MINNEAPOLIS — Sonny Gray had his good stuff on Wednesday at Target Field, finding ways to wiggle out of jams while pitching six solid innings for the Oakland Athletics.
Even that wasn’t enough to stop a personal losing streak that has stretched on for more than two months.
Ervin Santana struck out eight and walked none in a two-hitter that led the Minnesota Twins over the Oakland Athletics 4-0.
Gray gave up one run, six hits and four walks in six innings, losing his seventh straight decision, the longest active skid in the American League. Billy Butler’s two-out double in the fifth and Stephen Vogt’s leadoff single in the eighth Oakland’s lone hits.
“Probably the best mix of pitches we’ve seen in a while,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. “He threw quite a few changeups, curveball, slider, moving fastballs, some cutters, really a good array of pitches. Unfortunately, they just fouled a lot of them off.”
And Santana was even better.
Santana pitched his eighth shutout and 15th complete game, helping the Twins take two of three from the A’s. Joe Mauer had three hits and an RBI.
The bleary-eyed clubs were back at it on Wednesday less than 12 hours after finishing a rain-delayed game that started at 9:52 p.m.
Both teams appeared to be swinging heavy bats, and Gray stranded 12 runners, holding the Twins to 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
He gave up an RBI-double to Mauer in the fifth, but held the Twins at bay for the rest of his start.
“Mentally, I was just trying to stay aggressive,” said Gray, who has not won since April 22. “There were times to challenge guys and times not to. The times he told me to go challenge guys I was able to do that a little bit more.”
Santana frustrated Oakland’s hitters all afternoon. Josh Reddick slammed his bat in anger after popping out to the catcher in the fourth inning and Khris Davis did the same after a strikeout in the seventh.
The A’s didn’t record a hit until Butler’s double in the fifth.
“We had some good at-bats off him at times and we had some non-competitive at-bats,” Vogt said. “When a pitcher has his stuff and you don’t have consistent at-bats against him it’s going to be hard to win. He was very, very good today.”
While mired in the losing streak, Gray walked out of the ballpark on Wednesday in his final start before the All-Star break feeling a sense of momentum that the A’s hope can carry over into the second half of the season.
“He’s shown signs of it all year,” Vogt said. “It’s not like he’s been awful all year. It’s been kind of a big inning has gotten him. I think that was kind of a turning point today for him, in my opinion.”