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Twins start series vs. floundering A's ahead of trade deadline

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Two teams that could be trade partners will meet on the field when the contending Minnesota Twins and floundering Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series Friday night.

Recently acquired left-hander Jaime Garcia of the Twins will face A's rookie Daniel Gossett in the series opener.

The teams enter play Friday on similar downward spirals, but for different reasons.

The Twins (49-51) have played 14 straight games against fellow playoff hopefuls, losing 10. They are coming off a hard-fought, three-game sweep in Los Angeles at the hands of the Dodgers.

No team is in greater need of a break in the schedule, and the Twins get one. Their next five games are against two of the worst teams in the West -- they follow the Oakland trip with a two-game stopover in San Diego -- followed by a four-game series against struggling Texas to open a homestand.

"It happens. Nothing we can do about it," Twins right-hander Ervin Santana said after Wednesday's walk-off loss in Los Angeles, a game he left with a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning. "We have to go to Oakland and keep our minds positive."

That shouldn't be a problem. The A's are coming off an even more demoralizing series in which they blew two ninth-inning leads and lost consecutive games on walk-offs.

They were swept in the four-game series in Toronto to complete a 1-6 trip.

The late-game meltdowns can't be considered a surprise. The A's (44-57), well out of playoff contention, dealt two of their top relievers -- left-hander Sean Doolittle and righty Ryan Madson -- to Washington for a three-player package that featured two low-level minor-leaguers.

The next to go could be staff ace Sonny Gray, who is scheduled to pitch Sunday's series finale. The trade deadline is Monday afternoon.

"It can be difficult at times," Gray said Tuesday about taking the mound amid all the speculation. "We'll just have to see what happens."

The Twins have been buyers so far, adding the veteran Garcia earlier in the week. The A's have several veteran pieces other than Gray potentially available this weekend if things go well for Minnesota in the series and it believes it's still in the playoff chase.

Gossett pitched the A's most recent win, a 3-2 road triumph last Sunday against the New York Mets. He has never faced the Twins in eight career starts.

The Twins bombed A's pitching for eight home runs and 21 runs while taking two of three in Minnesota in May.

But two of the eight home run hitters -- Miguel Sano (sore left wrist) and Byron Buxton (strained left groin) -- have been out of the lineup and are no sure things to be available Friday.

Garcia will be making his Twins debut after having been acquired along with catcher Anthony Recker from the Atlanta Braves for 19-year-old right-hander Huascar Ynoa.

Garcia has faced the A's just once in his career, suffering the loss last season while allowing five runs in seven innings (6.43 ERA).

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