Josh Donaldson looked down at his glove in disbelief.
Pitcher Taylor Rogers had fielded a softly hit comebacker, spun and threw thigh-high to Donaldson, who was covering second base.
The ball was supposed to be en route to first base to finish an inning-ending double play. But Donaldson dropped Rogers' throw.
Instead of inning over, it was runners on first and third with one out in the top of the ninth of a tie game.
Rogers then struck out Matt Chapman, but a wild pitch on strike three ended up scoring the decisive run in the Twins' 7-6 loss to Oakland on Sunday.
A team that benefited from favorable calls and took a three-run lead early squandered a chance at rare back-to-back victories with its own bungles.
"We expect when we play the way we play against [Oakland], we're going to win a handful of games. We might even win a season series against them," manager Rocco Baldelli said after the Twins finished their season series vs. the AL West-leading A's 1-5. "It has been the furthest thing from that. Ultimately, the results are not good."
The results were looking OK early on. Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Matt Olson double and a single by Chapman, but he was thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double to keep the A's from a bigger inning against Kenta Maeda. Max Kepler responded with a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning, then added a sacrifice fly in the fourth to put the Twins up 4-1.
But it unraveled from there, mostly from the Twins' own doing. Baldelli left Maeda in the game to start the fifth inning even though the righthander had been dealing with some groin tightness, enough to warrant getting Jorge Alcala warming in the fourth.
Baldelli said Maeda was adamant he could pitch through it and had even done so previously in his career. But he gave up four consecutive hits and departed for Tyler Duffey with a run in, no out and the bases loaded.
After an RBI groundout made it 4-3, Ben Rortvedt — who just entered the game at catcher for an injured Willians Astudillo — made the definition of a rookie mistake. Ramon Laureano hit a grounder to shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who threw home. Elvis Andrus was caught in a rundown. But instead of chasing him all the way back to third with Mark Canha already at the base, Rortvedt threw back to Donaldson and then didn't move fully out of the way — giving Andrus the opportunity to throw a shoulder into the catcher and draw an obstruction call. Andrus scored an unearned run to tie the score, and Chapman followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
"When you get in a rundown, I'm out in my head. So automatically I always try to find a way go get out of the situation," said Andrus, a 13-year veteran. "It usually happens with young guys, and guys who haven't been in the league who don't know me yet. As soon as I saw the opportunity, I just took it."
Donaldson's defense lapsed in the seventh inning as well, when he overran a grounder, an infield hit that helped Oakland score another run. And even though Simmons smacked a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to tie the score, Donaldson's ninth-inning error made it all for naught.
"He takes his defense pretty seriously," shortstop Simmons said of Donaldson. "You don't want to make a mistake. It happens. … Sometimes it happens at the wrong time. That's life sometimes."
Donaldson muttered to himself between chomps on his gum. But the brunt of his anger wasn't directed at himself or even the baseball gods.
After leering at his betraying glove and landing a punch in it, he used it to help escort the ball from where it had rolled past him back off the field.
But not before he looked down at it once more — this time with the ball nestled securely inside — and yelled.