MINNEAPOLIS – Apparently, this is what positive regression to the mean looks like.
It looks like Saturday’s outburst may have broken the seal, because the Twins threw baseballs into every nook and cranny at Target Field on Sunday. Minnesota erupted in a seven-run third inning and seven more runs in the eighth, somehow leading to an even bigger blowout in a 16-3 victory that built some much-needed offensive momentum ahead of a big road series against the Dodgers.
Sleepy bats have been awakened in record-breaking fashion, as the Twins’ 29ers in their winning streak over the Cubs scored the most runs in any three-game series at Target Field since the stadium opened in 2010. The 16 runs and 18 strikeouts were both career highs. season, with all nine members of the starting lineup recording at least one hit each.
“Yesterday, it’s obviously just a confidence boost,” left fielder Joey Gallo said of the Twins’ 11-1 victory on Saturday. “Everybody feels good. Everyone gets hits. Everyone drives the ball. I come in today, and it’s like, ‘We’re going to win again. ‘”
It was also promising in that the Twins didn’t just crush Homers; They held out for long runs, with 13 of their runs scored with two outs. They batted twice, scoring a pair of seven runs in one game for the first time since June 13, 2017.
With Minnesota still dominating the starting rotation, continued offensive penetration could mean big things are in store for this team. On Sunday, it was North St. Paul native Louis Farland, the Twins’ seventh starter, who cruised through the season’s sixth 6 1/3 innings in another impressive display of depth for the Twins.
And seemingly throughout the lineup, all at once, the Twins hitters seem to be emerging from extended slumps.
“You’re going to have ups and downs,” Gallo said. “Because of our humiliation, we kept believing. We look at our line-up, we look around our club, we have a really good team. We can swing it. Sometimes you’ll get results. Sometimes you won’t.”
The coaching staff tried to turn things around by moving Gallo into pole position for the first time in his career, and he’s responded with high-dose home runs in back-to-back games – and they expect him to be fine after he walked out of Sunday’s game after looking like he was fine. He pinched his leg as he lunged down the first base line in the seventh inning.
After the twins gave Byron Buxton a day off to reset on Saturday, he snapped a 0-for-26 slide with his first two-stroke game since April 30 — both on hard drives at 111 mph and 94.7 mph, respectively.
“He was focused, ready to go, and in his mind so good even on the days he didn’t get hits,” said coach Rocco Baldelli. “But sometimes, a day off when you’ve been playing for a while, that can help some guys in some ways.”
You can keep walking the line, really.
Nick Gordon has gotten off to a slow start this season, but has smashed three badly hit balls, including an RBI double off the top of the center field wall. Jorge Polanco was in the slump 6-for-34 before hitting two and three-run homers in his last two games. Cristian Vasquez slid off a sliding 2-for-28 in his first game since April 27th.
And Trevor Larnach, in his second game back in the Majors, smashed a three-run homer to right field on a Marcus Stroman slider after struggling against off-pitch pitches for most of his career, particularly when he struggled to collect the ball for the most part of the month.
“I think I stumbled upon it after I came down,” said Larnach. “And if there was some determination there, I don’t think there was anything extra. It was like taking a few days for my body and then focusing on what I feel like I need.”
After the first game of the series, the Twins lamented the fact that they felt like hitting the ball too hard – but still missed chances and played, it seemed, the same close games over and over again. Perhaps a couple of explosive victories will open the door to more.
“You don’t want to be the guy who has a zero-for-5 and beats everybody up,” Gallo said. “You feel responsible: ‘I want to do my part too.’ That’s just kind of how the last few games have gone.”