The Oakland Athletics are once again struggling to score runs while the Minnesota Twins are once again having difficulty keeping them off the scoreboard. It comes as perhaps no surprise then that both teams are in the midst of lengthy losing streaks.
The Athletics have dropped a season-high five in a row heading into Monday's opener of a three-game series against the Twins, who are on the verge of matching their longest skid of the campaign.Oakland (22-26) is hitting a major league-worst .209 this season and its 158 runs scored are 22 fewer than any other AL team. The A's, though, have fared worse than usual during their losing streak, batting .145 while being outscored 25-6.They produced five singles in their latest defeat, 2-0 to the visiting New York Yankees on Sunday."We're beyond pressing at this point," manager Bob Melvin said. "We have to try to relax. We're trying too hard. We're going to try a little easier."Minnesota, meanwhile, has the worst ERA in the majors at 5.47 and has given up a combined 36 runs over its five straight losses. The Twins, though, had one of their better efforts Sunday against visiting Detroit but closer Matt Capps gave up a two-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the ninth inning of a 4-3 defeat, his first blown save in 10 chances."We're a good enough team. We score enough runs. We've got to do a better job of preventing them," reliever Glen Perkins said.The Twins (15-32) might have a better chance of limiting their next opponent with Scott Diamond (3-1, 1.78 ERA) on the mound. The left-hander has not allowed a run in his 14 innings at Target Field this season but could use some more support in this outing.Minnesota tied a season high with three errors during a 6-0 defeat to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, and Diamond was charged with three unearned runs -- five total -- over six innings."He threw the ball well. Unfortunately, we didn't make some plays behind him," manager Ron Gardenhire told the team's website. "We made him throw a few extra pitches, and made him work a little bit harder."After sending a struggling Graham Godfrey back to the minors, the A's are expected to give Travis Blackley (0-0, 0.00) his first major league start since Sept. 29, 2007. The left-hander, acquired off waivers from San Francisco on May 15, has made three relief appearances for Oakland, including one of 3 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.Blackley is 1/3 with a 9.35 ERA in eight major league starts with six of those taking place in 2004 for Seattle. He will face Minnesota for the first time Monday.Diamond is also making his first start against Oakland, and Brandon Inge, expected to be activated from the disabled list Monday, is the only A's player to have faced him, going 2 for 4.Inge had four homers and 16 RBIs in his last six games before going on the DL.Minnesota last dropped six in a row from April 21-27. Oakland's most recent skid of six or longer was 10 games from May 30-June 9.