The Oakland Athletics face the Minnesota Twins Thursday in a lunch-time series finale. Tyson Ross looks to improve to 4-2 as he squares off against Nick Blackburn. Ross will be making his sixth start in place of injured starter Dallas Braden. It appears as though Braden will be on the shelf for the remainder of the season, and Ross has done enough to earn the fifth spot in the rotation for the foreseeable future. After a tough first start in which he gave up three runs in only 4 1/3 innings, Ross has given up five earned runs in 26 2/3 innings over four starts. The A’s are 3-1 in those starts.
Coco Crisp is back in the lineup after dealing with a family matter yesterday. Crisp is having a very solid season thus far with a line of .279/.308/.429 and is tied for the AL lead with 13 stolen bases. If Crisp can remain healthy (a big question mark last season), he provides an excellent spark at the top of the A’s lineup.
The big change today has Ryan Sweeney manning left field in place of Josh Willingham and hitting in the third spot in the lineup. Sweeney was 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored to improve his batting average to .333. Sweeney has been getting relatively limited playing time but has been the A’s most consistent hitter in those starts.