Every team has them. That series where nothing goes right. The pitching isn’t getting it done but you make up for that by not hitting or making a bunch of errors. Or both.
Such was the case for Billy Martin and the Oakland A’s as they visited Bloomington, MN for a three-game series against the Twins in April of 1980. Oakland had won six games in a row entering the series and held a half-game lead in the A.L. West but things got away from them in Minnesota.
In game one of the series, a fan in the stands hurled marshmallows at Martin, which resulted in Martin hurling homophobic slurs in his post-game press conference. The Twins won 10-3 behind Jerry Koosman. Then things got worse for Oakland.
Minnesota took game two of the series 5-1, which set up the finale on Sunday afternoon. Brian Kingman was the Oakland starter and took the mound hoping to end the brief skid and get the A’s back on track. Unfortunately for Kingman, he didn’t get out of the first inning. Kingman faced six batters and five of the reached, and he was lifted for relief pitcher Dave Hamilton.
Hamilton faced eight batters and seven of them reached before he was lifted. When there are two outs in the first inning and you’re on your third pitcher of the game, it’s going to be a bad day. The Twins put 10 on the board in the first inning.
That should have been plenty for Minnesota starter Geoff Zahn, but that wasn’t the case. But on the bright side, Zahn gave up fourteen hits and eight runs in four and one-third innings and didn’t get a loss. In fact, he was in line for a win despite allowing eight straight batters to reach in the same inning. Doug Corbett relieved Zahn and got the final two outs of the 5th to escape the jam.
Minnesota ended up winning the game 20-11 but even that doesn’t tell the story of a truly bizarre game. Consider the following:
- Oakland outhit Minnesota 22-20
- Minnesota scored 20 runs and had 3 extra-base hits
- Oakland hit the only homer of the game and it came in the 9th inning
- Fifteen players played the entire game and only two didn’t record a hit. Naturally they were both Twins.
For Billy and the A’s, it was a weekend to forget. They were swept three games to none and outscored 35-15. Two of their three starting pitchers failed to make it out of the first inning, Martin had marshmallows thrown at him and they left town a game and a half behind the White Sox.