The scoreboard told an ugly story for the A's on Thursday, but they had bigger concerns than a blowout loss to the American League's worst team.

Starter Tyson Ross lasted just seven pitches before leaving the game with a left oblique strain, which figures to land the right-hander on the disabled list.

That set an ominous tone for an 11-1 defeat to the Minnesota Twins, who rapped out 16 hits and showed no mercy on Oakland's bullpen.

So much for that momentum the A's generated from a two-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels.

They woke up Wednesday tied for first place in the American League West. By Thursday afternoon, the A's (22-22) had dropped two to the lowly Twins (15-27) and faced the prospect of losing another starting pitcher to a significant injury.

Ross was filling in for Dallas Braden, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery Tuesday.

A's assistant general manager David Forst was asked how he felt about his team's pitching depth in light of the injury to Ross, who is scheduled for an MRI exam Friday.

"Not as good as I did five days ago," Forst said. "We'll know more (Friday). From there, we'll all get together and figure what we can do. I don't know a lot of teams that will give up any starting pitchers this time of year."

After allowing Denard Span's leadoff single in the first inning, Ross said he felt something grab on a fastball to No. 2 hitter Trevor Plouffe. He threw one more pitch and called catcher Kurt Suzuki to the mound, motioning to the left side of his body.


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A's manager Bob Geren and head trainer Nick Paparesta also visited. After a few minutes, Ross walked to the dugout, and Geren summoned reliever David Purcey.

"I felt like I had a muscle spasm, like a cramp almost," said Ross, who also suffered the loss to drop to 3-3. "I didn't think anything of it. After the third pitch to the second hitter, it was like, 'I can't pitch with this.' "

"I thought he wanted to go over signs or something," Suzuki said. "I looked at his face. I knew something was wrong, and I said, 'Oh geez.' "

Ross wouldn't speculate on how much time he'll miss. He was particularly disappointed to force the bullpen into early action.

According to the A's, Ross' seven-pitch stint was the shortest start by an Oakland pitcher dating to 1987.

"It's just terrible timing," Ross said. "The staff is going good, and I know we have a lot of games in a row before we have another off-day."

The A's are in the midst of a 20-game stretch and aren't off until June 2.

Purcey held the Twins to one run over 32/3 innings. Craig Breslow allowed Justin Morneau's two-run home run in the fifth that made it 4-0.

Trystan Magnuson gave up six runs in two innings.

With the bullpen spent, fresh arms will be needed for the Giants beginning Friday.

No moves were announced, but Magnuson was packing his belongings and confirmed he was being sent to Triple-A Sacramento.

If the A's place Ross on the D.L., they could call up two relievers for the short term, then decide on a starter for Ross' next turn Tuesday against the Angels.

Joey Devine, who hasn't allowed an earned run in 11 relief appearances with Sacramento, could get the call.

As for potential rotation options, left-hander Josh Outman is one possibility from Sacramento along with right-handers Guillermo Moscoso, Travis Banwart and Graham Godfrey.

Bobby Cramer is on Sacramento's D.L. with a lower-back strain.