MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kennys Vargas tied his career high for Minnesota with five RBIs, including a three-run homer Wednesday night off erratic Oakland starter Kendall Graveman that propelled the Twins to a 7-4 victory over the Athletics.
Hector Santiago (3-1) finished six innings for the fourth time in six turns for the Twins, who have won seven of their last 10 games.
Graveman (2-2) walked four batters, and three of them scored. He was pulled with one out in the fourth inning, by far his worst of five starts this season.
Yonder Alonso hit a two-run homer for the A’s, but they fell to 1-8 with only 21 runs in their last nine games. One of those came in the ninth against Twins closer Brandon Kintzler, who loaded the bases with none out but ended it by getting former teammate Trevor Plouffe to hit into a double-play grounder.
After loading the bases on walks in the first, Graveman jammed Vargas only to watch the bat-breaker land in center field for a two-run single. With the barrel halfway down the right-field line, Vargas kept the handle in his hand as he jogged toward first.
Sent to Triple-A after a spring training hindered by his participation in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico and a foul ball off his left foot, Vargas was recalled 10 days ago for another try as the primary designated hitter. So far, so good. He’s 8 for 22 in six games, benefiting in this one from careful pitching to Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer in front of him.
Santiago, who wore specialized cleats showing an airbrushed picture of his late grandmother, has allowed three runs or fewer in each turn. He was taken off bereavement list before the game following her funeral and produced a solid follow-up to Ervin Santana’s latest masterpiece.
Vargas impressed with his power, but Twins center fielder Byron Buxton was not to be overlooked with his speed. He sprinted right to take an extra-base hit from Rajai Davis leading off the fourth with an almost fully horizontal catch. Alonso’s home run came later that inning.
Then Buxton started the bottom of the frame with a standup triple and scored on a groundout by Max Kepler to push the lead to 6-3.
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HITTING THE WAHL
Bobby Wahl, Oakland’s top relief prospect, made a messy major league debut in the sixth with three of four batters reaching base. Eddie Rosario, who had two hits to stretch his hitting streak to a career-long 13 straight games, tomahawked a high 3-2 fastball for an RBI single off the rookie right-hander.
Athletics: To replace LHP Sean Doolittle (shoulder strain) and RHP Cesar Valdez, who was designated for assignment after allowing four runs in one inning Tuesday, the A’s promoted Wahl and RHP Josh Smith from Triple-A. Wahl has 205 strikeouts in 171 career minor league innings.
Twins: Sano’s appeal of the one-game suspension he received from MLB for aggressive actions that triggered shouts and shoves and cleared the benches against Detroit last month will be heard Friday, Twins manager Paul Molitor said. If he’s denied, he’ll have to sit out that night against Boston.
Oakland will send RHP Jharel Cotton (2-3, 5.00 ERA) to the mound for Thursday’s matinee. He gave up a career-high 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings in his previous start.
For Minnesota in the series finale, RHP Kyle Gibson (0-3, 8.06 ERA) will take his sixth turn of the season with his spot in the rotation in a tenuous state.
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