OAKLAND, CALIF. – If there’s such a thing as momentum, the Twins have now experienced both sides of the aftermath of a big comeback.
Just hours after their ninth-inning rally on Saturday was one-upped by the Athletics, Oakland hammered the Twins 14-1 Sunday to win the three-game series. The A’s slugged a season-high five home runs while handing the Twins their worst loss of the season.
The Twins couldn’t do anything right. Tommy Milone couldn’t get his team off the field. Danny Santana couldn’t throw straight. The offense couldn’t figure out A’s starter Jesse Chavez.
And the Twins could not sustain the success they had before the All-Star break, when they won six of seven games.
“We were whipped pretty good,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
On July 10, Brian Dozier’s three-run homer at Target Field capped a ninth-inning rally against Detroit. The Twins went on to win the next two games of the series. When Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez saw Twins closer Glen Perkins at the All-Star Game, he told him Dozier’s blast turned the series around.
Saturday, the Twins looked to have Oakland beat when the A’s tied the score in the ninth off Perkins, then won the game in the 10th. It was only their second walk-off victory of the season, and they returned Sunday and jumped all over the Twins.
“It reminded me a little of what happened after our comeback win against the Tigers,” Molitor said.
Milone (5-2) struck out the first two batters of the second inning before Brett Lawrie sent a bouncing ball toward Santana. The shortstop’s throw zipped by a sprawling Joe Mauer for an error — his first of two flubbed throws — as Lawrie moved to second. Josh Phegley followed with a two-run homer to left to open the scoring.
Santana’s error, Milone said, didn’t affect him as he faced Phegley.
“Things like that are going to happen,” said Milone, who was charged with five earned runs over 2 ⅔ innings. “As a pitcher, you have to maintain composure out there and continue to make pitches. Unfortunately, Phegley got the home run right after that.”
Milone got the first two outs of the third, then plunked Mark Canha with a pitch. Ben Zobrist followed with an RBI double to make it 3-0. The two-out mistakes were costly.
Oakland wasn’t done with Milone. Billy Butler, 9-for-18 in his career vs. Milone, pounded a two-run homer to center. Jake Smolinski followed with a solo blast. Phegley sent Milone to the showers with an RBI double as Oakland took a 7-0 lead.
“Just one pitch away, it seemed like, on every hitter,” Milone said. “And it seemed like I couldn’t get it done.”
Oakland scored 10 of its runs with two outs. Between that and Chavez’s six shutout innings, the Twins were overwhelmed.
Even worse, the A’s entered the game 5-17 against lefthanded starters.
Josh Reddick hit a grand slam off J.R. Graham in the fifth, and Smolinski hit his second homer of the game, a three-run shot off Trevor May, in the eighth.
The Raiders are probably jealous that their co-tenants have found where the points can be scored at O.co Coliseum.
The Twins got an RBI triple from Shane Robinson — on a ball that A’s center fielder Billy Burns lost in the sun — in the ninth inning for their only run.
“They kind of dominated us,” Molitor said.
And the Twins left for Anaheim, for three games against the AL West-leading Angels, trying to figure out how to pick themselves off the ground.