There probably wouldn’t be much push back if everyone agreed to just not discuss what happened over that last atrocious road trip. The A’s went a measly 1-6 and entirely forgot how to hit during the last week, but at the very least now get to return home to take on a pair of sputtering teams whom Oakland should hopefully take care of in order to get back on track. Never you mind the fact that the A’s should have taken care of the last two teams they faced, as well. If it’s any consolation, the rest of the AL West is still bad outside of Houston, and the A’s will still have a better record than the Giants when the Bay Bridge series begins after the weekend is through.

· Houston: 67-34

· Seattle: 51-52

· Texas: 49-52

· Anaheim: 49-54

· Oakland: 44-58

For the next couple of series, at least through the trade deadline, it would be understandable if fans of all the teams involved were paying more attention to the action off of the field, rather than on it.

Despite playing for a manager who clearly does not understand all the rules of baseball, Minnesota has done pretty well for themselves this season. The Twins last faced the A’s in the earliest chapters of the baseball season, when the team was off to a torrid start and found itself in first place for most of the season’s first half. The Twins playing at a high level caught the baseball world off guard, considering how many question marks permeated the pitching staff and the inexperienced youth on the position player side of the roster, and for a while it appeared as though the Twins could make a playoff run with the other teams in its division starting slow. For a while, there was talk of Minnesota deviating from their preseason plan and expectations and becoming buyers for pitching before the trade deadline.

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Alas, both the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals have caught fire and are arguably the two best-playing teams in baseball right now, and the Twins have lost four consecutive games and have fallen to under .500 and into third place. Fans of the Twins worried about the team sacrificing its future for a small shot at the present likely don’t have to worry much longer, but also the team just dealt some smaller parts for starter Jaime Garcia, so those fans most certainly still cannot rest easy.

Who’s Hot/Not

Youngsters Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario are still both hitting the cover off of the baseball, but the rest of the lineup is generally average through and through. The team is getting next to zero production from both of their primary catchers, Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez, and Bryan Buxton still hasn’t figured things out at the big league level (and is currently injured, but due to return very soon), but by and large there aren’t any major weaknesses in the Twins lineup. There aren’t many strengths either, with Brian Dozier returning to being just regular-good and not historic good, and Joe Mauer’s long, slow, sad decline to being an average first baseman.

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The Twins pitching has not been good. Ervin Santana has been good, even great, at times, but the A’s won’t be facing him in this series, but the rest of the staff has topped out at average and most of it has simply been bad. The main problem pitcher, Kyle Gibson, has been cast off to the minors to sort himself out, but the remainder of both the starting rotation and the bullpen isn’t exactly knee-knockingly intimidating. To shore up the pitching staff, the Twins recently made the aforementioned trade for Jaime Garcia, and have also signed struggling veteran and former Oakland A fan favorite Bartolo Colon.

The Matchups

Friday, July 28th at 7:05 – Daniel Gossett vs Jaime Garcia

Saturday, July 29th at 6:05 – Chris Smith vs Adalberto Mejia

Sunday, July 30th at 1:05 – Sonny Gray vs Bartolo Colon

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All games are on NBCSCA and MLB.tv

How the A’s Win the Series

The A’s are lucky that the above matchups are for pitching and not for boxing, as the Twins’ three starting pitchers probably have a solid one hundred pound advantage in the size department against Oakland’s three guys. But, there isn’t a better team to face when trying to re-start a sputtering offense than the Twins. Ignore the fact that this author basically said the same thing against the last team they faced, and ignore what happened over the previous four games. If the A’s hit, they should be able to win all three games of this series, because for the first time this season, the starting pitching has managed to stay fairly consistent, and the defense isn’t hemorrhaging away runs several times a game (at least not every game, anyways). And the A’s are playing at home, where the team has played just as well as anyone else, if not better, all season. The disparity between the A’s home record and away record is the largest in the American League.

Just don’t let Casilla pitch. Or anyone from the bullpen, really.

If Sonny Gray has been traded before the start of Sunday’s game, in all likelihood Jharel Cotton will be starting in his place.

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