OAKLAND, CALIF. – Quite a road trip for the Twins. They knocked Seattle out of first place, then knocked Oakland out of last.
The A’s scored single runs in five consecutive innings Wednesday and pinned a third consecutive loss on the suddenly powerless Twins, 5-1 at O.co Coliseum. The three-game sweep — already the eighth suffered by the Twins this season — dropped them to 7-22 on the road and dissipated any lingering positivity from their unexpected sweep of the Mariners at the outset of this trip.
Yes, a 3-3 swing down the Pacific coast might have been seen as progress, might have provided a little momentum heading into a long homestand, if the Twins hadn’t achieved it in the most discouraging way possible.
“Disappointing,” manager Paul Molitor said. “The offense we saw in Seattle didn’t make the trip south. You get off to a good start, and end up splitting the road trip, you’ve got to try to regroup.”
Sort of like the A’s did. Crumbling under a 9-17 month of May as the Twins arrived, Oakland got just enough hitting and pitching — the A’s never scored more than two runs in an inning during the entire series, but the Twins never scored more than one — to complete its third sweep of the Twins in four years and pull clear of Houston once more at the bottom of the AL West standings.
Miguel Sano probably will undergo an MRI on his left leg when the Twins get back to Minneapolis, “just to make sure there’s no undetected damage,” Molitor said. But the damage Sano’s hamstring injury does to the Twins’ lineup was easy to detect. With Joe Mauer getting a planned day off after playing 50 of the first 51, Molitor went with a Dozier-Plouffe-Park combination in the 3-4-5 spots. Normally not a bad mix in the middle, those three came into the game a combined 7-for-40 (.175) on this road trip, and 22-for-137 (.161) with one home run since May 16.
“[Sano] has been carrying us the past couple of weeks,” Dozier said. “Obviously it’s a big hit for us, but somebody has to step up.”
Actually, that’s not what Molitor wants to hear, because he fears players will overstep their abilities.
“It’s not so much guys stepping up for me, as it is doing what you can do,” the manager said. “The danger is trying to do too much at times.”
They didn’t do much Wednesday, and even when they did, it amounted to less than it should. That middle three, which combined to go 2-for-9 (though each drew a walk), loaded the bases with no outs against A’s starter Sean Manaea in the sixth. But that enticing situation has been nothing but a letdown for the Twins this year, so when Eduardo Escobar lofted a sacrifice fly to score a run, and then Max Kepler and Juan Centeno struck out, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
In the eight times the Twins have loaded the bases with no outs this season, they have three hits in 23 at-bats (.130) during the rest of the inning, resulting in a paltry 10 runs.
“It was disappointing,” Molitor said. “You’re hoping you can keep the line moving, get yourself back into the game, but we got the sac fly and then a checked swing, and we couldn’t finish off. We didn’t get a lot of [opportunities], but that was one where we didn’t maximize our chance.”
After bashing 11 homers over four games before arriving in the Bay Area, Minnesota went homer-free here.
“Sano’s absence,” Molitor said with a shrug, “will be felt until he returns.”