Twins finish road schedule with a victory in Oakland
OAKLAND, Calif. - For a Jake Cave homer, Sundays two-run blast was puny. For Kyle Gibson and the walkoff-ridden Twins, it was monumental.
Cave, whose 419-foot average home-run distance is the longest in the American League, drove a first-inning sinker from Trevor Cahill over the wall in center field, handing Gibson a lead to protect and the As a deficit they never erased. The result was a 5-1 victory for the Twins, a postponement for Oaklands playoff-clinching celebration, and the end, for this year, to the Twins weakness for walkoffs.
Gibson recorded an eighth-inning out for just the third time this season, and turned in one of his most impressive outings of the season, particularly given the Twins recent history in Oakland Coliseum. Gibson allowed seven hits, five of them singles, and struck out three en route to his ninth victory of the season, and first ever in Oakland where the Twins had lost four consecutive games, over two seasons, in walkoff style.
Caves homer changed the tone, however. After Joe Mauer led off the game with a single and Jorge Polanco took strike three, Cave worked the count to 2-2 before unloading on a Cahill pitch that hung in the middle of the strike zone. It traveled 417 feet, easily clearing the center field wall, but ranked as the fourth-shortest of the dozen homers Cave has crushed this season.
Gibson allowed a second-inning home run to Matt Olson on a full count, but then held the As scoreless until being removed with one out in the eighth, three times stranding Athletics who reached scoring position with fewer than two outs.
The Twins only scored again once, but the three-run fourth was enough to keep thoughts of another walkoff disaster the Twins finish their road season with 15 walkoff losses, one short of the major-league record at a distance. A Matt Chapman throwing error was sandwiched between singles by Robbie Grossman and Max Kepler, the latter scoring Grossman. Ehire Adrianza followed with his sixth double in the last four games, driving in a run, and Chris Gimenezs sacrifice fly brought home Kepler with the Twins fifth run.
It was enough, even against an As team that has averaged 7.8 runs per home game in September. Trevor May extracted the Twins from a two-on, two-out jam in the eighth by striking out Ramon Laureano, then pitched a scoreless ninth to record his first career save.
Mauer singled in the fifth inning, too, the 3,072nd time in his career he has reached base. That ties him with Harmon Killebrew for the most ever by a Minnesota Twin.