If you have an interest in the symmetry of history, you can’t help but pay attention to the events of Saturday and exactly 25 years ago Saturday between the Twins and Athletics.
It was on July 29, 1992, that we can locate the single event that sent the Twins spiraling into darkness for close to a decade.
That was the date — and you can excuse the Twins for never marking it as any sort of anniversary — that light-hitting Oakland outfielder Eric Fox launched the most notable hit of a career that would produce five major league home runs and a .198 batting average.
With one out and two on in the top of the ninth at the Metrodome, Fox bashed a three-run home run to right off Rick Aguilera, turning a 4-2 Twins lead into a 5-4 defeat.
It gave Oakland a sweep of the Twins, who entered the series with a 60-38 record and a three-game lead in the old American League West over Oakland. A victory in the finale would have salvaged at least some momentum and kept Minnesota in sole possession of first place one year after their World Series title.
Instead, the loss set the Twins on a course to go 30-34 over their final 64 games, eventually finishing 90-72 and a distant six games behind Oakland (during a time when the wild card didn’t exist).
The Twins went 71-91 the next season, the first of eight consecutive losing years. That nightmarish descent could have happened, sure, without Fox’s help. But he sure hastened the fall.
It was fitting that exactly 25 years later, the A’s left a clear line of separation on this 2017 Twins season with another dramatic, ninth-inning home run against the Twins.
Rajai Davis (a more accomplished hitter than Fox) delivered this blow against Taylor Rogers (a good Twins reliever but not one as accomplished as Aguilera). It was a two-run homer, this time in Oakland, and it left the A’s with the exact same 5-4 final score in victory as it did 25 years ago.
Earlier that same day, GM Thad Levine had indicated the Twins would be looking to deal experienced players at the trade deadline, a reversal of course from recent weeks influenced surely by the Twins’ slump and hot streaks by teams ahead of them in the standings.
Still, a victory Saturday would have made it two in a row and put the Twins back at .500. If there was any chance to save the season and keep the roster intact, the urgency was palpable.
Instead, a must-win turned into a loss. Sunday brought the news that Jaime Garcia — acquired just last week before the Twins stalled in California — had been traded to the Yankees for two prospects after only one start with Minnesota (a win, no less). And then the Twins blew a five-run lead in the series finale, losing in 12 innings.
Saturday’s sequence doesn’t figure to launch another near-decade of bad baseball since the Twins have been mired in that mode for most of seven years already.
A Twins fan can only hope, in fact, that moves made now — with at least a partial assist to a crushing A’s home run — bring on a future decade of success.