bullpen that had already thrown 18 in its previous five contests, the Twins turned to R.A. Dickey to try to eat up some innings. He did, throwing 4 1/3 innings and giving up four runs while tossing a total of 86 pitches.

"He did a great job saving guys in the bullpen," Redmond said. "But if our starting pitching doesn't get us into the sixth or seventh inning, then we can't expect those guys to last."

The Twins swapped relievers after Wednesday's contest -- bringing up Jesse Crain from Triple-A Rochester to replace Mulvey who was sent down. But it's clear that what the club really needs is a boost from its starting staff.

That's because they certainly don't seem ready to endure more contests like the one on Wednesday.

"We got [beat badly]," Gardenhire lamented afterward. "It wasn't much fun. Really, there was no fun."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.