OAKLAND -- Asked what he knows about the starting pitcher the A’s are facing tonight, manager Bob Melvin shrugged and answered: "Not a lot." It’s Trevor May, a 24-year-old right-hander, who’s making his major-league debut for the Minnesota Twins.
May is 8-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 17 starts this season for Triple-A Rochester, with 91 strikeouts and 37 walks in 95 1/3 innings. He’s a Longview, Wash., native, and tall -- listed at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds.
Melvin said the A’s have some video of May’s minor-league starts, and some data on his pitch breakdowns, but the A’s hitters tonight will largely be learning about May as they go. That unfamiliarity likely favors May in the early going, and it’s on the A’s hitters to pick up movement on his pitches as quickly as possible.
"He throws downhill," Melvin said of having watched May’s video. "He does have four pitches he relies on, two a little bit more so … likes his fastball, does have a tight little curveball and throws his changeup some.
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"There’s an expectation on our end how he’s going to use them, but you never know until you get into the game."
Here’s one area where Coco Crisp is very valuable at the top of the lineup. Crisp is smart and patient at the plate, and skilled in fouling off pitches to prolong counts, so there’s a chance the rest of the A’s hitters will see much of what May has to offer in Crisp’s first at-bat. This is the lineup that will face May:
And the Twins’ lineup against A’s starter Jeff Samardzija:
* A few injury updates: Kyle Blanks (calf) begins his rehab assignment with the Triple-A River Cats today in Reno. Melvin said Blanks is scheduled to play games at first base, in the outfield and at DH with Sacramento. He’s in tonight’s lineup at first base and batting third.
Nick Punto (hamstring) is still "working through stiffness" and has not resumed baseball activity, Melvin said. There’s no timetable for Punto’s return, and he will not accompany the A’s on their upcoming road trip.
Craig Gentry (hand) can play catch but still can’t grip a bat without discomfort. Until that changes there won’t be a timetable for Gentry’s return, either, and Melvin said when he is able to hit again Gentry will probably play a rehab stint before rejoining the A’s.
* Melvin said Jed Lowrie is probably not 100 percent with his bruised right index finger, and is still getting treatment, but looked OK defensively on Friday night, so he’s in the lineup again tonight at shortstop.
Eric Sogard, who was filling in for Lowrie at shortstop, is batting .333 since the All-Star Break and had a big two-run double Friday night. Sogard’s hitting better lately has helped mitigate Lowrie’s brief absence as well as that of Punto, and recently he has been starting over Alberto Callaspo -- significant given Sogard started just twice from July 1-20.
* It’s not quite the same, as Samardzija has been a known commodity in the majors for a few years now, but the Twins are nearly as unfamiliar with him as the A’s are with May. Samardzija has faced the Twins only once in his career, back in 2012 with the Cubs. It’s one Samardzija probably doesn’t remember fondly -- he gave up eight runs over 3 2/3 innings in an 11-3 loss.