MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ramón Laureano hit the first of Oakland’s four homers and Frankie Montas pitched six effective innings, helping the Athletics beat the sliding Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Friday night.
Sean Murphy and Stephen Piscotty each hit a two-run shot, and Mark Canha contributed a pinch-hit homer. The Athletics have won five of seven.
“This seems like it doesn’t play small,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of Target Field. “But just visually, it’s kind of a fun place to hit homers. You can hit them in upper decks. You can hit them out on the street in right field. It’s like a really good whiffle-ball field where there’s a good visual for homers, maybe.”
Montas (5-2) allowed one run and four hits in his third straight win. He is 3-0 with a 3.11 ERA in three May starts after posting a 6.20 ERA in five starts in April.
Part of the rough April was a four-inning, six-run outing against Minnesota.
“I feel like last time, I did throw a lot of fastballs and I was like missing my spots a lot,” Montas said. “I didn’t have my breaking stuff that day. My slider wasn’t good. Today, I feel like my slider was way better than it was last time. I was able to hit my spots today.”
Matt Shoemaker (2-4) allowed three of the home runs for the Twins. He surrendered five runs in six innings.
“That’s what makes it so frustrating,” Shoemaker said. “I feel like I threw the ball, overall, really well. Just a few of the mistakes really did damage.”
Josh Donaldson homered for Minnesota, which has lost five games in a row.
Laureano connected for his eighth homer of the season, a two-out solo drive in the third. Murphy added his fifth homer in the fifth, and Piscotty followed an inning later with his fourth.
Walks preceded the homers for Murphy and Piscotty.
“You walk a guy, give up a homer,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “When things are really not going your way, that’s what happens.”
Montas kept the Twins off the board until Donaldson’s leadoff homer in the sixth.
MORE THE MERRIER
With Minnesota governor Tim Walz relaxing the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, including lifting the mask mandate, the Twins opened Target Field to 60% capacity starting with Friday’s game. The 60% capacity will be in effect for the remaining games in May, and the team is planning for an 80% capacity for its 12 home games in June.
The plan is for 100% capacity starting on July 5.
“This is the big leagues and a big part of big league ballgames is the energy and the crowd and the fans and everything that goes along with it,” Baldelli said. “The more we can get back to returning to actual big league ballgames, where the crowd becomes a factor in those games, is what we’re all, that’s the goal, that’s what we’re excited about seeing.”
Athletics: INF/OF Chad Pinder was reinstated from the injured list after missing 35 games with a sprained left knee. Vimael Machín was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas but will remain with the team on the road trip as part of the taxi squad. … LHP A.J. Puk was scheduled for another Triple-A rehab appearance on Friday for Las Vegas. He has missed 33 games with a strained left biceps. … Melvin said LHP Jesús Luzardo is throwing up to 60 feet in his rehab from a fractured left hand. Luzardo has not advanced to bullpen work yet.
Twins: OF Jake Cave was unavailable because of a stress reaction in his lower back. He will be re-evaluated before Saturday’s game. … OF Alex Kirilloff has been taking part in baseball activities, including taking dry swings, as he recovers from a right wrist sprain. … OF Byron Buxton (right hip strain) was playing catch before the game, but he hasn’t started running. There is still no timeline for his return.
LHP Cole Irvin (3-4, 3.29 ERA) will start Saturday’s afternoon contest for Oakland. Minnesota counters with RHP José Berríos (3-2, 3.49 ERA). Irvin has a 2.01 ERA, 32 strikeouts and just four walks in 31 1/3 innings in his past five starts after going 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA in his first two starts. Berríos allowed one run in five innings against the Athletics on April 20.
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