OAKLAND, CALIF. -- The Twins had lost two games on this road trip by two or fewer runs and wanted to close out a close one for a change.
But All-Star Brandon Kintzler was not available on Saturday. He had thrown 99 pitches over the previous seven days, and Twins weren't going to abuse him.
So, at the end of another game in which the Twins botched scoring opportunities, the Twins used Buddy Boshers in the eighth, Taylor Rogers in the ninth and even Matt Belisle was warming up in the final inning. Manager Paul Molitor never got to Belisle, as Oakland's Rajai Davis hit a two-run walk-off homer off Rogers in the ninth to give the Athletics a 5-4 win.
What a way for Oakland manager Bob Melvin to win the 1000th game of his career.
What a way for the Twins to fall to 1-4 on this road trip.
"Those are tough," Molitor said. "That’s three games this trip we haven’t been able to close out. And It just goes to show you. You can’t take for granted the value of outs late in game and people who can handle that. And Rogers has been really good. He’s had a little bit of a rough trip here (lately)."
Rogers has emerged as the eighth inning man, the warmup act to Kintzler's ground ball magic in the ninth. But Rogers hasn't been perfect lately, giving up a home run to the Dodgers Cody Bellinger on Monday.
He summoned with two outs in the eighth after Matt Chapman's long home run off of Buddy Boshers made the score 4-3. He got the final out there, but Adam Rosales led off the ninth with a walk. And Roger's 91 miles per hour fastball over the heart of the plate was hit just to the right of the 388 sign in left-center at the Oakland Coliseum.
“We were obviously without Kintzler tonight," Molitor said. "We were just trying to find a way to get through it the best we could.
Before that, it looked like Miguel Sano was going to have the game-winning hit when his two-run homer in the fifth gave the Twins a 4-1 lead. Sano got ahead 3-1 on Athletics righthander Chris Smith then belted a fastball to the opposite field and over the right field wall.
Zack Granite had given the Twins a 2-0 lead with a two-run single in the second inning, extending his hitting streak to nine games. The inning could have been so much more, as the first five Twins reached base before Brian Dozier hit into a force play at home plate then Max Kepler and Sano followed with strikeouts.
The Twins left 10 men on base and were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They could have made things much easier for the bullpen.
“It happens in those situations," Sano said. "No one is perfect in the game. We need to keep going and keep our heads up and win some games.”
When Sano connected in the fifth, it gave rookie lefthander Adalberto Mejia some breathing room.
Oakland scored a run in the fifth to get within 4-2, then came Chapman's homer.
Then came the ninth.
“The disappointing part was that we had a chance to separate ourselves a little bit early in the game," Molitor said. "And we didn't’t have too good of at bats to take advantage of some situations. So we had to find a way to hold on.”