Eighty-one home games have taken place. The next time the Twins enter Target Field for a game, it will be for Game 1 of the Wild Card Series.
Sonny Gray made his final pitching start of the regular season, and Kenta Maeda his first appearance this year out of the bullpen in the Twins’ 2-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday at Target Field as the Twins continue to prepare for the playoffs.
Like Pablo López a day before him, Gray, who should start the second game of the Wild Card Series for the Twins (85-74), was expected to have a shorter start than normal. This one lasted four innings, with Gray allowing only one run. With this, he lowered his season earned run average slightly, from 2.80 to 2.79.
That ERA is second in the American League among qualified starters behind Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. He ranks third overall among the majors. For Gray, who took the ball every five days and finished with 184 innings pitched, it was also the most starts he’s made since 2014, the most innings pitched since 2015 and the ERA the lowest he has posted since that year.
Gray was followed in the game by Maeda, who pitched 3 1/3 innings in his first outing as a reliever since 2019. Maeda remained with a 62-pitch outing, tossing three hitless innings before ‘allowing a solo home run to Ryan Noda. at the start of the eighth inning. This was the decisive point of the match.
On a day when their three pitchers – Louie Varland pitched the last two innings of the game – allowed only four hits to the Athletics (49-110), the Twins hitters couldn’t do much no more. They scored their only run of the game in the sixth inning when Willi Castro came in to score on Matt Wallner’s bases-loaded double play. They finished with just four hits in the loss.