Jarrod Parker tries to extend his career-best winning streak to 10 games on Tuesday when the Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Parker hasn't lost since May 22 and is 9-0 with a 2.59 ERA over his last 18 starts. The right-hander outdueled Texas' Yu Darvish his last time out, as he surrendered two runs and five hits in six innings to improve to 11-6, while lowering his ERA to 3.57.
"I saw that last year," Brandon Moss said of Parker's success. "Down the stretch, there was nobody that pitched better than him. Start-in, start-out, you knew what you were going to get. He was going to throw strikes, he wasn't going to walk people, he was going to put the ball in play, and I think that's what was more surprising early in the year, those struggles he was having. Because that's not him. Once he got comfortable, he's been the same guy. That's who he is. He is an ace."
Oakland continued to roll this weekend, as it took the final three games in its four-game set with the lowly Houston Astros. The A's have won eight of 10 overall and now sit two games in front of the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Minnesota, meanwhile, also enters on a bit of a high note after winning a makeup game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Monday, as Trevor Plouffe drove in three runs in the 6-3 triumph. Josmil Pinto went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while crossing the plate twice and helping the Twins snap a four-game skid.
"We missed a lot of opportunities, but we came up with some big ones at the end," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
On Tuesday the Twins will rely on righty Liam Hendriks, who is 1-2 on the year with a 5.28 ERA. Hendriks did not get a decision, was awful on Wednesday in Houston, as the Astros rocked him for five runs (3 earned) and eight hits in just 4 1/3 innings.
"It was just embarrassing," Hendriks said. "I got behind guys. I left balls up. Once I was ahead, I was fine. I just wasn't ahead very often, and they made me pay for it. I got lackadaisical and just wasn't myself. I need to get back to getting ahead early and keeping the ball down."
Oakland was 5-4 last season against the Twins.