Twins fall apart

Published 8:21 am Thursday, September 12, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — In a season where much has gone wrong, the Minnesota Twins had an inning, and a night, where seemingly everything went wrong.

Jed Lowrie’s foul ball that turned into a two-run double after umpires changed the call highlighted a 10-run fourth inning as the Oakland Athletics pounded the Twins 18-3 on Wednesday night.

Every Oakland starter had at least one hit, one run and one RBI as the A’s recorded a season-high 22 hits and extended their lead over Texas in the AL West to three games.

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With runners on second and third and three runs already in, Lowrie lined a ball down the line in the fourth that first-base umpire Bill Miller ruled foul as he danced out of the way.

Lowrie pointed at the ground inside the white line where he thought the ball hit. Oakland manager Bob Melvin came out to argue, and Lowrie was eventually awarded a two-run double after the entire umpire crew huddled and changed the call.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected by Miller after a long argument, the fifth time he’s been tossed this season and the 67th ejection of his career. Fans at Target Field sarcastically cheered Miller when he gave the foul signal after Brandon Moss, the next batter, lined a foul ball down the first-base line.

“A bad night, obviously, all the way around. We didn’t pitch very well, they beat the crap out of us, the ball went flying everywhere,” Gardenhire said in brief post-game comments. He declined discussion of his early departure from the game. “We’re not going to talk about anything else. I’m not going to talk about all that crap. Can’t do anything about it now.”

Sonny Gray (3-3), who had received fewer than four runs of support over his last six starts, struck out seven in five innings for the win.

In the fifth, Josh Reddick of the A’s drove a ball off the top of the wall in the right-field corner that Miller ruled a home run. The call was overturned after a replay review — the first at Target Field this season — and Reddick had to trot back out of the dugout to second base.

Mike Pelfrey (5-12) was removed with no outs in the fourth, before all the theatrics that followed Lowrie’s hit. He allowed seven runs and eight hits and has won just once since July 11. Relievers Josh Roenicke and Ryan Pressly combined to allow six runs and six hits before the fourth inning was finally finished.

“I don’t care what level you’re at. You can’t fall behind in the count and then throw balls out over the middle of the plate, which obviously I did a lot,” Pelfrey said. “It gets to the point where hitting becomes contagious and obviously those guys caught on fire there in the fourth. It was hard to stop.”

Eric Fryer, called up from Triple-A Rochester on Monday, hit his first career home run in the sixth to give the few fans remaining at Target Field something to cheer about.

“Hopefully I’ll forget the score, but I’ll remember the home run and I’ll remember the swing, and I got the ball back,” Fryer said, after the Twins allowed season highs in runs and hits.

NOTES: Twins GM Terry Ryan said C Joe Mauer “didn’t have a good day” so the team sent him home early. Mauer, out since Aug. 20, had been making progress in returning from a concussion. … Reddick was not in the starting lineup for the second straight day after being activated from the 15-day DL with a right wrist injury. He entered the game in the bottom of the fourth. … Baseball America selected 19-year-old Twins CF Byron Buxton as its minor league player of the year on Wednesday. “Couldn’t be more proud of the kid. Heck, that’s quite the year he’s had,” Ryan said. Buxton hit .334 with 49 extra base hits and 55 stolen bases during stints at Single-A Fort Myers and Low-A Cedar Rapids this season. … Scott Diamond (5-10, 5.52 ERA) will make his first start for the Twins since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester in Thursday’s series finale. A.J. Griffin (13-9, 3.91) will start for Oakland.