Wetmore: 5 thoughts, Mauer drives in runs, Morales puts on a glove
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This column presents 5 thoughts from Saturday's game.
As always, feel free to ask any questions or make any observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. Kevin Correia gave up a run on a pair of hits that reminded viewers that baseball is weird sometimes.
Conor Gillaspie hit a two-out sinking line drive to center field and Sam Fuld charged in and dove to try to make the catch in shallow center field. He missed, and the ball rolled past him all the way to the warning track before left fielder Chris Parmelee could track it down and throw it to the infield. Gillaspie's speed is average or below, and it took him a moment to realize the ball got by Fuld. By the time Parmelee's throw reached the infield, Gillaspie checked in at third base with his fifth career triple in 707 plate appearances. Yes, Correia permitted the hit, but it's Fuld's fault it rolled all the way to the wall.
The next batter, Jose Abreu, has big power and lofted a ball to right-center field that narrowly missed leaving the yard when it hit the top of the tallest wall in the outfield at Target Field. Gillaspie scored easily, but Fuld played the ball off the wall and quickly returned it to the infield to limit Abreu to a single.
A triple that could have been a single followed by a single that could have been a home run. Baseball is weird sometimes.
2. Kendrys Morales played first base Saturday for the first time since signing with the Twins. His pre-game evaluation of his own fielding was that he's a so-so defender. Defensive metrics and the eye test agree with that assessment. It's hard to be a terrible defender at first base, so Morales isn't some incredible liability in the field if he plays there once every seven or 10 days or so.
3. Brian Dozier was faced with a very similar play in the second inning to the one he made to save Friday's game. With the bases loaded, one out and the speedy Alex Ramirez on third base, Dozier fielded a soft-hit ground ball on the infield grass. Friday, Dozier fielded a grounder hit slightly harder and turned a 4-6-3 double play to end the ninth inning and set up his walk-off heroics. Saturday, Dozier wouldn't have had time for a double play, so he charged the ball and threw home to force out the lead runner.
Correia hit the next batter to force home a run, but then got a ground ball out to Dozier to escape the inning and leave the bases loaded.
4. Joe Mauer hit a double off the left field wall to drive in two runs and give the Twins the lead in the fifth inning. Mauer hitting to the opposite field with authority is a good sign for the Twins. He scored one batter later when the White Sox had Alexei Ramirez shifted to the second-base side of the bag, and Kendrys Morales lined a single right through where a shortstop ordinarily plays.
If you told me in February that entering June 21 (the first day of summer), Joe Mauer will be 65 points away from his career batting average.
My response would have probably been, 'Wow, a .388 batting average that late in the season is pretty impressive. That's incredible.'
Instead, Mauer began summer hitting 65 points in the opposite direction, at .258. June is the first month Mauer has had more than one game in a month in which he drove in multiple runs. Put another way: Mauer had a 3-RBI game in April; he had a 4-RBI game in May; and now in June, he has two multi-RBI games. Otherwise, each of his RBIs have come one at a time. The fact that he has just 20 RBIs at this point in the season is awfully surprising, considering he has batted .327 with runners in scoring position for his career.
5. A couple Vikings rookies were involved in pre-game festivities Saturday. Minnesota's top choice in this year's draft, linebacker Anthony Barr, threw out the first pitch and competed in the home run derby with third-round running back Jerick McKinnon.
They may not have hit many balls over the fence, but they got to chat briefly with Twins legend Tony Oliva.