MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With a game-time temperature of 94 degrees on a humid, muggy evening, starting pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Chris Bassitt had to fight dripping sweat as much as opposing batters.
Oakland’s leadoff hitter, Marcus Semien, got out of the heat quickly in the first inning and then continued to give the Athletics reason to feel good.
Semien hit the third pitch of the game for his 15th home run of the season, and later doubled and tripled as Oakland kept rolling, topping the Minnesota Twins 5-3 on a sweltering Friday night.
“He seems likes he’s been locked in all year, really,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Leading the game off with a homer after last night I think really kind of put the guys in a little better spirits. Marcus has his nose to the grindstone all the time. He’s having a terrific year all the way around.”
The temperature at first pitch was tied for the second-hottest start in Target Field’s 10-year history, trailing only a 97-degree reading on July 16, 2012.
Players appeared to have trouble at times gripping the ball. Odorizzi, Minnesota’s starter, was sweating heavily as he gave up two first-inning runs. During a first-inning mound visit, Odorizzi took off his glove and peppered both arms with the rosin bag.
“It was only like pitching in a rain forest,” Odorizzi said. “I was taking the rosin bag and going up and down my arms so I could stop the sweat coming from my hand because I was just pouring sweat. I changed my jersey after the first inning, my hat. I just took it all off and came back fresh. I was pretty drenched out there and I know a lot of guys were in the same place.”
Khris Davis hit a pair of RBI singles as the A’s won for the 20th time in 26 games. The AL Central-leading Twins have lost four of five.
Bassitt (7-4) allowed two earned runs in five innings. He said the weather affected the grip on his curveball, mentioning one slow curve that got away and hit Nelson Cruz.
“I think we all kind of felt the hot,” Bassitt said. “It was dripping wet out there, to say the least.”
The weather, which cooled a bit during the game, didn’t bother A’s All-Star closer Liam Hendriks, who earned his seventh save by retiring the final five batters, striking out three.
“I grew up in Australia,” Hendriks said. “This is nothing. And I live in Florida, so the humidity’s nothing.”
For Odorizzi, the first was again his downfall. Fourteen of the 37 runs the All-Star has allowed this season have come in the opening inning.
Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run homer in the third for the Twins.
“We have to find ways to find some holes and maybe hit some balls a little harder, but I’m happy with the types of at-bats that we’ve had,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Again, this is cyclical and we’re going to go through a season where things are going to work out and things aren’t.”
Davis had the first of his run-scoring singles in the first and drove in Ramón Laureano during a two-run sixth off reliever Ryne Harper (3-2).
Laureano reached base three times and is hitting .455 with six homers and 12 RBIs in 13 games in July.
Athletics: 3B Matt Chapman didn’t start for the second straight game as he deals with left ankle soreness, but he came on as a defensive replacement in the ninth. Melvin said he’d be in the lineup Saturday. … LHP Sean Manaea, out all season as he recovers from left shoulder surgery, will move his rehab to Triple-A Las Vegas where he’s expected to push his next start to around 70 pitches. Melvin said Manaea will make a few starts for Las Vegas and try to get his pinch count to 90 pitches.
Twins: 2B Jonathan Schoop missed his third straight game with an abdominal strain. Baldelli said Schoop was going to swing and take groundballs before the game. … OF Byron Buxton, on the seven-day disabled list with concussion-like symptoms, used Friday as a recovery day following some testing on Thursday. Baldelli said Buxton is “going to take part in some baseball activities this weekend.”
All-Star RHP José Berríos (8-5, 3.10 ERA) starts for Minnesota on Saturday night and is opposed by Oakland LHP Brett Anderson (9-5, 3.79). Berríos has allowed three runs in each of his past two starts, including a five-inning performance at Oakland on July 4. Anderson surrendered two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Chicago White Sox in his first start since the All-Star break.