Twins blow six-run lead but hold on to beat A’s, 10-7

16 July 2023

OAKLAND, Calif. — Byron Buxton has had some big hits this season. He has 15 home runs, one fewer than leader Joey Gallo, and 35 home runs, three fewer than leader Carlos Correa.

But none of them felt as good as the walk he drew Saturday in the Twins’ 10-7 victory over the A’s at Oakland Coliseum.

“For me,” he said, “that might be my best at-bat this whole year.”

Buxton’s bases-loaded walk off right-hander Freddy Tarnok in the eighth inning added a big insurance run as the Twins methodically took the air out of what had been an epic Oakland comeback.

The first blow was a two-out, solo home run by Kyle Farmer that broke a 7-7 tie in the seventh inning, the second Buxton’s 10-pitch at-bat with Tarnock (0-1) that brought home Ryan Jeffers, who had walked, to make it 9-7.

“Yeah!” Buxton yelled as he dropped his bat and started to first. “Let’s go!”

Minnesota added a run off former Twins right-hander Trevor May in the ninth when Willi Castro tripled and Jeffers bunted him home for a 10-7 lead, and Jhoan Duran pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save as Minnesota climbed back over .500 and 1½ games above second-place Cleveland in the American League Central.

Buxton fouled off six pitches, just missing a few, before ignoring a 93.6 mph four-seamer from Tarnok, a rookie making his 2023 debut after appearing in one game for Atlanta last season. In his first at-bat against him Saturday, he popped foul to catcher Tyler Soderstrom.

“But I saw him pretty good,” Buxton said. “Kind of went back to the dugout and was like, ‘Look, I can’t be missing pitches.’ We kind of looked at a little video and made adjustments and got a little more comfortable that last at-bat, and … the fastball I was missing yesterday, I was able to foul that off and give myself another chance.”

It could have been a much different, and less happy outcome for the Twins, who blew a third-inning, 6-0 lead to an A’s team that started the game with the worst record in baseball. But after Oakland tied the game, 7-7, on Nick Allen sacrifice fly off starter Pablo Lopez, Farmer homered to take the win out of the home team’s sails.

Farmer went 3 for 5 with a single, a two-run double and the go-ahead home run a day after tripling and homering in Friday’s 5-4 victory. Heading into the all-star break, the veteran infielder was hitting .200 in 32 games since June 1 and brought a .237 average into this series.

In two games back, he’s 5 for 9 with two homers, a triple, double, four RBIs and a walk.

“It feels good, putting good swings on the balls,” Farmer said. “I thought about some things over the break and I’m putting it together now. Hopefully, it can carry and keep going.”

The Twins spotted Lopez, who pitched in last Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Seattle, a six-run lead after putting up two runs in each of the first three innings. He pitched into the sixth inning, leaving after giving up a sacrifice fly to No. 9 hitter Nick Allen, which tied the game 7-7.

The right-hander was charged with seven earned runs on eight hits and three walks and struck out seven.

“Winning is the most important thing, but I’ll always be the first one to hold myself accountable, too, and realize that I did not do my job,” he said. “I kind of did everything against what the offense was doing. I couldn’t protect the lead. They gave me a lot of runs. They gave me a lot of support. I just kept going out there and allowed runners to score in four straight innings.”

But the Twins never stopped scoring.

Carlos Correa went 3 for 5 with a run scored and two-run single, Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer, and Willi Castro scored the seventh run when he took home on a broken double steal in the fifth — becoming the first Twins player to steal home twice in a season since Dan Gladden did it in 1988.

“I think I just have to be better,” Lopez said. “Better at understanding that maybe I change my mentality when it comes to we score, they don’t, and try to give the team those shutdown innings.”

Jovani Moran (2-2), Griffin Jax and Oliver Ortega combined to throw three scoreless innings, and Jhoan Duran struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth. After scoring a combined four runs in three losses to Baltimore before the break, the offense has put up 15 in two games against the A’s.

“Normally, we put up two, three runs and …. not waste the rest of the game, but we don’t really score any runs, we don’t capitalize on runners being on base,” Buxton said.

“It’s more being accountable and taking each at-bat, like I said yesterday, like it’s Game 7 — (so) once we get to that spot (in the postseason), it’s not a shock. We’ve been doing this since the second half (started).”

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