By Morris Phillips
OAKLAND — The A’s put together a pair of impressive, come-from-behind wins on Friday and Saturday. Based on their quiet performance on Sunday, those loud wins may have drained the club still battling for home field advantage in the October 3 wild card playoff.
The Twins got a majestic, first inning home run from Jake Cave, and Kyle Gibson shut down the A’s into the eighth inning and the Twins avoided a three-game sweep at the Coliseum. In the process, all the preparation for an A’s postgame celebration was rendered meaningless.
“Somebody mentioned the last couple years we’ve seen other teams celebrate while we were in town,” Gibson said. “So to be able to finish out the season without having to see any celebration is kind of nice.”
The Twins came to Oakland intent on impacting the AL playoff picture, but instead they got saddled with two, draining losses. But that process may have impacted Sunday’s result in which the A’s appeared flat even with everything to play for, and knowing the Yankees had lost minutes earlier.
“We didn’t play our best and we faced a guy who really pitched well,” Matt Chapman opined. “We just got out-played today.”
The A’s sliced the Twins early 2-0 lead in half with Matt Olson’s second inning home run. But that shot didn’t signal the A’s arrival, instead that was the moment of Gibson’s takeover. The Twins starter allowed just three singles after Olson’s blow leading to his departure with one out in the eighth inning. When trouble appeared to be brewing, Minnesota’s defense provided support. Former Giant Ehire Adrianza started an inning-ending double play with a snag of Chapman’s hard hit smash in the fifth.
“You can’t start talking about anything I did without talking about the defense,” Gibson said. “It was an incredible display.”
Trevor Cahill got roughed up, departing in the fourth with the Twins leading 4-1 and poised to score again. Melvin still felt Cahill acquitted himself decently following his previous, lackluster start. Cahill hadn’t pitched since September 9 when he experienced forearm strain. The loss was Cahill’s first this season at home after building a 5-0 record.
“All things considered, I think it was a step in the right direction for him,” Melvin said of Cahill.
The A’s remain 6 1/2 games ahead of the Rays giving additional importance to Tampa Bay’s home game Monday against the Yankees. If the Rays win, the A’s will move within a game of New York for the lead wild card spot. If the Rays lose, the A’s will clinch a tie for the second wild card spot.
The loss likely ended the A’s quest for a division crown with the Astros increasing their AL West lead to 4 1/2 games. The A’s finish the regular season with road games at Seattle and Anaheim beginning Tuesday.