Originally posted on Fox Sports North
By ASSOCIATED PRESS  |  Last updated 9/20/13
The Oakland Athletics are closing in on another AL West title, and giving the ball to Bartolo Colon should get them even closer. It could also improve his chances at another AL Cy Young Award. Colon attempts keep the A's rolling against the Minnesota Twins by continuing his strong stretch run Friday night. Oakland (90-63) has won 10 of 13 games to build a 6 12-game lead on second-place Texas in the division chase with nine to play. The A's magic number at back-to-back West crowns is at four after opening this four-game set with an 8-6 win over Minnesota on Thursday. "I know we're close," said center fielder Coco Crisp, who had two hits, including a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth. "We've got to keep the same philosophy. Hopefully we can get there and win this division." Facing the Twins (65-87) may help since the A's have won eight of the past 10 meetings, and turning to Colon (16-6, 2.73 ERA) should improve their odds further. The 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner with Los Angeles, Colon is second in the league in ERA and tied for third in wins. He's been superb over his past four starts, compiling a 1.13 ERA with a 2-1 record. The right-hander has won his last two, yielding one run while striking out 14 in 14 innings. He was dominant again Saturday, outpitching Yu Darvish by fanning seven while scattering seven hits in eight innings of a 1-0 road win over the Rangers. "I think that's probably as high velocity as I've seen him," third baseman Josh Donaldson told the team's official website. Colon is facing the Twins for the first time since a loss with the Chicago White Sox in 2009. Crisp, who has homered in consecutive games while totaling four RBI, could be a factor again. He's 10 for 25 (.400) with three homers while driving in six runs and scoring 10 in his latest six meetings with Minnesota. The Twins have dropped seven of nine, leaving manager Ron Gardenhire three victories shy of becoming the eighth active manager with 1,000. He'll give the ball to Andrew Albers (2-3, 3.81) for the first time against Oakland, and he's in search of his first win since beating Cleveland on Aug. 12. The rookie left-hander is 0-3 with a 5.85 ERA in six starts since, getting charged with a 7-0 defeat to Tampa Bay in his last time out Saturday. He gave up four runs and six hits in four innings. Taking the mound on the road may not help Albers, who has no record in his past two away starts while giving up 10 runs in 7 13 innings.
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