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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, May 28th (All times eastern)

Oakland Athletics (22-26) at Minnesota Twins (15-32), 2:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - Travis Blackley (0-0, 0.00) Minnesota - Scott Diamond (3-1, 1.78)

(Sports Network) - The Oakland Athletics seem to have slipped back into that offensive rut that plagued them at the start of the season. Today, they could again struggle to score runs, as they go up against Scott Diamond in the opener of a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

Oakland enters this series having lost a season-high five in a row after getting swept in a three-game set by the New York Yankees that saw it cross the plate only five times. In fact, the A's have managed just six runs in their last five games and are batting just .145 during the drought.

"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."

Oakland's lineup, which managed just five hits in a 2-0 loss to the Yankees on Sunday, could get a boost tonight, as Brandon Inge is expected to be activated off the disabled list. Inge had four home runs and 16 RBI in his last six games before being sidelined with a groin injury.

The A's have been shut out eight times this season - four in their last 12 games - and have been held to two runs or less eight of the past 12 contests.

Tonight, the A's turn to lefty Travis Blackley, who was claimed off waivers from San Francisco back on May 15. He's made three relief appearances for Oakland, but tonight's assignment will be his first big league start since Sept. 29, 2007.

In eight major league starts Blackley is 1-3 with a 9.35 ERA.

"[Starting is] something I've done all my life in the minor leagues anyway, and before this season my big league experience had only been starting," Blackley said. "I'm treating it as the same thing, like I'm coming in and trying to eat up innings. That's going to be how I look at it."

Minnesota, meanwhile, also comes into this contest having lost five in a row after a three-game sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers this weekend, including a heartbreaking 4-3 loss in Sunday's finale.

The Twins held a 3-2 lead in the ninth, but Matt Capps (0-3) blew his first save of the year when Miguel Cabrera' two-run blast put the Tigers ahead.

"It was a little tough to swallow getting swept by these guys," Justin Morneau said. "We had plenty of chances today, just didn't get the job done."

The Twins have a terrific shot at getting back on track tonight, as they send Scott Diamond to the hill. Diamond absorbed his first loss of the season on Wednesday in Chicago, as the White Sox reached him for five runs (two earned) and nine hits in six innings to drop him to 3-1, while raising his ERA to a still respectable 1.78.

"I think I need to continue to mature a little bit in that sense," Diamond said. "I haven't had a problem throwing strikes so far, so I think I need to learn to expand the zone, rather than just constrict it to the strike zone. That's just an adjustment I need to continue to make."

Diamond has never faced the A's.

05/28 10:50:10 ET