The Twins were one out away from their first win in six days, but back-to-back errors by Minnesota in the 10th led to the Athletics extending their win streak to 11 games, instead, in a 13-12 loss.
"If you don't find a way to put a run on the board, you're gonna end up losing a lot of those games,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Doing everything possible to put that first run on the board I think is instrumental to finding ways to win those games."
In the slugfest at Oakland Coliseum on Wednesday, Byron Buxton wasted no time in the top of the 10th to make it Minnesota’s lead, once again. With the extra-innings automatic runner on second and one out, Buxton crushed a fly ball, with an exit velocity of 111 mph, to left field to take a 12-10 lead.
The Twins haven’t been hot as of late. They have dropped nine of their past 10 games. Baldelli acknowledged the team was in a rut after being on the receiving end of a doubleheader sweep Tuesday.
Baldelli stressed that the losses had no bearing on the next day, that the Twins can turn it around any day. Wednesday began to look like that day with an offense that found its groove and a bullpen that stepped up for Kenta Maeda, who allowed seven runs on eight hits through three innings.
But the errors were too costly for the Twins to get another chance to salvage the game.
"We're finding ways to not win games, even games that we should be winning," Baldelli said. "Our guys continue to fight and continue to play hard. We got to the point in the last [inning] where we needed to make one or two routine plays, and we weren't able to do it, and I think it really comes down to that. It's as simple as that. I think we played a game that we should have won, and we're not winning those games right now.”
Minnesota’s core group of players -- Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz and Buxton -- were the force that powered the Twins to keep up with the game’s eight lead changes. The 2-3-4 hitters of the Minnesota lineup went a combined 9-for-17 at the plate with eight RBIs, seven runs scored and four home runs.
Buxton’s extra-innings homer was nearly as impressive as his diving catch in the sixth that preserved Minnesota’s diminished 10-9 lead. With the tying run on second, Buxton traveled 60 feet in 3.8 seconds to snag a line drive with a 35 percent catch probability, according to Statcast.
"I wouldn't say Bux's feeling 100 percent right now, but he's still going out there and just taking over the game at times,” Baldelli said. “An unbelievable catch to get us out of something in center field, and then he comes up with just a monster two-run homer right when we need it. I wish I was sitting here telling you those are game-winning plays, because they really should have been.”
The sour end to a hectic road trip that consisted of four losses, three postponed games and a doubleheader sweep is finally over. The Twins head home to Target Field for a three-game weekend series against the Pirates for a fresh start.