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OAK@TEX: Colon stymies Rangers over eight scoreless

The A's are getting closer to their goal of winning the American League West for a second consecutive season. Their magic number sits at four after an 8-6 win over the Twins on Thursday.

Oakland turns to Bartolo Colon on Friday night as the A's take on the Twins at O.co Coliseum, hoping that number can be whittled down even further.

Colon (16-6, 2.73 ERA) has been on a roll since being reinstated from the disabled list on Aug. 29, going 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA.

He earned a second straight win on Saturday against the Rangers, allowing seven hits in eight innings. Colon also struck out seven and walked only one.

"Boy, that was like mid-June Bartolo," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You could tell he really had great command of his fastball, good velocity, great movement."

Left-hander Andrew Albers (2-3, 3.81 ERA) will be on the hill for the Twins as he faces the A's for the first time in his career.

The rookie took a loss against the Rays on Saturday, allowing four runs on six hits in four innings.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire knows Albers could have his hands full with the A's lineup.

"They have a lot of variety of hitters that can drive a baseball. They can run around the bases. They can do a lot of stuff. They bunt more than they used to and they hit-and-run," Gardenhire said. "They're a very active baseball team and a very talented team."

Twins: Mauer's progress encouraging
• Catcher Joe Mauer is responding positively to treatment for his concussion, general manager Terry Ryan said Thursday. He believes that Mauer could return to the team as early as Monday.

"Slowly but surely he's getting better, and today was one of the better days," Ryan said. "That's better than what I've been telling you. He's making some progress."

He's been working out at home since suffering a concussion off a foul tip on Aug. 19 but is expected to return to Target Field on Friday. Both the length and intensity of his workouts have increased, Ryan said, and his symptoms have lessened.

A's: Cespedes could return Friday
• Yoenis Cespedes was out of the starting lineup against the Twins on Thursday because of a cortisone shot he received after Wednesday's game to diminish the pain in his right shoulder.

Cespedes, diagnosed with tendinitis in the shoulder on Tuesday after injuring it around two weeks ago, could be back in the lineup as soon as Friday.

When he does return, Cespedes is expected to continue DHing for at least a day or two before testing his shoulder in the outfield.

"We want him in the outfield, and we want him to throw," Melvin said. "Sometimes that speeds up the process. He has been feeling better with it as of late, but we felt this could speed it up even more so and give us a better chance to get him in the outfield sooner than later."

Worth noting
• The Twins have gone 19-11 against the AL West this season, winning nine of their last 14 games.

• A's starting pitchers have allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of the last 12 games.

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