OAKLAND -- The Twins kept the A's from clinching a spot in the postseason on their watch, as Kyle Gibson threw 7 1/3 strong innings, Joe Mauer reached yet another milestone and Ehire Adrianza had an impressive day both defensively and at the plate.It helped the Twins to a 5-1
OAKLAND -- The Twins kept the A's from clinching a spot in the postseason on their watch, as Kyle Gibson threw 7 1/3 strong innings, Joe Mauer reached yet another milestone and Ehire Adrianza had an impressive day both defensively and at the plate.
It helped the Twins to a 5-1 win on Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum to avoid a three-game sweep and keep Oakland's magic number at 1 to clinch a Wild Card spot. In their final road game of the season after back-to-back walk-off defeats, the Twins also managed to avoid making dubious history, as they finish with 14 walk-off losses, which is one short of the Major League record.
"Winning games is always important, but I wasn't too concerned about slowing down their party," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We were going to go out there and try and compete these last few days, and put our best foot forward. To come back after a couple of late losses and find a way to play as well as we did today, starts with your starting pitcher."
Gibson, who entered with a 4.66 ERA in eight starts since August, turned in a strong outing in his second-to-last start of the year. The right-hander scattered seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts to improve to 9-13 with a 3.68 ERA in 190 2/3 innings.
He came out for the eighth despite having thrown 105 pitches and exited after surrendering a one-out single to Stephen Piscotty on his 114th pitch of the afternoon. But relievers Tyler Duffey and Trevor May combined to get out of the inning unscathed with May striking out Ramon Laureano on a 3-2 fastball with two on. May also threw a scoreless ninth to get his first career save on his 29th birthday.
"I was glad that Mollie let me go back out for the eighth inning," Gibson said. "That's something I want to try to do more and more. I definitely didn't physically feel my best today. I had spotty fastball command early and then found a little something mechanic-wise that kept me on the ball a little bit better."
The lone run Gibson gave up came on a homer to Matt Olson to lead off the second. But he was helped by several strong plays from Adrianza, including a barehanded play on a slow roller from Chad Pinder in the second and robbing Marcus Semien with a sliding stop to his right in the fourth. His best play came on a diving stop and throw to turn a double play to help Gibson escape a jam in the fifth.
"That was as good a play as I've seen all year," Gibson said. "All over the diamond today was some of the best defensive I've seen. You can't start talking about anything I did without talking about the defense. It was an incredible display."
Offensively, the Twins snapped out of their recent funk. Mauer went 2-for-4 to tie Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew for the most times reaching base safely in Twins history. Mauer reached base safely for the 3,072nd time in his career with his single in the fifth.
Jake Cave started the scoring with a two-run homer off right-hander Trevor Cahill in the first. Minnesota scored three more runs in the fourth, keyed by a one-out single from Robbie Grossman and an error from third baseman Matt Chapman on a grounder from Christopher Austin.
Max Kepler made the A's pay with an RBI single to left while Adrianza stayed hot with an RBI double to knock Cahill from the game. It was Adrianza's sixth double over his last four games, and helped set up a sacrifice fly from Chris Gimenez to cap the scoring.
"We had some big hits today," Molitor said. "Adrianza had a nice little one and he made some great plays, one of them was a momentum changer for us."
The Twins finished with a road record of 29-52, which is tied for the third-most road losses in club history. The most is 58 in 1982, followed by 53 in '86, while they also lost 52 road games in '87 and 2016.
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Adrianza made several great plays on Sunday, but his best came in the fifth on a diving stop and throw to start a double play on a hard-hit grounder from Chapman with two on and one out. It was the hardest-hit ball of the day with an exit velocity of 108.1 mph, per Statcast™, but Adrianza was able to save at least one run from scoring with the double play.
"Great play," Chapman said. "That kind of just describes what happened today. They made the plays they needed to when they needed to, and we didn't."
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"The last couple years we've seen other teams celebrate while we were in town. So to be able to finish out the season without having to see any celebrations is kind of nice. It's a disappointment for us obviously this year, but I think one thing that has been impressive is guys not quitting and playing every game hard. Even though we have seven games left, that's 30 at-bats for some people. We still have a lot to play for. We're going to do our best, not to give anything away and finish up strong at home." -- Gibson, on keeping the A's from clinching
After their final off-day of the season on Monday, the Twins host the Tigers for a three-game series that begins on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT at Target Field. Minnesota will use an unannounced opener for the game, while rookie right-hander Kohl Stewart (2-1, 4.40 ERA) is expected to be the primary pitcher. Stewart is coming off the best outing of his career, allowing no earned runs in six innings in Detroit. Second baseman John Forsythe could also return from a knee injury. The Tigers will start right-hander Spencer Turnbull (0-1, 10.80 ERA).
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.