OAKLAND, CALIF. — Dylan Bundy didn't pitch long on Tuesday, but it went well. Josh Winder pitched a little too long, and it didn't.
The result was the end of the Twins' mastery over the Athletics, and a 5-2 loss at Oakland Coliseum.
More important, manager Rocco Baldelli said, was that his bullpen, one of the most effective in the AL but also the second-most-heavily used, got a much-needed break, everyone but Caleb Thielbar.
"Today was a day where we weren't going to be able to just send a bunch of guys out there to finish the game. And so we were going to lean on Dylan and we were going to lean on Josh," Baldelli said of watching Winder surrender three runs in the seventh inning, his fourth inning of work. "There's no good way to lose a ballgame, ever. But obviously, it doesn't feel good to watch it happen."
With Joe Smith and Emilio Pagan having pitched three consecutive games over the weekend, and Jhoan Duran and Tyler Duffey working in two of the past three apiece, Baldelli was determined not to call upon the pitchers he relies on to protect leads. So when Winder walked Jed Lowrie on five pitches to open the seventh inning of a game tied 2-2, and hit Ramon Laureano in the shoulder with a fastball, pitching coach Wes Johnson visited the mound, but no reliever started warming up.
When the game resumed, Seth Brown doubled home the tie-breaking run, and Sean Murphy looped a single into short center field, scoring two more runs and finally producing stirring in the Twins' dugout. Even so, Winder faced three more hitters, the last two of them who singled, before Thielbar took over.
In all, Winder gave up five runs on nine hits, adding more than a run to his ERA — from 2.45 to 3.68 — in his roughest outing as a big-leaguer to date. The five runs matched the A's total in their first four games against Minnesota this season, all Twins' victories.
"We didn't have too much of a choice," Baldelli said. "We're not talking fresh, we're just talking available and ready to pitch today — there weren't a ton of names to choose from. And that's OK because we've been winning games because of those guys."
After Thursday's off day, Baldelli pointed out, the Twins will play 18 games over the following 17 days, "and we can't afford to have our bullpen on fumes in a run like that."
While one rookie found life difficult on Tuesday, another continued to flourish — ironically, in his final game as a current Twin. Royce Lewis led off the third inning with a double and clubbed his second home run in the fifth inning, but learned after the game he is being optioned back to Class AAA St. Paul so that Carlos Correa can be restored to the active roster.
Lewis also came to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, but grounded out to end the threat.
Gary Sanchez homered for the second straight game, the first time he's done that as a Twin. Sanchez is batting .317 in the past five games, and 12 of his last 14 hits have been for extra bases.
But, as has been the case for 13 of their last 15 home runs, both of the Twins' blasts were solo shots, and they were unable to add any more runs against A's righthander James Kaprielian and three Oakland relievers.
Bundy, meanwhile, returned from the COVID list with three shutout innings in his first outing since May 4. The veteran righthander wasn't sharp, allowing two hits and two walks, but he pitched out of trouble in each of his innings.
"That was just what we wanted to see from Dylan. It was a good outing," Baldelli said. "He gave us three scoreless [innings], threw 50-something  pitches. That was right in line with where we thought he was going to go."