A’s rally to beat Twins in extras, win 11th in a row

MLB

Sometimes you win a game in heroic comeback fashion and sometimes your opponent hands you a gift of gaffes more often seen in Little League than the major leagues.

The Oakland Athletics extended their winning streak to 11 in a row — tied for their second-longest win streak since their franchise-record 20-game streak — with a wild, 13-12 victory over the Minnesota Twins in 10 innings.

After Byron Buxton’s two-run home run in the top of the 10th gave the Twins a 12-10 lead, the A’s rallied for three unearned runs without benefit of a hit, as the Twins committed infield errors on consecutive batters with two outs to allow the improbable Oakland win.

Twins closer Alex Colome got the first two batters out in the 10th with the automatic runner on second base, but then walked Seth Brown and light-hitting Elvis Andrus (hitting .143) to load the bases. Mark Canha hit a routine grounder to the left of second baseman Travis Blankenhorn, who bobbled the ball to allow one run to score and keep the bases loaded. Blankenhorn, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Josh Donaldson in the top of the inning, was playing his first inning of 2021 and just the second game of his major league career.

Ramon Laureano fouled off three two-strike pitches from Colome before hitting a chopper to third baseman Luis Arraez, who had just moved over from second base in place of Donaldson. Arraez air-mailed his throw to first base, allowing two runs to score. It was just the second throwing error of Arraez’s career and his first in 28 games at third base.

“The way the first two games went and then neither team could hold either down, it was almost like it was going to go down to the last at-bat regardless,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “And then you know what? You put a ball in play. At that point in time it’s not about walks and strikeouts and all that. Put it in play and something good can happen.”

The A’s started the season 0-6 — getting outscored 50 to 13 in the process — and now became the first team to start 0-6 and then win 11 in a row at any point in a season. All in their first 19 games.

“We’re doing some good things right now, so there’s a never-say-die attitude regardless, but when you’re playing the way we are and you’re pretty opportunistic, and whatever transpires over the course of a game, you feel pretty good about it,” Melvin said. “It just never felt like we were out of the game even though it felt like we couldn’t stop them offensively.”

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli felt he needed more speed on the bases to start the 10th, which is why he had Blankenhorn run for Donaldson.

“In extra innings, if you don’t find a way to put a run on the board, you’re going to end up losing a lot of those games. Doing everything possible to put that first run on the board is, I think, instrumental to finding ways to win those games,” Baldelli said.

The Twins have battled a COVID-19 outbreak that forced them to cancel games on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and were then shut out in both games of a doubleheader on Tuesday.

“It’s been a hell of a trip, and not in a good way,” Baldelli said. “Today was a game where we’re finding ways to not win games, even games that we should be winning. What we saw today is something we haven’t seen a ton from our group and I stand in the front of it and take responsibility for all of it. It was a very difficult day.”

Oakland’s victory spoiled what should have been a signature game for Buxton, who went 3-for-6 with the home run, a double and spectacular catch in the outfield.

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