The Oakland Athletics look to continue their success tonight as they square off with the Minnesota Twins in the second test of a three-game set at Target Field.
Oakland struck out 15 times in its second-half opener on Friday, but still managed to come out on top, 6-3. The A's won six of their last seven before the All-Star break and now have a 44-43 record after their victory in the series opener.
The Athletics are now over the .500 mark for the first time since May 17, when they were 20-19. Oakland still has a long way to go, as it is in third place in the American League West and trails the Texas Rangers by nine games.
"The number means you win as many as you lose, and so the goal is to play over that," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin. "When you're below it, certainly it's nice to get to it, but then you have to raise the bar and not settle on .500."
Jonny Gomes had an offensive outburst in Friday's triumph for Oakland as he crushed a grand slam and knocked in a total of five runs. Brandon Inge also drove in a run for the A's, while A.J. Griffin notched his first big league victory.
Yoenis Cespedes was moved to the designated hitter spot in Friday's game due to a sprained left thumb. He went 2-for-4 at the plate and scored two runs. First baseman Chris Carter also scored two runs in the win on Friday. The seldom used Carter is 7-for-20 with three home runs and two walks in 2012.
Left-hander Tom Milone will take the hill for the A's tonight. The southpaw struck out a career-high nine batters in the team's 4-1, 11-inning victory over Seattle his last time out. Milone is 5-1 with a 1.03 ERA at home, but just 3-5 with a 5.98 ERA on the road.
Milone will be making his first appearance against the Twins.
Minnesota will hope to get the same caliber performance out of Cole De Vries as it did from Francisco Liriano on Friday. Liriano struck out a career-high 15 batters and sliced through Oakland's lineup with the exception of Gomes's grand slam.
De Vries pitched seven shutout innings against the powerful Rangers his last time out, but he ended up with a no-decision as the Twins lost, 4-3. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six games this season. He has struck out 21 batters and allowed just eight to reach base on balls in 2012.
Former Athletic Josh Willingham hit two home runs and drove in all of Minnesota's runs on Friday.
"I got a couple good pitches to hit," said Willingham of his two-homer game. "I kind of got into counts in the game early and I think that helped me the rest of the game."
He has now hit a home run in each of his last three games at Target Field.
Joe Mauer went 2-for-4 on Friday and is batting .351 with one home run and five RBI in July.
The Twins swept a three-game series at home over the Athletics in late May and have taken six of the last nine encounters overall.