MINNEAPOLIS -- Ervin Santana continued his early-season dominance with six scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 0.66 in six starts, and was backed by a Target Field-record six homers from the Twins in a 9-1 win over the A's on Tuesday night.
Brian Dozier had a two-homer game, while Miguel Sano, Jason Castro, Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer also went deep. Santana kept his streak alive, as he's yet to allow more than four hits or give up more than one run in a start this year. He scattered three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts, throwing 96 pitches.
"It was a fun game," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You've got to enjoy good performances across the board. For the most part, everything was how you'd draw it up. Ervin didn't have his best stuff but was able to put up six zeros. Offensively, we hit the ball over the fence and the ball was carrying, for whatever reason."
He outdueled A's ace Sonny Gray, who was making his first start of the year after sustaining a lat strain in Spring Training. Gray was impressive early, hitting as high as 96 mph with his fastball, but was hurt by the long ball. Dozier was the first to go deep with a solo blast in the third before Sano unleashed a mammoth two-run blast over the batter's eye in center field. Castro added a solo blast of his own in the fourth.
"Sonny has high expectations of himself, and he did today," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Sometimes it takes a while to get your feet wet, but he was on it right away. When you don't score any runs, it kind of magnifies the fact that they're ahead of you, 4-0."
The Twins added four insurance runs in the seventh on the strength of three homers off reliever Cesar Valdez, as Buxton and Dozier hit back-to-back blasts. It was the first homer of the year for Buxton and Dozier's sixth career multi-homer game. Mauer smacked his first homer of the year with a two-run shot to left.
Oakland's recent offensive woes were apparent again, as they've scored two runs or fewer in six of their last eight games. They didn't score until the ninth on a solo homer from Yonder Alonso off reliever Michael Tonkin.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gray hurt by early blasts: Gray and Santana were locked into a pitchers' duel before Dozier homered to left with two outs in the third. Two batters later, Sano crushed a two-run shot over the batter's eye in center field that traveled an estimated 444 feet, per Statcast™. It also had an exit velocity of 110.6 mph.
"Overall I felt pretty good," Gray said. "If I could take a couple pitches back, obviously I would. They just happened to be the difference in the game. I felt like I threw the ball OK, they just jumped on a couple pitches early and hit them for homers. When I get two quick outs in an inning, I gotta be better than that and be able to shut down the inning. Even after you give up the first homer, you really can't walk the next guy and bring that guy to the plate. Three batters in a row got me." More >
Santana gets out of jam: Santana had some control issues, as noted by his season-high three walks, but only had two runners reach second base on the night, including two runners on with two outs in the sixth after singles from Jed Lowrie and Alonso. But Santana got Ryon Healy to pop up to second baseman Dozier to end the inning and finish his outing.
"I didn't have my fastball command," Santana said. "But I was able to pitch away with my offspeed and put zeros up on the board. I just tried not to think too much and throw the ball low."
"It was pretty incredible. It's something you rarely see now. So just to be a part of a team that hit six home runs is a big accomplishment for us. We'll try to keep it going." -- Buxton, on the six homers
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Sano became the second Twins player to homer into the Catch restaurant above the batter's eye in center field, joining ByungHo Park, who accomplished it last year. Sano's homer was his longest of the season, and the fourth-longest of his career. It was also his fourth-hardest hit homer by exit velocity this year, per Statcast™. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Athletics: Right-hander Kendall Graveman will make his second start off the disabled list and fifth overall Wednesday at Target Field, with first pitch scheduled for 5:10 pm. PT. Graveman (2-1, 2.25 ERA) limited the Angels to two runs in six innings in his last start.
Twins: Left-hander Hector Santiago is set to come off the bereavement list to start against the A's on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Santiago, who left the team on Friday to attend his grandmother's funeral, held the Rangers to two runs over five innings on April 26.