When he signed a one-year contract worth $4.5 million last winter, Fernando Rodney was expecting to close the door on playoff-race victories at Target Field.
He’ll get the chance to do that this week but it won’t be with the Minnesota Twins. Instead, he’ll be doing it for an Oakland Athletics squad that has surged back into the thick of the American League West Division and wild-card races.
He hopes to get an opportunity to pitch Friday when Oakland continues its four-game series versus Minnesota.
Rodney has been outstanding since joining his new squad. He has yet to allow a run and has not walked a batter through his first six appearances with the A’s, who have lost two in a row but have won eight of their last 12 games. They are 1 1/2 games back of Houston in the AL West but four ahead of Seattle for the second and final AL wild-card spot.
“He’s been absolutely terrific,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of Rodney. “For a guy that’s used to pitching the ninth inning, we’ve asked him to do some different things here and he’s had absolutely no problem with it. Pitching a down game (Wednesday).
“So he just wants to come in and contribute however he can. He’s got a really good personality to him and fits in really well with the guys. Obviously, he’s been a significant factor for us.”
Rodney was the last of six veterans dealt away by Minnesota after the team failed to take a step forward after a surprise run to the wild-card game a year ago. He had posted a 3.09 ERA and converted 25 of 31 save opportunities before the Twins shipped him to Oakland for minor league right-hander Dakota Chalmers.
There he joined a bullpen that also added Jeurys Familia and Shawn Kelley to a group that included Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino.
“I think we were very blessed to have men that have come from other teams in Familia, Kelley and Rodney,” Treinen said, “that are willing to buy into what we have going already. Whatever role they end up putting us in, I think we’re all OK with it. I wanna continue to do my best because I know there are two All-Star closers behind me who could easily do my job.”
After dropping consecutive games for the first time since they were swept by Colorado from July 27-29, the A’s will try to get back to their winnings ways Friday night behind left-hander Sean Manaea (11-9, 3.70 ERA).
He, too, is looking to bounce back after a rough showing his last time out. Manaea lasted only four innings after allowing six runs on nine hits in a loss to the Astros.
Manaea is 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two career starts versus the Twins but none this season.
The Twins send right-hander Jake Odorizzi (5-7, 4.55) to the mound Friday. He, too, scuffled in his last start, allowing four runs over five innings in the Twins’ 5-4 victory over the Tigers.
“It was the same command issues that were kind of haunting me all day,” Odorizzi said. “I was behind a lot of counts, even in the middle innings when I was going good. I just need to execute a little bit better.”
It will mark Odorizzi’s first start against Oakland since July 17 of last season, when he held them to one hit over seven scoreless innings while with Tampa Bay. He is 1-2 with a 3.34 ERA in five career starts versus the Athletics.
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