Bullpen, defense step up in win over Twins

Six relievers turn in 8 1/3 scoreless; K. Davis, Chapman flash leather

July 31st, 2017

OAKLAND -- It's been an adventurous season for the A's when they turn the game over to the bullpen.

But on Sunday, with removed with two outs in the fourth, the bullpen locked down the Twins for 8 1/3 innings and gave the A's hitters a chance to come back from down 5-0, ultimately pulling out a 6-5 win in 12 innings at the Coliseum.

"That was amazing," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "For kind of a new group and a new dynamic, using guys a little differently. You know when you have to go out there, especially when you replace the starter, you know you can't give up much or you're going to end up being in a bad spot.

"Every one of them knew they had to keep the damage to a minimum and [not] give up any more runs, and they did it."

The A's entered Sunday with a 4.83 bullpen ERA, which was tied for the third-worst in the Majors. The A's also traded two of their better relievers -- left-hander and right-hander -- earlier in July, stretching the beleaguered bunch out even further.

But Sunday was a bright moment for them, beginning with right-hander . After Cotton walked in a run for his fifth allowed of the afternoon, Melvin called on Castro to face Twins slugger . Castro got Sano to pop out on the first pitch and proceeded to throw two additional scoreless innings, something his manager called "huge."

"He needed to hold it down. The game wasn't going in the direction we wanted it to, and when he comes in, it's the bases loaded and he's got a pretty tough guy to get out and he gets them out," Melvin said. "Then he kind of stalls the game out, where the momentum kind of came back to us and didn't get away from us further. A lot of great bullpen performances today, but I don't know that any are better than him."

After Castro, , , and each pitched a scoreless inning as the A's came back to tie the game and force extra innings. With unavailable on the day, came on in the 11th as the last reliever and pitched two scoreless innings.

It wasn't without help, though, as the A's defense stepped up and made some big plays. Entering Sunday with 87 errors committed, the most in all of baseball, the A's saw make two impressive plays in left field in the sixth and eighth to keep the game close.

Then in the 10th, rookie third baseman made a sensational grab near the A's dugout, racing all the way through foul territory to make the catch before leaping over the coolers and ducking his head under the top of the dugout.

"KD's catches were fantastic. Both down in the corner, one foul, one fair, which is going to make it a little different," Melvin said. "I don't know how Chapman got over the coolers and under the dugout, but he said he knew, once he got close, what he was going to do. Pretty athletic kid."