Twins take no-hitter into eighth, down Oakland 4-2

MINNEAPOLIS — Ron Gardenhire heard the boos from Twins fans Sunday afternoon. And the Minnesota manager acknowledged he was kind of booing himself at the same time.

Even though Kevin Slowey just pitched seven innings of no-hit baseball against Oakland, Gardenhire went to his bullpen to finish the game. The bid for a combined no-hitter didn’t last long, either, when Jon Rauch gave up a double to the second batter he faced in what would end being a 4-2 Twins victory.

“I would boo me too,” Gardenhire said. “I took a pitcher out with a no-hitter going. But I would do it 1,000 times the same way.”

The reason was simple: Elbow tendinitis caused Slowey to miss his last start. Combine that with 106 pitches to get through seven innings and there was little chance of him throwing two more innings — even if he continued to hold the Athletics without a hit.

“We’re not going to come close to risking this guy,” Gardenhire said. “It’s the way it is. It’s sad. I’d be booing too because I want to see a no-hitter, but I also know I’m responsible for this guy’s arm.”

While the bullpen couldn’t hold the shutout, Slowey, Rauch, Jesse Crain and Matt Capps combined to limit Oakland to three hits as the Twins completed their fifth series sweep this season and third since the All-Star break. Capps secured his fourth save in five appearances for the Twins since being acquired from the Nationals.

Jason Kubel drove in the first run for the Twins and Jim Thome homered for a Minnesota team that will open a key AL Central series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. The Twins (68-50) also moved 18 games over .500, their best record in nearly two years.

Slowey, who was congratulated by teammates, coaches and Gardenhire when he finished the seventh inning, didn’t pitch like a guy who had just been skipped because of elbow problems. He allowed only five baserunners and struck out five during his masterful performance.

“I was a little disappointed,” Slowey said. “I don’t think it would be possible not to be a little bit disappointed. But I think more than anything I think I was encouraged.

“I was encouraged by the way it was presented to me. I was encouraged by the fact that Gardy and (pitching coach Rick Anderson) care a whole lot about me as a person and as a pitcher in the long term than they do about winning one game or having one accomplishment. I think that says a lot about them, and it says a lot about our organization.”

Slowey (11-5) got out of a jam in the seventh, when he put runners on first and second with one out. Gardenhire made a visit to the mound, but Slowey got Rajai Davis to ground into a double play that ended the inning.

Leading off the top of the fifth, Mark Ellis hit what appeared to be a routine ground ball to Twins shortstop Alexi Casilla. He handled the ball cleanly, but his throw sailed well over the head of Minnesota first baseman Michael Cuddyer and into the Twins dugout. The error allowed Ellis to reach second, but Slowey struck out three straight batters to end the inning.

“It just looked like he was painting the corners,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “He had a pretty good, slow breaking ball that started high, a few of the guys kind of gave up on it, and it dropped in. Then when he threw it down, we’re just a touch out in front of it.

“He pitched inside enough to open up the outside part. The velocity and the movement wasn’t really the story. It was just the command of his pitches.”

Vin Mazarro (6-5) was effective for Oakland, limiting the Twins to two runs — one earned — on seven hits in six-plus innings. He’s now thrown at least six innings in nine of 10 starts.

The Athletics have lost five of their past six games and 10 of 16.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead by stringing together three consecutive hits in the third. With two outs, Orlando Hudson singled up the middle and moved to third on Joe Mauer’s single. Hudson then scored when Kubel’s hit down the left-field line bounced into the seats for a double.

Thome added to the lead in the seventh, when he hit his 16th homer of the season into the right-field seats. The home run on a 3-0 pitch off of Oakland reliever Jerry Blevins — which was caught by a fan in a Thome T-shirt — was the 580th of Thome’s career.

“I’m just glad Gardy gave me the hit sign there,” Thome said. “It worked out well.”

NOTES: Delmon Young wasn’t in the starting lineup for the Twins for only the second time since May 27. Gardenhire wanted to get him some rest before playing the White Sox. … Oakland reliever Andrew Bailey threw 20 pitches off of the mound, something Geren called “a big step” in his rehab. Bailey (rib cage) hasn’t pitched since July 20. … Geren said OF Connor Jackson (hamstring) could also be activated in the next week.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III celebrates after scoring against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of Sunday’s game in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Grading the Seahawks in their 37-27 win over the Panthers

Seattle turns in a solid all-around performance in front of the 2013 Super Bowl winners.

Monroe’s Mason Davis (1) celebrates with Trent Bublitz (11) after Bublitz’s touchdown reception against Edmonds-Woodway on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, at Edmonds School District Stadium in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Reader poll: Make your picks for Week 5 prep football games

Do you think you can beat the experts in our weekly high… Continue reading

Arlington’s defense stuffs Ferndale running back Talan Bungard on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Arlington steamrolls Ferndale in 3A Wesco North showdown

The Eagles light up offense in the first half, finish business to earn a 46-14 win.

Lake Stevens High School head football coach Tom Tri hoists his team’s championship trophy during a community parade and celebration Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
The Herald’s 2022-23 Man of the Year in Sports: Tom Tri

The Lake Stevens coach guided the Vikings to Snohomish County’s first large classification football state title in more than 30 years.

West Linn’s Ryan Vandenbrink (23) runs with the ball during a football game between Lake Stevens and West Linn at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. West Linn won, 49-30. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Turnovers cost Lake Stevens in loss to Oregon power West Linn

The Vikings’ run of 35 straight home wins in the regular season ends in an interstate showdown of big-school state champions.

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Lynnwood teammates mob senior Abbie Orr (4) after her impressive dig led to a point against Jackson during a volleyball match Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, at Lynnwood High School in Bothell, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lynnwood volleyball team continues rise to prominence

After ending a 20-year state drought last season, the Royals are surging again and have vaulted to No. 3 in Class 3A in the new WSVCA poll.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) scrambles up field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Seahawks set to host Panthers, honor past while focused on present

Seattle will honor the 10-year anniversary of its only Super Bowl championship during Sunday’s game.

Jackson High’s Ben Lee lunges to get to the ball against Kamiak on Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022, at the Kamiak Tennis Courts in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep boys tennis season preview: Players and teams to watch

A look at the area’s top athletes and teams on the tennis court this fall.

Most Read