MINNEAPOLIS — With smoke billowing at the back end of the bullpen and a late-game lead gone, the Twins’ offense was activated at just the right time on Monday night.
Rookie Edouard Julien scored the game-winning solo homer in the eighth inning, waking up the Twins’ offense to sweep the Kansas City Royals, 8-4, in front of 28,218 spectators on Target Field. . Carlos Correa also went 4-for-5 with five runs, helping the Twins return to a .500 batting average and give Cleveland a one-game lead in the American League Central.
Five days after holding a players-only meeting in Atlanta and rearranging their pregame approach, the Twins produced one of the most perfect innings of the season. That included Julian’s home run, free pass, field hit on the other side, laser down the line, and bunt base.
“When you combine a good swing with a tough at-bat, that’s what it feels like,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “Julian went out and scored one, which obviously put us in a better position in the game. But then Joey Gallo hit a good at-bat, and after that we had some I followed it with a tough at-bat.I really liked what I saw.”
Before the game, the Twins players seemed to agree that they liked the feel of the new-hitters meeting. Previously, daily sessions were run by the coaching staff, providing detailed scouting reports on offensive plans and what to expect, but now the team’s hitters lead the meetings.
Most players agree that there isn’t much of a difference. Correa said he still relies heavily on hitting coach David Popkins for how his team will attack when he’s at bat.
But unlike before, players share their opinions on what a particular pitcher is like and how they plan to attack.
“There’s a lot better communication about pitchers,” said outfielder Max Kepler, who had an excellent catch in the eighth inning with two hits and one RBI. “We’ve been doing it since the beginning, but now we just do it differently.”
Everyone agrees that the Twins operate differently. No one is telling you to work harder. On the contrary, Baldelli suggested in a rant last Wednesday that his players were already working “as hard as they could” and just needed to think differently.
He described the atmosphere of the lengthy meeting as positive, but designated hitter Byron Buxton, who went 0-for-3 with 2 sacrifice flies and 2 RBIs, noted the lack of coach involvement. Other than that, he didn’t say much about the details.
“You guys aren’t going to get much out of me,” Buxton said. “I’m just going to let you know this. That’s who we are. That’s what we came up with as one of us. It happened behind closed doors because that’s where it’s supposed to be. … Nothing’s changed.” No, we’re just running our own conferences and taking responsibility for our actions because, at the end of the day, that’s our career. It’s us, and it’s up to us to continue to find ways to work together.”
Monday’s production was just in time.
Closer Joan Durand was off limits, but Baldelli preferred to stay away from set-up man Griffin Jacks unless absolutely necessary. Without the already injured Brock Stewart and Jorge Lopez, who is on the disabled list for mental health reasons, in the bullpen, Baldelli was working with a very thin group full of green relievers.
The Twins seemed invincible until the bottom of the eighth when rookie Brent Hedrick hit a tying solo home run by Nick Pratt.
However, Julian was expected to pinch hit in the second half of the inning, but panicked when he was informed that he was leading, he grabbed his teammate’s elbow guard as he was nowhere to be found and pinch hitter. An impatient Julian wanted relief pitcher Taylor Clarke to have a good slider and avoid two strikes. Julian pounced on the first pitch after Clark left a 96 mph fastball over the middle.
“I didn’t hit the leadoff and thought I was going into four holes,” Julian said. “If anyone got on base, I was going to hit four holes. I was late too. As I sat on the couch, they yelled, ‘Eddie, you lead!’ I rushed back to the dugout, but I couldn’t find the elbow guard. It wasn’t there. I just randomly picked an elbow guard and put it on, and I had no idea what the pitcher was holding. I just shook it. “
His 413-foot drive quickly turned the tide in favor of the Twins.
Willi Castro ran out to right field hitter, Gallo followed with a one-out walk, and Christian Vazquez reached out and threw a one-strike slider into the right field line to advance to third base. In the inning after the game was played catch, Michael A. Taylor hit a base on a bunt to make it 5-3. Kepler followed with an RBI shot, and Correa went through the left side and scored the RBI.
Alex Kirillov followed with a second of two hits to add a run, putting the Twins behind by five. The rally allowed Jax, who started warming up with the Twins leading 4-3, to sit out briefly, but then briefly re-throw as Emilio Pagan struggled in the ninth inning.
The outburst helped turn around what seemed like another game with too many goals remaining.
Leading 1-0 in the first inning, Correa put the Twins ahead with a hustle double, advanced to third on Donovan Solano’s single, and scored on Buxton’s line drive sack fly to left. The Twins took a 2–1 lead when Castro stole second base on a walk and Taylor scored on a timely hit to right-center to the far side.
In the fifth inning, Kepler and Correa singled, and Solano stepped forward on Buxton’s fly deep to center for the third run.
But the Twins lost two in the fifth and one in scoring position in the sixth, leaving Kansas City to persevere.
The Twins scored like an avalanche late in the game, giving them their third win with four tries since being wiped out against Atlanta when a three-point deficit felt like a 10-point deficit. The Twins also scored eight points in the series opener in Baltimore on Friday. The offense, which has been out for most of the season, is starting to fix that issue, raising hopes.
But last week’s meeting doesn’t necessarily guarantee a panacea or solution. The result wasn’t perfect, as the Twins scored once on Saturday and once on Sunday. But even without results, the Twins liked their approach to those contests and thought they were very different from the languid series in Atlanta.
“Looking at our at-bats in the Atlanta Series, at some point we’re going to have to make adjustments to strike out less and be more competitive,” Correa said. “When you look at the best teams, they have long plate appearances and they’re always at bat. They’re tough on the pitchers. . It’s about being able to build, and it was a perfect example of that.”
hot correa after moving to the leadoff spot
In the first inning, Correa doubled a grounder to center front. His single in the bottom of the third was a bleed to center. He singled to right in the fifth inning and hit one into the hole in the eighth to go 4-for-5.
It was Correa’s first four-hit game of the season and the 12th of his career.
“He was shooting and flicking and doing all sorts of things,” Baldelli said. “But that’s what a good hitter has to do and he’s doing it now. He’s on base for us. He’s making things happen.” ”
Since taking the leadoff spot four games ago, Correa has gone 8-for-17.
“I feel great,” Correa said. “I’ve always talked about trying to have a better two-strike approach, and I’m just trying to lead by example, not just go out and be a slugger, I’m trying to be a hitter.” Right now I’m just trying to hit the ball on the line. “
Lewis out at least six weeks with oblique muscle injury
Lois Lewis said his mother, Cindy, realized he was injured the moment he left Saturday’s game. Lewis learned on Monday that his own oblique injury was ruled a grade 2 contusion and is expected to be out of action for at least six weeks, Baldelli said.
Lewis, who returned to the major leagues on May 29, a year after a torn ACL, said he felt an immediate pain in his left flank that increased as he approached first base. The rookie has appeared in 99 plate appearances, batting .326/.354/.474 with four homers and 15 RBIs.
“I felt like someone stabbed me in the back with a knife,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to be hurt, I’m just standing by. That’s how it is. At the same time, I can only control what I can control. I can’t control whether I have a torticollis[injury]so now I’m like, ‘Where do I go from here?’ are you going to?” Just like ACLs. Knock on the tree, this year is not the year. That will definitely make things a lot easier. My stay at IL was always a full year and I had no control over how I could or could not return. So it becomes very easy. I don’t really know what the deal is yet. I am waiting to speak to the doctor. “
(Photo by Edouard Julien: David Barding/Getty Images)
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