Two stars who enjoy performing at the Oakland Coliseum go head-to-head Wednesday night when the Minnesota Twins and host Oakland Athletics continue their three-game series.
The A’s won the opener 8-6 with a powerful display that featured a grand slam by catcher Chris Herrmann in his season debut.
Matt Olson and Mark Canha also homered for the A’s, helping offset two home runs by Twins catcher Jason Castro and a two-run shot by Miguel Sano.
The playoff hopefuls were meeting for the first time this season.
Nelson Cruz, who is tied with Mike Trout for the career home run lead in Oakland among active A’s opponents with 16, went 0-for-4 in the game.
On Wednesday, he will renew a rivalry with fellow veteran Mike Fiers (8-3, 4.01 ERA), against whom he belted a homer the last time they squared off, last August in a game at Oakland between the A’s and Seattle Mariners.
The homer was Cruz’s first against Fiers and raised his career average against the right-hander to .353 (6-for-17).
Cruz celebrated his 39th birthday Monday, and he was asked if he felt old.
“Nah, it’s just a number,” he insisted to reporters. “People like to make a big deal about round numbers, not 39.”
Acquired from Detroit in a trade last season, Fiers has gone 8-2 in Oakland since joining the A’s. He’s 5-2 at home this season, and he hasn’t lost in front of the home fans since April 20.
Overall, he’s gone 10 straight starts without a loss, recording a 6-0 mark with a 2.39 ERA.
Fiers has pitched against the Twins 11 times in his career, including 10 times as a starter. He’s compiled a 6-1 record and 2.77 ERA in those games.
He pitched a 3-2 win over the Twins last September in their last visit to Oakland.
Robbie Grossman batted cleanup for Minnesota that night and went 0-for-3 with a walk. He’s since switched ballclubs in free agency, and Tuesday he contributed two hits, a run and an RBI to Oakland’s 8-6 win.
He noted before the game he didn’t expect to get any additional satisfaction in succeeding at the expense of his former teammates.
“I talk to a bunch of those guys still,” Grossman told reporters. “I told them that I hope they don’t do well for the next three days.”
Interestingly, Grossman has more career at-bats against Fiers (2-for-11) than against right-hander Kyle Gibson (3-for-6), who is scheduled to get Wednesday’s start for Minnesota.
Gibson (8-4, 4.21 ERA) has made two career starts in Oakland, going 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA. Overall, he’s 2-2 with a 4.03 ERA in four career starts against the A’s.
Gibson’s most recent outing was a relief appearance Thursday against the visiting Rays, when he threw a perfect 17th inning in a game that Tampa Bay eventually won 5-2 in 18 innings.
The Tuesday victory was Oakland’s fourth in a row and kicked off a stretch in which the A’s and Twins will duel seven days in a 20-day span bridging the All-Star break.
The Twins have lost three of four to start a six-game trip, and four of five overall.
–Field Level Media
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