BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
In a game with six lead changes, the A’s fought back with three runs in the tenth inning to pull out an improbable hard-fought 13–12 win over the Minnesota Twins to stretch their winning streak to 11 games.
The back-and-forth affair featured a combined seven homers, 31 hits and 13 pitchers. The game came to a dramatic end with the Twins committing defensive errors on consecutive plays while just an out away from victory, allowing three runs to score without the benefit of a hit after scoring two runs in the top of the tenth.
After allowing the A’s to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Matt Chapman, Minnesota took a 12-10 lead in the tenth when Byron Buxton connected for a towering two-run home run to deep left-center field off of Lou Trivino. But in the bottom of the inning, with Twins closer Alex Colomé on the mound for a second inning, the wheels fell off for the two-time defending AL Central division champs.
With the Twins an out away from the win, Colomé walked Seth Brown and Elvis Andrus to load the bases. Then, Travis Blankenhorn, who entered the game in the top of the inning as a pinch runner for Josh Donaldson, bobbled a Mark Canha ground ball that would’ve ended the game, allowing Chapman to score to cut the lead to 12-11.
That set the stage for Ramón Laureano’s bouncer down third that Luis Arraez sailed into the Twins bullpen, unleashing a delirious A’s celebration as the team streamed out of their dugout to mob Laureano, and each other, between first base and the pitchers mound after Tony Kemp scored the tying run followed closely by Elvis Andrus with the game winner.
Following the game, an exhilarated A’s manager Bob Melvin said “Not only did we get [beaten] the first six games, we got trounced. To come back and put together this type of run, it shows the fight of this team. They never got down.”
The entertaining contest started out with Minnesota’s Donaldson, the second batter of the game, crushing a Frankie Montas fastball for his first homer of the year to put the Twins up 1-0 with their first run of the series. It was the first of four hits on the day for the 2015 AL MVP, who started his career with Oakland.
But the Athletics didn’t wait long before making Twins starter Kenta Maeda miserable. They jumped on the 2020 AL Cy Young runner-up for seven runs in just three innings as his ERA ballooned to 6.11 for the young season.
The main perpetrator was Matt Olson, who followed up his grand slam Tuesday with another pair of long balls against Maeda that hastened his exit after just 51 pitches. Olson went 3-5 on the day with three RBI’s to raise his once anemic average to .316. Seth Brown also connected against the Minnesota ace later in the inning for his third homer of the year to give the A’s a 7-4 lead after three.
Minnesota also had its share of offensive heroes. 40 year-old Nelson Cruz ripped a pair of pitches from Montas into the bleachers, increasing his career total to 423 home runs on the way to a four RBI day. And Buxton, along with a diving highlight reel catch in centerfield, had three hits on the day including his blast that looked like it might provide the winning margin until his team’s defense betrayed them, sending them down to their ninth loss in ten games.
After a day off on Thursday, the A’s will start a seven-game road trip with a weekend series in Baltimore. Cole Irvin (1-2, 4.60) is scheduled to take the mound against the Orioles Jorge Lopez (1-2, 8.56) in the opener at Camden Yards Friday evening at 4:05pm.
Oakland is now all alone in first place in the AL West, just ten days after being in sole possession of last place. The were were 5 1/2 games out of first on April 8th.
The A’s 11-game winning streak is tied for their longest since the 2002 Moneyball A’s won 20 in a row. Oakland also became the first team in MLB history to start a season 0-6 and then win 11 in a row at any point in the same season.
Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep against the Twins was just the second doubleheader sweep for the A’s since 1998, and their first since a a 2017 sweep against the Astros. Their doubleheader shutout was just the third since the franchise moved to Oakland, and their first since 1974.
Matt Olson’s grand slam on Tuesday was the 200th in Oakland history.