Neither the Minnesota Twins nor the Oakland Athletics wanted a postponement, despite a severe thunderstorm that delayed the first pitch by 2 hours and 42 minutes and left the allpark largely empty.
The long wait was well worth it for Tommy Milone and Twins. Kennys Vargas, Max Kepler and Miguel Sano hit home runs, Milone beat his old team and the Twins topped the Athletics 11-4 in a game that ended early Wednesday morning.
”When you win, it makes it look like a good decision so I’m glad we got it in,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
The game started at 9:52 p.m. and ended at 1 a.m.
”They were right,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. ”They got it in.”
Winning for the first time in eight starts since Sept. 28, Milone finished the sixth inning for only the second time this season. Marcus Semien hit his 18th home run in the second, but that was all the A’s managed against Milone (1-2). He allowed five hits and one walk to the team that traded him to the Twins two summers ago, crediting catcher Kurt Suzuki for calling a smart game behind the plate.
”We were on the same page pretty much the whole night,” Milone said.
Milone averaged 4 1/2 innings over his first six starts this year. With top prospect Jose Berrios on a tear for Triple-A Rochester, the left-hander was likely pitching to keep his spot in the rotation. Molitor essentially acknowledged as much before and after the game.
”I try not to think about that. I try to just go out there and do what I do on the field,” Milone said.
Danny Valencia hit a three-run homer in the eighth to bring the A’s within 7-4, but Sano hit his three-run shot in the bottom of the inning to seal it and help the Twins (28-55) move ahead of Atlanta (28-56) in the race for the worst record in the major leagues.
Vargas, recalled Monday from Triple-A Rochester, went deep for the first time since June 22, 2015, with a two-run, two-out home run in the fifth against Sean Manaea (3-5). Then Kepler homered on the next pitch.
After a meager four-hit performance Monday, the Twins brought their bats to life. Suzuki, another former A’s player, had two RBIs. Byron Buxton had two doubles, driving in one.
The dark clouds rolled in early enough to cancel batting practice, but with both teams scheduled to travel Wednesday evening (Minnesota to Texas and Oakland to Houston) the preference was to avoid a doubleheader the next day. So they waited out the heavy rain, swirling wind and thunder and lightning, and the tarp was pulled off the infield at 9:17 p.m. In the clubhouse, some of the Twins gathered around shortstop Eduardo Nunez’s cubicle to talk about his All-Star Game selection.
Milone hadn’t begun his pregame routine when the rain began, so he said he wasn’t bothered much by the delay. Manaea might have been.
”I know he was pretty antsy,” Melvin said. ”He kept coming in here asking me if I’d heard anything. For starting pitchers, they’re the ones that are affected the most. They’re very routine-oriented.”