Road trip starts with 'W' in Twins' house of horrors

2 years ago

OAKLAND — For the last few years, a trip to Oakland has been a bad deal for the Minnesota Twins. They entered Monday night’s series opener at the Coliseum having dropped nine consecutive series at the stadium, with a 2-9 record in their past 11 games. Going back further, they came into the night 6-23 in their past 29 games in Oakland, losing all nine series in that span.

But so far, 2022 has been a different year for the Twins against the A’s. Monday’s 3-1 victory lifted Minnesota to 4-0 against the A’s this year, following a three-game sweep at Target Field earlier this month. The ghosts may not be fully exorcised yet, but it was a happy Twins locker room after the game.

“They’ve been playing us very tough,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “All these tight ballgames, there’s no room to breathe in any of these games, and they’ve been pitching very well against us all the way so far this year.”

Baldelli didn’t get to enjoy that sweep back at home, as he missed the series due to COVID-19.

“I was watching those games on TV,” he said. “I wasn’t experiencing it in person. But the stress on TV was very high the entire time. You’ve got to play nine good innings against them, the way they’ve been playing against us.”

The Twins played nine good innings on Monday. They got terrific pitching, with Chris Archer going the first four innings and allowing just one run on two hits. Yennier Cano sailed through the next two frames before Griffin Jax threw two more clean innings. Tyler Duffey followed with a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save of the year.

Cano got the king’s treatment in the locker room for earning his first Major League win, with his teammates dousing him in beer and shampoo.

“It was unexpected,” Cano said via interpreter Elvis Martinez. “One of the best things to happen in my life as a baseball player. I got my first beer shower and it was fun and I appreciate their support.”

Minnesota scored first in the top of the third when Royce Lewis led off with a double and was singled in by Jorge Polanco.

Elvis Andrus doubled in a run in the bottom of the fourth to tie it for Oakland, only to see the Twins come right back on a Lewis single, a Nick Gordon sacrifice and Byron Buxton’s RBI single.

Gary Sánchez made it 3-1 with a bomb off of the back wall in center field leading off the sixth.

Archer looked sharp in his stint, throwing 62 pitches with two strikeouts and two walks, with Baldelli noting postgame that there was some discussion about leaving the veteran right-hander in the game after his fourth inning.

“We check on our guys, generally, starting in the fourth, fifth inning, just to see how they are, but Arch has been doing good work for us,” Baldelli said. “What’d we get? Four good innings from him today.”

Archer added, “I give what they ask me to give. We got the win. Our bullpen was set. So whatever they ask me to do, that’s what I’m willing to do.”

As the night went on, the only question was whether the pitching would hold up. Those nine losses in their past 11 games in Oakland? Five of them came in walk-off fashion.

This time, Jax and Duffey combined to retire the final eight A’s hitters.

“That was something that we knew could be a possibility,” Baldelli said. “We knew we had Cano for multiple innings. He’s been throwing the ball good, too. I mean you could say that about almost every guy we have. Actually I think you could say that about every guy we have at this point, so that’s not necessarily standard. That’s a good thing.”

The Twins have two more games left in Oakland, with a shot at winning their first series at the ballpark since the 2011 season.