Anderson's superb start spoiled in loss to Twins
MINNEAPOLIS – Brett Anderson was rolling through the Minnesota Twins lineup, breaking bats and changing speeds for seven brilliant innings while the Oakland Athletics were clinging to a 1-0 lead.
In the blink of an eye, it all fell apart in the eighth inning, and Anderson watched another superb outing swirl down the drain.
Joe Mauer and Denard Span delivered RBI singles in the eighth to lift the Minnesota Twins to a 2-1 victory over the Athletics in their home opener on Friday.
In two starts this season, Anderson has received three runs of support. He gave up one run in six innings against Seattle to start the season, but his bullpen and bats failed him in a 5-2 loss to the Mariners.
"You just try to match their guy," Anderson said. "(Carl) Pavano gave up a run in the first and you just try to match him pitch for pitch after that. You give credit to him. He held us in check the rest of the way and I wasn't able to get it done in the eighth. It's frustrating from my standpoint that I wasn't able to hold the lead."
Anderson (0-1) gave up two runs on eight hits and struck out five in eight innings. Three of those hits never reached the outfield and he retired 14 in a row at one point.
Pavano (1-1) gave up one run on four hits in eight innings to get the win.
"He pitched his butt off," A's catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "He kept them off balance, hit his spots, changed speeds well. We should have got a win for him."
After David DeJesus's sacrifice fly gave Anderson a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the young lefty mowed down the Twins, keeping them off balance with an assortment of off-speed pitches. He faced the minimum number of hitters in innings 2-7, getting double plays to end the sixth and seventh.
"That's their ace out there on the mound," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He really kept our hitters at bay for a while."
That 1-0 lead felt like a five-run advantage the way Anderson was throwing when he took the ball to start the eighth inning. He gave up another infield single to Danny Valencia with one out, then got Luke Hughes to pop out to left field. But pinch-hitter Jason Kubel hooked a single down the right field line and Span and Mauer each followed with run-scoring hits to put the Twins ahead.
"I made a good pitch to Kubel inside," Anderson said. "The pitch that Span hit was the same one that broke his bat before, it just seemed a tick out of the reach of gloves. That's the way baseball is sometimes."
Joe Nathan gave up one hit in the ninth for his first save at Target Field. He missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Pavano is supposed to be the old, steady hand in the Twins' rotation, a guy who doesn't get rattled by charged-up environments like the home opener. But he got off to a shaky start in the first inning, walking Daric Barton, bouncing a wild pitch about five feet in front of home plate and then allowing Barton to take third when he threw a pickoff attempt into center field.
Barton scored on a sacrifice fly from DeJesus. The Athletics have held a lead in every game this season, but have just two victories to show for it.
"As far as the offense, it's early," A's manager Bob Geren said. "It's obviously very, very encouraging to see the starting pitching we're getting, and how deep they are going into the game. They're giving us a chance to win every single night."
NOTES: DeJesus, who played the previous eight seasons in Kansas City, has a 23-game hitting streak against the Twins. He is hitting .319 (107 for 335) in 83 career games against Minnesota. ... The Twins announced that 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka's broken left fibula will not need a cast or surgery. There is still no timetable for his return. ... Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said RHP Kevin Slowey was scheduled to get an MRI on Friday on his sore pitching arm and was not available out of the bullpen. ... Geren said he planned to get OF Ryan Sweeney in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He hasn't started a game yet this season.