Minnesota turns to right-hander Kenta Maeda on Sunday afternoon as the Twins try to win just their fourth series of the season when they host the Oakland Athletics in Minneapolis.
Maeda (2-2, 5.08 ERA), the runner-up for the American League Cy Young Award last season, will be making just his second career start against the A’s. The first one on April 21 in Oakland wasn’t pretty.
Maeda allowed seven runs on eight hits, including two home runs by Matt Olson and another by Seth Brown, over three innings in a game that the A’s eventually won in 10 innings, 13-12.
Oakland, playing the final game of a six-game road trip that began by winning two of three games at AL East-leading Boston, will counter with right-hander Chris Bassitt (3-2, 3.54 ERA).
Bassitt is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in five career games and two starts against Minnesota, including 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in four games and two starts at Target Field.
Oakland clubbed four home runs to win the series opener on Friday night, 6-1, but Minnesota bounced back in dramatic fashion to even the series with a 5-4 victory on Saturday afternoon, snapping a five-game losing streak in the process.
Miguel Sano was batting just .114 when he stepped into the box against left-handed reliever Jake Diekman in the eighth inning. But he hit a three-run homer that hit the top of the limestone overlay and then bounced into the right field bleachers to give the Twins just their second victory in 10 games.
Sano’s homer, his third of the season and first since April 15, traveled just an estimated 349 feet.
“He hit that ball good,” said Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli. “When it landed in the seats it was a real release and the guys were just ecstatic. It’s something that we’ve been waiting for, and we got it, and it was huge.”
“I didn’t think (it would carry into the bleachers) but he’s strong,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “It did look like the wind picked up blowing out to right field as the game went on.”
Oakland led 4-1 going into the bottom of the eighth before the Twins erupted for four runs, the final three on just Sano’s fourth hit in 28 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season.
“It’s never easy to swallow a game like that,” Melvin said. “(Minnesota is) a good hitting team. You know it’s going to take 27 outs to beat them, and we couldn’t get the last one today.”
The Twins still own the worst record in baseball (13-24) but are hoping Saturday’s comeback is the spark for a much-needed turnaround.
“That’s special,” Sano said. “Our team is one of the best teams for the last three years, and that’s what we’re supposed to do. We win, we play, and we’ll have some fun in the game.”
“It was an emotional day I think for everybody,” Baldelli added. “It was an intense day in a lot of ways. We got a moment there — that’s a moment that I think can really energize everything happening right now. It was big thing for our team and a big thing for Miguel Sano too. It was the kind of day you remember, you build off of.”
–Field Level Media