MINNEAPOLIS – Jorge Polanco delivered another key hit and the Minnesota bullpen combined for 6 2/3 innings of shutout work as the Twins sent the Oakland Athletics to their ninth straight loss, 4-3 Sunday.
The Twins have swept three of their last five series and won 14 of 17 since beginning the season 4-8.
Minnesota star outfielder Byron Buxton didn't play for the AL Central leaders a day after an early exit. He is day-to-day with a very low-level right hip strain.
The Twins have continued to win despite shortstop Carlos Correa being out with an injured finger.
“It’s been different guys stepping up and that’s a little bit of our identity right now,” said Minnesota bench coach Jayce Tingler, who is acting manager while Rocco Baldelli is out with COVID-19.
“We know nobody’s going to feel sorry for you. Other teams have guys that are out, whether it’s pitching or in the lineup and so we kind of understand task at hand and everybody’s got a role to do and they’re doing a great job of doing their jobs right now," he said.
Polanco, who homered in a 1-0 win Saturday night, hit a two-run single in the third inning for a 4-3 lead.
The Twins allowed only four runs over three games against the Athletics. The Minnesota bullpen didn't permit any runs in 11 2/3 innings during the series, much of it coming after starter Chris Paddack left in the third inning with right elbow inflammation.
From there, Cody Stashak (3-0), Caleb Thielbar, Joe Smith, Tyler Duffey and Emilio Pagán combined for two-hit relief.
The A's put runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth, but Pagán retired Christian Pache on a popup for his fourth save.
“They came in and shut us down,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said.
Gio Ursehla drove in Gary Sanchez with a sacrifice fly in the Twins second to make it 1-all.
Minnesota scored three times in the third against Daulton Jeffries (1-5) on Jose Miranda's RBI double and Polanco's single. Gilberto Celestino had a hit during the rally and finished 3 for 3 with a double.
Seth Brown had two hits for Oakland, including a two-run single in the second.
“We’re just going through it right now,” Jeffries said. “We’ve just got to keep swinging it and it will fall come the next couple series.”
Oakland OF Ramón Laureano went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his return from an 80-game suspension imposed last year after he tested positive for a banned drug.
Laureano declined to expand on the details of his ban but said, “I know what happened. I know who I am. Everybody knows who I am, so I'm not worried.”
TWINS COVID UPDATE
Baldelli, INF Luis Arráez and RHP Dylan Bundy are expected to fly back to Minnesota on Sunday. The three have been isolating in Baltimore after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday prior to Minnesota's series finale against the Orioles.
Athletics: INF Jed Lowrie was a late scratch Sunday with lower back tightness. He was available off the bench but did not play. ... OF Steven Piscotty was officially added to the 10-day injured list with a Grade 1 calf strain that he sustained during Friday's game.
Twins: Tingler said Buxton was available off the bench. ... OF Trevor Larnach was added to the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain. Larnach played in 22 games for the Twins this season, hitting .313 (21 for 67) with nine doubles, seven RBIs, a .365 on-base percentage and an .813 OPS. C José Godoy was recalled from Triple-A St. Paul to replace Larnach.
“I think we kind of take the news at almost a blessing and understand it could have been worse so in a way. We’re pretty thrilled that you’re really only looking – if everything continues to progress and go right – really only a week more,” Tingler said of Larnach.
Athletics: Travels to Detroit for a five-game series beginning Monday against the Tigers. Oakland is set to start RHP Paul Blackburn (3-0, 2.22 ERA) while Detroit is countering with RHP Michael Pineda (1-1, 3.27 ERA).
Twins: Minnesota has a day off before hosting the Houston Astros for a three-game series starting Tuesday.
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