The Minnesota Twins aren’t scoring too many runs these days. They are, however, winning with frequency.
The three-game sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros last week notwithstanding, the Twins are now 9-6 in the month of May and have won three of their last four games.
Monday evening’s victory in Oakland followed a similar pattern to most of the Twins’ wins over the past couple of weeks: solid starting pitching, stellar bullpen work, and just enough offense.
Chris Archer struggled a bit with control in the first inning, but with runners on second and third base coaxed a weak flyout to Byron Buxton to end the inning. He managed 1-2-3 innings in the second and third before a one-out walk and a two-out double in the bottom of the fourth, allowing Oakland to score their only run of the game. Archer’s night was done after the fourth, despite throwing just 62 pitches.
The Twins had gotten on the board first in the top of the third inning. Royce Lewis led off the frame with a double into the left-field corner. With two outs, Jorge Polanco served a single into centerfield to score Lewis, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead.
After the A’s tied the game in the bottom of the fourth, the Twins re-took the lead right back in the fifth. Lewis started the rally once again, drawing a lead-off walk. Nick Gordon bunted Lewis to second, and Byron Buxton laced a single through the hold on the left side of the infield to score the run.
The Twins added an insurance run in the top of the sixth inning with a monster blast from Gary Sanchez, who went to the upper deck in straightaway centerfield.
In the meantime, Yennier Cano pitched two effective innings in his second-ever MLB appearance, ultimately earning the win as the Twins took and maintained their lead.
The Twins’ offense was largely quiet the rest of the way, while Griffin Jax turned in a pair of nearly spotless innings of his own and Tyler Duffey earned his first save of the season in a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
- The Twins have only scored more than four runs in a game once in the last 13 days, yet they’ve still managed to go 7-6 during that stretch. They’ve scored three or fewer runs in six of the last seven games.
- The offense was again a combination of solo homers (in this case, just one) and some small-ball in support of a fantastic team pitching performance. In addition to the run scored after the walk, bunt, and single in the fifth inning, the Twins tried to steal second base with Gordon in the top of the ninth inning but Jorge Polanco was called out on strikes before Gordon could swipe the bag. With offense down across the league, speed and small-ball strategies could be an important tool for Rocco Baldelli moving forward.
- Kyle Garlick made his return after missing 13 games with a calf strain and batted third as the designated hitter against Oakland lefthander Zach Logue. He clubbed two deep fly balls into left field, including one that made it all the way to the warning track. After an A’s pitching change in the top of the fifth, Garlick was removed for lefthanded pinch-hitter Luis Arraez.
- Twins pitching staff: 9 IP, ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K
- Gary Sanchez: 2-for-4, HR, 2B
- Royce Lewis: 1-for-3, 2B, BB, 2 R,
- Byron Buxton: 1-for-5, RBI single
- None. Twins win! Twins win!
- The Twins take on the Athletics in Game 2 of the series at 8:40 p.m. CT again on Tuesday evening.