Twins see glimpse of future, top A’s to open series at Target Field

Josh Winder ruins the Twins’ pitch plans. Assigned to a long reliever role in the bullpen, Winder has now made two replacement starts to help the team cover a pair of pitchers on the disabled list.

Just a hunch: he will also have a third start.

Winder stifled Oakland’s offense in six innings on Friday, giving up three singles and nothing else while striking out eight. Jose Miranda and Byron Buxton hit solo homers for the Twins, who survived a tense ninth inning for their seventh straight win at Target Field, 2-1 over the Athletic.

“We’re a month into the season and we’ve had some really good pitching outings. The one Winder pitched tonight may have been the best,” interim manager Jayce Tingler said. “He was in command of all his throws.”

He really only needed two. Using a fastball that hit 94 mph and slower 10 mph sliders, Winder waved the A’s in 16 swing-and-misses and four 1-2-3 innings. The rookie right-hander gave up an unearned run on a hit, a badly grounded jab by Jorge Polanco and a sacrificed fly — but he’s yet to give up an earned run in his 12 innings as a starter.

Winder had defensive assists, especially in the second inning, when the A’s had two of their three hits against him. With two outs and Stephen Piscotty at second base, Oakland shortstop Elvis Andrus scored a hit into left field. Trevor Larnach lined the ball up on a jump and threw a strike to receiver Gary Sanchez that beat Piscotty from 15 feet.

“That game was huge,” Tingler said of Larnach’s third assist. “Games like this bring the momentum back into our dugout.”

Max Kepler also had a dive into right field, and center fielder Gilberto Celestino did the same on Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly. And with the bases loaded in the ninth, Miranda saved a potential tying run by rushing forward to pick up a Seth Brown dribbler and shovel it to Sanchez for a forced out, before Emilio Pagan hit Chad. Pinder swinging to a 3-2 pitch to end the game.

The Twins squandered plenty of chances on offense, scoring their only points by hitting them over the fence. Miranda started the second inning by driving a 3-1 fastball from Oakland southpaw Zach Logue into the second deck to left center, his first career home run.

Three innings later, Buxton started by laying down a 2-2 fastball into the Athletics bullpen, just out of Cristian Pache’s reach, for his ninth of the season, in just 18 games.

About Christian M.

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