OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Twins entered Thursday, July 4, with the most road wins in the major leagues, nearly making it all the way to the all-star break without suffering a losing road trip.
They could have staved that off Thursday and headed back to Minneapolis .500 on their six-game swing through Chicago and Oakland. Instead, they fell flat against the Athletics, losing 7-2 in the series finale at the Oakland Coliseum in a game that was closer than the final score reflects. The loss dropped them to 2-4 on the road trip.
“Obviously we didn’t win as many games on this trip as we’d like,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think we were in a lot of these games and even under circumstances that were far less than ideal, we were able to give ourselves chances to win.”
That was again the case Thursday, when the Twins, though they weren’t able to string together runs, went into the eighth inning within striking distance, just a run back.
That is, until Marcus Semien hit his second home run of the game. This one was a grand slam off Mike Morin and put the game out of reach. The Twins (54-32) had been trailing since the fifth inning, when Jose Berrios gave up a pair of runs, one on Semien’s first home run of the game and the other scoring on a double-play ball.
This despite them having ample opportunities throughout the day. They finished 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base. The Twins had some of their best chances early against Athletics starter Tanner Anderson, who gave up nine hits and walked two in 4 2/3 innings.
It looked for a moment like the Twins might be able to do heavy damage in the first inning. Oakland’s Chris Herrmann was called for catcher’s interference with the bases loaded. That allowed Nelson Cruz to score and the Twins to jump ahead. The next batter, Jonathan Schoop, sent a ball out to deep center that Ramon Laureano had to chase down.
“Early on, I thought we swung the bats well. We had good at-bats. We had some opportunities. We didn’t eventually get the job done, get those runs in. But we had some good swings,” Baldelli said. “I thought Schoopie’s ball off the bat, I didn’t know if it was going to get out of the park. I thought it was a clear double, and the ball wasn’t going anywhere out there. I thought he hit it very well and I thought we hit some other balls well too. It just wasn’t our day.”
The Twins stranded a pair of runners on first and second in both the third and fifth innings, though they did score once in the fifth on an Ehire Adrianza single. Right after the Twins took a 2-1 lead, Berrios surrendered it as the Athletics tied the score for the second straight inning.
“I just wasn’t executing pitches there in that inning,” Berrios said of the fifth, when he gave up two runs. “I loaded the bases, but I was able to make adjustments there at the end and get out of the inning to limit the damage.”
So the Twins will turn their focus from a quiet day in Oakland to one more series against the Rangers. They will close out the first half of the season this weekend at home before getting a much-needed break.
“I would say it was definitely challenging in some ways this road trip. We don’t make excuses, but physically our guys are out there battling and we have very few guys I would say at full strength right now, so our guys are just going out there and giving it everything that they have,” Baldelli said. “…We had opportunities to win in both of these series, and we just obviously didn’t get it done.”