Noda’s 16th homer helped Oakland rebound after Minnesota had tied the game in the sixth. It was just the third win in the past 14 games for the Athletics, who avoided being swept and temporarily eluded their 111th loss, which would be the most in the majors since Detroit lost 114 games in 2019.
Lucas Erceg (4-4) won in relief of Luis Medina, who allowed one run over six innings in, perhaps, his best big league start. Erceg walked three in his one inning but struck out Donovan Solano with the bases loaded in the seventh in a 12-pitch at-bat.
“Lucas has, I call it the ‘It' factor," Kotsay said. "This kid has got grit and that was a battle. It’s a professional hitter that was competing and that he showed the will to win. That was probably the momentum changer in the game right there.”
Trevor May worked around Matt Wallner's one-out double for his 21st save in 24 chances.
Minnesota, which clinched the division title last week, used the three games against the A’s to get measured workloads for many pitchers, using planned committees on most days.
Kenta Maeda (6-8), who will likely be used in relief in the postseason, took the loss in relief of Sonny Gray. Maeda allowed just one hit – Noda’s homer – in 3 1/3 innings.
“We got good work for (Gray),” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We got good work for Kenta. We got good work for Louie (Varland). We’re nice and lined up with those guys as far as what we were looking for. So, in that regard, it was successful."
Medina ended his first season in the majors by getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. He had issued a walk, allowed a single to Solano and hit a batter. But a double-play followed by a groundout got the right-hander out of the inning.
“He’s got that fire, that competitive edge," catcher Shea Langeliers said of Medina. "He wants to be the best version of himself every day and that’s just something that we’re all trying to take together as a team, and he’s done a really good job since he’s been up.”
Gray gave up one run and three hits in four innings in his final regular-season start. Gray lowered his ERA to 2.79, second in the AL to New York’s Gerrit Cole (2.63) and the lowest for a Twins starter in a full season since Johan Santana's league-leading 2.77 in 2006.
Gray, who will start the second game of the playoffs next week, had 183 strikeouts in 184 innings, his most strikeouts since 2019 and most innings since 2015. A former Oakland first-round draft pick, Gray had the lowest home runs-per-nine inning ratio (0.39) in the majors this season and the lowest in a Twins season.
“For the most part, I was fairly consistent,” Gray said. “I felt very happy about making all of my starts whenever my name was called and that’s it. But for me, it doesn’t stop now.”
GET TO KNOW ’EM
By drawing 19,466 fans to Target Field for the final regular season home game, the Twins ended at 1,974,124. The 24,372 average was their highest since 2019's 28,323, a year they drew 2,294,152. Minnesota drew 1,801,128 last season when they missed the playoffs for the second straight year, an average of 22,514.
Athletics: OF Seth Brown left with left oblique soreness. Tyler Soderstrom pinch-hit for Brown, who was the DH, in the sixth. Brown also came up sore after a diving attempt in the outfield the previous night.
Twins: Manager Rocco Baldelli said SS Carlos Correa (plantar fasciitis) won’t join the team for the trip to Colorado. Correa will join other injured players working out at Target Field while the team is on the road.
Athletics: Oakland ends the season at the Los Angeles Angels, starting LHP Ken Waldichuk (4-8, 5.29 ERA) on Friday against RHP Chase Silseth (4-1, 4.10).
Twins: RHP Joe Ryan (11-10, 4.31) will be opposed Friday by LHP Ty Blach (3-3, 5.42).
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