MINNEAPOLIS — It was easy to sympathize with A's pitchers over the season's first half, when they consistently kept the team in games with little run support.
And while hitting continues to be a problem since the All-Star break, it's obvious that the A's pitching also has sprung a leak.
Things turned ugly fast Tuesday night at the Metrodome as the Twins jumped on Oakland starter Sean Gallagher quickly and proceeded to a 13-2 rout — the second time in three games Oakland pitchers have been pounded for 13 runs.
The latest loss makes it 32 games the A's have played without winning back-to-back games. Only one time since moving to Oakland have they gone longer without a winning streak, and that was a 34-game stretch in 1977.
But after taking the series opener Monday, a win in today's finale would give the A's their first series victory since July 7-10. A loss would make it the first time since moving to Oakland that they've dropped 11 consecutive series.
"Especially after tonight's game, we'll bounce back (today) and play good and hopefully get a win," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "It's been a long time since we've won a series, and it would make for a nice flight to Seattle."
That's where the A's begin a four-game set Thursday night against the Mariners, and who knows what kind of shape the A's starting rotation will be in.
After Gallagher gave up 11 hits and a career-high 10 earned runs in five innings, it wasn't a surprise to discover he's suffering from what manager Bob Geren is calling a dead arm.
He rarely broke the low 90s on the stadium radar gun. An A's pitcher hadn't given up 10 runs since May 22 of last season, when Colby Lewis surrendered 10 to the Chicago White Sox.
"There's some fatigue in his arm," Geren said. "He might need some time off. We're anticipating some possibilities as far as him maybe missing a start."
Gallagher, 22, missed an Aug. 9 start because of shoulder soreness. He left the team then and was examined in the Bay Area but was cleared to return to the mound. He lasted just four innings against Tampa Bay last Thursday.
"I'm trying to throw, and it just felt like I didn't have anything," said Gallagher, adding he's never experienced similar symptoms before. "The ball felt like a feather. I didn't have anything on it."
Oakland starters have thrown five innings or fewer in 18 of 30 games since the All-Star break.
Gallagher was the centerpiece of the four-player package the A's got from the Chicago Cubs for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. Gallagher looked very good in his first outing with the A's but has a 7.57 ERA in six starts since.
The news about Gallagher came one day after Oakland ace Justin Duchscherer left in the third inning after aggravating an old injury to his right hip. Duchscherer had X-rays Tuesday that came out clear, Geren said, but pitcher will have an MRI today.
The night started out promising enough for the A's as Kurt Suzuki homered leading off the second for a 1-0 lead.
But Brian Buscher (five RBI) drilled a two-run homer as part of the Twins' three-run rally in the second. Carlos Gomez hit a two-run homer off Gallagher to highlight a four-run fifth that made it 10-2.
The Twins kept pouring it on. Case in point: Nick Punto legging out a double in the sixth with the game comfortably in hand and sliding hard into Ellis, causing the second baseman's leg to buckle.
Ellis said he didn't have a problem with it.
"They play the game the right way," Ellis said, "they always have."
Contact Joe Stiglich at firstname.lastname@example.org.