BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Marcus Semien’s eighth inning grand slam broke open a close game Thursday afternoon, leading the A’s to a 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins in an Independence Day matinee at the Coliseum.
Semien, who also hit a solo home run leading off the fifth, blasted the first pitch from the Twins Mike Minor over the wall in left-center for his 13th homer of the year and fourth career grand slam to finish with a career-high tying five RBI’s for the day.
The win was the A’s 12th in their last 16 games, and gave Oakland the three game series against the AL Central leading Twins, their third straight series victory, while moving them within a game of a wildcard spot. The A’s are now a season-high eight games over .500. The loss reduced Minnesota’s lead over Cleveland to six games, it’s smallest margin since May 20th. The Twins finished their first losing road trip of the year with a 2-4 record.
A’s starter Tanner Anderson settled down after a rocky first in which he allowed a run before leaving the bases loaded to pitch into the fifth before leaving with a high pitch count. Wei-Chung Wang came on to throw 2 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his first Major League win. Wang has now turned in scoreless efforts in 10 of his first 12 appearances for the A’s, lowering his ERA to 1.56 over 17 1/3 innings. Oakland catcher Chris Herrmann, who hit a grand slam in his debut Tuesday, went 4-4 in just his third game with the A’s.
Minnesota ace, and newly named All-Star Jose Berrios (8-5, 3.00) was in command early, but the A’s finally got to him for a pair of runs in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead that they’d never relinquish. Berrios allowed three runs and six hits in route to losing his third consecutive decision. Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz added three hits in five at bats in a losing cause.
After the game, the A’s headed north where they’ll begin a weekend series against the Mariners in Seattle tomorrow night. Brett Anderson (8-5, 3.92) is scheduled to take the mound against the M’s Yusei Kikuchi (4-5, 5.12) in the opener.
A’s OF Chad Pinder, who turned an ankle in a pre-game injury Wednesday, is expected to return to action this weekend in Seattle.
Pitcher Liam Hendricks has not allowed a run in his last 13 appearances and in 25 of his last 26 relief appearances.
Matt Olson has homered 17 times in 48 games dating back to May 12th. That ties him for the Major League lead with the Pirates Josh Bell over that span.