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Twins power way to series victory in Oakland with 14-4 rout in finale

Sonny Gray threw six innings in his longest start of the season

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics - Sonny Gray
Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Sonny Gray delivers a pitch Wednesday, May 18, 2022 during the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum.
Neville E. Guard / USA Today Sports
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OAKLAND, Calif. — When the Minnesota Twins left Oakland last year, they were doing so after a series that was nothing short of disastrous, a sign of things to come during a season in which the Twins fell far short of expectations.

After getting shut out in both games of a doubleheader, they followed it up with an epic meltdown, marked by shaky pitching and a pair of 10th inning errors. When Luis Arraez’s throw from third sailed well past first base, it sealed what would become perhaps the worst loss in a season full of them.

What a difference a year makes.

This time around, the Twins leave Oakland with a series win, their first at the Oakland Coliseum since 2011. They did so by winning the series finale 14-4 on Wednesday afternoon, largely on the strengths of contributions from guys like Sonny Gray, Gary Sánchez and Carlos Correa, players who weren’t on the team a year ago.

“I’ve been a part of a lot of teams that came in here and struggled to play well,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You’ve got teams coming in and playing real good and all of a sudden, you look up, it’s tough to score and it’s a different feel.”

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It sure wasn’t tough for the Twins to score on Wednesday.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics - Jorge Polanco
Minnesota Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco (11) steals second base Wednesday, May 18, 2022, against Oakland Athletics second baseman Tony Kemp (5) during the sixth inning at RingCentral Coliseum.
Neville E. Guard / USA Today Sports

They opened up the game in the first inning with four hits and a walk, producing three runs. Gary Sánchez, who homered in the first two games of the series, dropped a broken-bat single into left to produce the Twins’ first two runs, and Gio Urshela followed with a run-scoring hit of his own.

“You’re owed nothing in this game, but it does feel good to see a guy who’s been swinging the bat good and really probably hasn’t gotten all of the production that he’s put into it with a big hit like that in a big spot early in the game,” Baldelli said of Sánchez.

The hits kept coming — three from Arraez, two each from Correa, Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers — all day, and the Twins kept tacking runs on.

In the third, Sánchez drove in another run. Back-to-back doubles from Arraez and Correa produced two more in the fourth, and the Twins (22-16) broke away with five in the sixth. The Twins scored three more off A’s (16-24) left fielder Chad Pinder in the ninth.

“There was a lot of action. There were a lot of baserunners. That’s what we’re looking for,” Baldelli said. “We found a way to get them home.”

They did so in support of Gray, who went six innings for the first time this season.

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“He doesn’t miss games,” Baldelli said last week. “He doesn’t even want to come into my office or talk about health."

While Gray got into some trouble in the first few innings of his outing, he settled down and wound up retiring the last 10 batters he faced.

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“I had a couple of two-out knocks, they had a couple two-out hits. But overall, I felt committed to what I had going on and really filling up the strike zone,” Gray said. “ … In about the third inning, I was like ‘All right, now it’s time to go.’ I started throwing the ball a little bit harder. I started getting after it a little bit more. I felt great.”

Gray threw 84 pitches and said if the game was closer, he was ready to fight to stay in because of how good he felt.

Alas, it was not, and the Twins settled for a solid six innings from the starter, walking away from Oakland in a much better place than they were in a year ago.

“It’s nice to have (Carlos) back. It’s nice to see Gary swinging the bat well,” Gray said. “It’s nice to see our offense putting up runs. We’re going to enjoy this, go into the off day and look to continue in Kansas City.”

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