MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Miguel Sano snapped a 19-game homerless drought with a three-run homer in the eighth inning and the Minnesota Twins came back to beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 on Saturday.
Sano pounded his chest and gestured to his teammates as he rounded the bases after his homer off Oakland left-hander Jake Diekman just reached the overhang in right field. Sano was hitting just .114 this season before the homer, which was just his second of the year and first since the third game of the season.
Sano foreshadowed the moment a day before with Minnesota starter Jose Berrios.
”I told him, `Berry, if I’m in the lineup tomorrow, 100 percent, I’m going to do something special to win the game,”’ Sano said. ”That’s the mindset I have all the time. Try to go out there, compete. That’s a big-time, big moment.”
It was the big hit Minnesota needed to snap its five-game losing streak and finally offer some relief for its struggling offense. The Twins had been 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday before Sano’s homer and entered the day hitting .229 with runners in scoring position.
”We got a moment there that’s a moment that I think can really energize everything happening right now,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. ”It was a big thing for our team and a big thing for Miguel Sano. It was the kind of day that you remember, you build off of.”
Alex Colome (2-3) pitched a scoreless inning in relief of Berrios. Hansel Robles secured his first save of the year despite a one-out double from Chad Pinder in the ninth.
Diekman (2-1) pitched 1/3 of an inning for the Athletics. Yusmeiro Petit had allowed two singles and two walks before giving way to Diekman.
”They beat our best two guys,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. ”Sometimes that’s going to happen.”
Mark Canha homered for the second straight game for Oakland and Matt Olson added a two-run shot.
The Athletics have hit six home runs in the first two games of the series and started the day leading the American League with 53 homers, just three behind Atlanta for the major league lead.
The comeback ruined another quality start from Oakland left-hander Cole Irvin, his fourth in a row. Irvin gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings. After hits to the first two batters of the game, he was on cruise control and reached the seventh inning with 66 pitches and 51 strikes thrown.
The Twins loaded the bases in the seventh. Petit relieved Irvin and the inning ended as Oakland third baseman Matt Chapman reached over the rolled-up tarp to catch a foul ball off the bat of pinch-hitter Luis Arraez.
”To be honest, the objective was just to throw strikes, get outs,” Irvin said. ”I thought I did a really good job of that. (Catcher Aramis Garcia) and I didn’t really feel like throwing too many sliders, either. I threw two sliders on the whole day. It just tells you the four-seam and changeup were working today.”
Berrios kept Minnesota in the game. He allowed both homers but managed to pitch a season-high seven innings and gave up four runs on eight hits.
Athletics: 1B Mitch Moreland was out of the lineup as he deals with side tightness. Melvin said Moreland was feeling sore after sustaining the injury in Friday’s game and the team would likely make a determination on his status after the game.
Twins: OF Jake Cave was placed on the 60-day injured list with a stress reaction in his low back. Baldelli said Cave had been dealing with back soreness. He’s hit .167 in 31 games this season. To replace Cave, Minnesota selected the contract of OF Rob Refsnyder from Triple-A St. Paul.
RHP Chris Bassitt (3-2, 3.54 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale for Oakland. Minnesota will start RHP Kenta Maeda (2-2, 5.08). Bassitt is 3-0 with a 2.92 ERA and .207 opponent batting average over his last six starts. Maeda gave up seven runs and eight hits in three innings in a start at Oakland on April 21.
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