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SEA@OAK: Straily strikes out seven in quality start

The A's are gearing up for a three-game sweep of the Twins at Target Field come Thursday.

Going back to last year, Oakland has won eight straight over Minnesota, outscoring the Twins, 80-26, in that time, including 15-7 in the first two games of this series -- the last of which resulted in a wild 11-inning A's win on Wednesday.

The matinee finale will feature a pair of right-handers in Dan Straily and Mike Pelfrey, both of whom experienced similar outings in their first starts of the year.

Oakland's Straily matched Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez for four innings on Saturday, striking out seven along the way. But the Mariners finally got to Straily in the fifth, sending eight men to the plate while building a three-run lead on two homers. The righty would get through six innings with six hits and a walk allowed.

Straily said after the game he "did a good job of executing the game plan," minus the two home run pitches, although he's shown a propensity for late-inning woes with a career ERA of 5.03 in innings 4-6, compared to a 3.09 mark in the first three innings.

Pelfrey, meanwhile, began his season with four perfect innings against the Indians before it all unraveled. He ended up allowing three runs on three hits, including two homers, over 5 1/3 innings in a losing effort Friday.

"I just kind of lost it," Pelfrey said. "The game just got away from me, and it just fell apart real quick. So it kind of ruins the whole day no matter how those first four innings went."

Pelfrey has faced the A's just once in his career, having allowed seven runs on eight hits over just three innings against them on Sept. 11, 2013. Straily took a no-decision in his only career appearance against Minnesota, a start on Sept. 19, 2013, that resulted in two earned runs spanning 5 2/3 innings.

Twins: Willingham making progress with his wrist
Josh Willingham, who left Sunday's game with a bruised left wrist after being hit by a pitch from Justin Masterson, took swings in the batting cage before Wednesday's game against the A's. His wrist is feeling better, and he's expected to avoid the 15-day disabled list, according to Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony.

"Willingham is still sore," said Antony, "but it doesn't have that biting pain so he's heading in the right direction."

A's: Crisp doubtful for finale; Gentry could join team Thursday
A's manager Bob Melvin called it "a stretch" to have Coco Crisp back in the lineup by Thursday. The A's outfielder received a cortisone shot on his inflamed left wrist on Sunday and potentially won't be available until Friday in Seattle.

That appears to be the day the A's get back Craig Gentry, too. The outfielder could join the team as soon as Thursday but likely won't be activated from the disabled list until Friday at the earliest.

He went 1-for-4 with a walk in a start in right field for Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday and is 4-for-8 with two runs in two games overall for the River Cats. He also played a game with Class-A Stockton on Saturday, going 2-for-4 with a double.

Worth noting:

• The Twins honored manager Ron Gardenhire for reaching 1,000 wins with a special pregame ceremony at Target Field before Wednesday's game against the A's. Gardenhire reached the milestone on Saturday, and became the 60th manager to reach 1,000 wins, and just the 10th do it all with one team.

• Trevor Plouffe extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single in the first inning against the A's on Wednesday. He has reached base 17 times this season for a team-high .487 on-base percentage.

• Josh Donaldson has a 12-game hitting streak against the Twins. He doubled twice in Wednesday's game to up his career average against them to .426 (20-for-47).

• Right-hander Dan Otero utilized 41 pitches in 2 2/3 innings of relief work while racking up the win in Wednesday's game. He has now thrown at least 38 pitches in two of his three appearances this year. Comments