Oakland Athletics Newcomers All Contribute in 5-3 Victory Over Minnesota Twins

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Oakland Athletics Newcomers All Contribute in 5-3 Victory Over Minnesota Twins
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Hideki Matsui hit his first home run as an Oakland Athletic in the top of the fourth inning.

Oakland's newcomers finally put it all together and the A's put together back-to-back wins, taking their first series of the season.

David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui were acquired to give the Athletics an offensive boost to support their stellar starting pitching, and also to lift the A's from their 81-81 finish last season, into contention in the American League West.

Brandon McCarthy was signed to compete for the fifth starter position in the rotation, a competition he won during spring training.

Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes were acquired to add depth to the Oakland bullpen and help nail down victories for the young starting rotation.

After two series to start the season in which the bullpen and offense were drawing criticism, they finally managed to provide the results expected of them on a regular basis.

David DeJesus had two hits for Oakland on Sunday. Hideki Matsui also had a pair of hits, including his first home run as an Athletic. Josh Willingham added his third home run of the season in the effort. The Athletics also received hits from Daric Barton, Ryan Sweeney and Landon Powell in the nine-hit attack on Minnesota.

Matsui's home run, a solo-shot, came leading off the top of the fourth inning. The rest of the A's scoring came at the top of the sixth inning.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Willingham added his team leading 3rd home run in the top of the sixth inning.

Josh Willingham led off the inning with his own solo-homer, followed by back-to-back hits from Hideki Matsui (single) and Ryan Sweeney (double). Mark Ellis then drew a walk to load the bases for Kevin Kouzmanoff. Kouzmanoff hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Matsui. Landon Powell followed Kouzmanoff's sacrifice fly with a double that scored Ryan Sweeney and moved Ellis over to third base. The final run of the inning came on a sacrifice fly by Cliff Pennington, before David DeJesus would ground out to end the rally.

Meanwhile, Minnesota hitters were not able to match the effort of the A's. Brandon McCarthy continued the string of dominant pitching performances that Oakland starters put together in the series.

McCarthy allowed only two runs over 7.1 innings of nine-hit ball. McCarthy struck out five Twins batters and did not allow any base-on-balls.

McCarthy entered the eighth inning working on a shutout before he allowed back-to-back hits to Denard Span and Joe Mauer. Span scored on a ground-out by Justin Morneau, which would end McCarthy's outing.

Jerry Blevins and Grant Balfour worked the remainder of the eighth inning, holding the A's lead. Blevins allowed a two-run homerun to Jim Thome (scoring Mauer and finishing the line for McCarthy), but that would be all the damage the Twins could do.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Brian Fuentes earned his third save for Oakland.

Brian Fuentes earned his third save of the season in a perfect ninth inning.

 

 

Notes:

Ryan Sweeney received his first starts of the season today to give Coco Crisp a day off.  

Tomorrow's game against the White Sox marks the 21st time in MLB history that two pitchers with perfect games match-up against each other (Dallas Braden for Oakland vs. Mark Buerhle for Chicago). 

Trevor Cahill reportedly has agreed to a contract extension with the Athletics. (Courtesy of Jared Feldman)

 

Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for BleacherReport.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @BMcClintock_BR.

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