OAKLAND, CALIF. – It was an odd outcome for such a meticulous pitcher. The Twins' Pablo López got ahead of Oakland's Zack Gelof with two quick bottom-of-the-zone strikes in the eighth inning Sunday, then missed wildly with four pitches, none coming within six inches of the zone.

Gelof took his base, and the Twins' streak of 21 consecutive innings without issuing a walk finally came to an end.

Rocco Baldelli's reaction? We'll just start another one.

"We always want to do that. We want to be throwing quality strikes, and we're greedy" about it," the Twins manager said after his team beat the Athletics 3-0. "Pablo had all his pitches working. He's in and around the zone normally, that's what he does well."

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He's not the only one. Twins starting pitchers have walked only 99 batters all season, second-fewest in the majors after Tampa Bay (93), whose starters have thrown 24 fewer innings. The Twins are the only team with more than three pitchers — they have five — who have pitched at least 60 innings and walked 20 batters or fewer.

"We have a lot of guys that are good strike-throwers. And being a good strike-thrower, you don't always see the benefits of it firsthand," Baldelli said. "Those are kind of peripheral things, real benefits that come to your team when guys just don't give up free passes. There might be contact, hard contact, but one thing we want to continue is to be in control and aggressively pitch in the strike zone."

Just a coincidence

López's attempt to become the first Twins pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Francisco Liriano in 2011 might have gotten a boost through the randomness of umpire rotations. Jordan Baker was behind the plate Sunday, the second time he had umpired a López start.

"It's very [easy] to know he's on the plate, because he's like the tallest umpire in the league, and he gets down [really far]," López said of the 6-foot-7 umpire. "You've got to have some strong legs to do that."

López said he wasn't aware of his other encounter with Baker, back in 2022 while with Miami. The righthander pitched six shutout innings — coincidentally also in Oakland — and gave up only four hits, all singles.

That means López now has 14 shutout innings, giving up only six singles, with Baker behind the plate, with three walks and 20 strikeouts.

"Umpire doesn't really affect my game plan. It doesn't really make me think I should do something differently," López said. "You still have to force yourself to be in the zone."

Talk about it

Byron Buxton slid into third base as Tyler Nevin tagged him in the seventh inning, and third-base coach Tommy Watkins immediately protested to umpire Dan Merzel, pointing to the route Buxton had taken.

"We believed there might have been blocking of the base, Buck not having the ability to really get to the bag," Baldelli said. "Tommy had a good angle, and we thought that Buck didn't have a clean path, that he had to make a weird move to get there."

The umpires huddled together to discuss it, but ruled that Nevin had not impeded Buxton.

"They did get together, which you appreciate. They talked about it," Baldelli said. "They [said] they just didn't have clear and convincing evidence to change the call."


• The Saints' 11-game winning streak ended with a thud as Louie Varland gave up five home runs, including two to Dillon Dingler, in 2⅓ innings in a 20-9 loss to Toledo at CHS Field. Varland gave up 12 runs (11 earned) on 11 hits, and his Class AAA ERA rose to 7.33.

Bailey Ober, on combining with López to retire 34 consecutive Oakland hitters, 17 apiece: "Any time Pablo wants to one-up me, I'm all for it. That's a really good thing for us."

• Baldelli, who turned the game over to Griffin Jax in the ninth inning, on whether López would have stayed in the game (at 102 pitches) if he was still pursuing a perfect game: "We'll never know. Maybe we'll find out his next start. That would be great."