Solo home runs not enough for Twins in loss to Oakland
The Twins honored Jim Thome for the Minnesota sliver of his Hall of Fame career on Saturday night, both before and during the game. The fans and former teammates gathered for the event gave Thome a standing ovation as he walked to a podium by the pitchers mound to express his appreciation, and then again when he threw the ceremonial first pitch to Joe Mauer.
Then the current Twins tried to win a game in Thome fashion one memorable home run after another. Turns out, they could have used a Hall of Famer in the lineup.
Miguel Sano destroyed a baseball Thome-style, blasting it 450 feet into the third deck in left-center field, and Tyler Austin launched one into the flowers atop the right-field wall. But Eddie Rosarios attempt to emulate Thomes game-changing style fell about 10 feet short, and the Twins ultimately dropped their second straight to Oakland, 6-2.
It was a frustrating night for Rosario, who endured his first three-strikeout game in more than a month. But he had a chance to redeem himself with one swing and he nearly did it. Two on, two outs in the seventh inning, the Twins trailing by two, Rosario was locked in on the 98-mph heat coming out of Oakland reliever Jeurys Familias hand. Sure enough, here came the hard stuff, and Rosario believed he had put the Twins in front.
But left fielder Chad Pinder, his shoulder brushing the wall, caught the ball and ended the Twins final threat, sending them to their fourth loss in their last six home games.
Sanos fourth-inning homer, his 12th of the season, left so little doubt as it traveled high and deep, no Oakland fielder moved off his position as the ball carried to the third deck. Three innings later, Austin donated his fourth home run since joining the Twins two weeks ago, and 12th on the season, carrying just barely over the wall in right field. The home run, off reliever Lou Trivino, was his first off a righthander as a Twin.
Stephen Gonsalves second career start represented significant progress over his debut recording 15 outs is demonstrably better than four but he still hasnt
had a clean inning. The rookie lefthander worked around a first-inning walk, and leadoff singles in the third and fifth innings. But he couldnt work around Jonathan Lucroy.
The veteran catcher, a career .367 hitter in Target Field, singled home the Athletics first run in the second inning, then walloped a three-run homer off the upper deck in left-center in the fourth, both clutch hits coming with two outs. In fact, all six of Oaklands runs on Saturday came after two outs.
These guys are kind of learning about what its like to get this level of information, and not go out there and get too sped up, Twins manager Paul Molitor said before the game of rookie pitchers like Gonsalves and Kohl Stewart. The biggest key is Stephen hopefully being a little bit calmer, and keeping those legs from rattling.
The rookie appeared more relaxed than in his nervous debut last Monday, but he still had a tenuous relationship with the strike zone. Gonsalves, who managed to pick off one of the four hitters he walked, threw 90 pitches before being relieved by Alan Busenitz in the sixth, but only 48 of them were strikes.
Busenitz pitched two scoreless innings, and Gabriel Moya retired the first two hitters he faced in the eighth before surrendering a single to Ponder and back-to-back RBI doubles by Matt Olson and Ramon Laureano.