OAKLAND -- The Twins keep finding themselves on the wrong side of history.They tied a franchise record set in 1964 with their 15th walk-off loss of the season and their second in as many nights, as closer Trevor Hildenberger threw a game-ending wild pitch with the bases loaded in the
OAKLAND -- The Twins keep finding themselves on the wrong side of history.
They tied a franchise record set in 1964 with their 15th walk-off loss of the season and their second in as many nights, as closer Trevor Hildenberger threw a game-ending wild pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning for a 3-2 loss to the A's on Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum. With one more road game left, Minnesota is one walk-off loss away from tying the Major League record, shared by several clubs. It was the second time this year they were walked off in consecutive games, joining Aug. 8-9 in Cleveland.
"It's tough," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I like that we're fighting. I like that we're playing tough. I think guys are grinding as well as can be considered as far as the state of the season. And a lot of young players are learning on the fly and it's probably a good experience for them. It's disappointing we can't find a way to win those close games on the road."
Hildenberger was hurt by a leadoff double from Stephen Piscotty but struck out Ramon Laureano for the first out. But after an error from shortstop Jorge Polanco, the Twins opted to load the bases with one out. Hildenberger struck out Mark Canha on 11 pitches but uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering he threw to Matt Chapman to end the game.
"The ball stuck to my hand a little bit too far," Hildenberger said. "I don't usually miss by that much with fastballs, especially the first pitch of the at-bat. It's pretty frustrating that I held on to the ball too long in that situation."
Willians Astudillo, who went 3-for-4, helped spark the Twins in both the third and seventh innings, as he doubled to lead off the third against right-hander Mike Fiers and scored on a sacrifice fly from Joe Mauer. After Ehire Adrianza doubled with one out against reliever Jeurys Familia in the seventh, Astudillo brought home Adrianza with a single to left and went to second on the throw. But he was stranded there with Gregorio Petit popping out to short and Mauer flying out to center.
Right-hander Chase De Jong, making his third start of the season, fared well early, throwing four scoreless innings until running into trouble in the fifth. De Jong gave up a one-out single to Laureano before serving up a two-run homer to Marcus Semien. It was the first homer allowed by De Jong this season and he nearly surrendered another one, but Jonathan Lucroy's deep drive to left hit the wall.
"Didn't feel great," De Jong said. "A little sluggish. My stuff wasn't really all that good. That's not even trying to downplay anything. That's just as an evaluator."
De Jong was removed from the game and reliever Oliver Drake helped escape the jam with two strikeouts, including Khris Davis with the bases loaded to end the inning. De Jong went 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits to see his ERA rise to 3.86 on the year.
"I thought he had a nice mix there," Molitor said. "He's not overpowering but he's hitting spots and changing speeds. He had some really nice clean innings and pitches were minimal. Just ran into trouble. We were only thinking about trying to go five there if he could get through it. But the two-run homer and the threat looming, we went ahead and made the change, but I thought it was a decent outing."
The 1975 Astros, 1969 Giants, 1966 Red Sox, 1943 St. Louis Browns and 1924 Phillies are the only teams to suffer 15 walk-off losses in a season. Minnesota has already set the MLB record with eight walk-off losses coming on homers. They've lost 10 times on homers, twice on singles, once on an error and once on a wild pitch, with eight different pitchers getting the loss.
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Polanco saved a run with a great play to end the eighth inning, snaring a hard-hit grounder from Matt Olson and making a strong throw to get him at first to end the inning. It stranded Chapman at third and kept the game tied at 2.
HE SAID IT
"It's frustrating. I was there for all of them, and several of them are my fault. It's frustrating. We need to be, and me especially, need to be better in tight games, on the road. Obviously that's the only place walk-offs happen, and we've got to be better." -- Hildenberger on the walk-off losses, as the Twins are 43-31 at home and 28-52 on the road
Right-hander Kyle Gibson (8-13, 3.78 ERA) will start for the Twins in the series finale Sunday at 3:05 p.m. CT. Gibson went 6 2/3 innings against the Royals last time out, but gave up five runs on a season-high-tying 11 hits. He has a 4.66 ERA over his last eight starts. Right-hander Trevor Cahill (6-3, 3.77 ERA) starts for Oakland after being out two weeks with a back injury.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.