Wetmore: 5 thoughts on fielding, Polanco's big hit, and new suits
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The Twins scored four runs in the 9th inning, including a big hit from rookie Jorge Polanco, but could not overcome an early deficit and lost to the Rangers, 5-4.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Friday's game.
As always, feel free to ask questions or make 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. Jorge Polanco made his Major League debut Thursday night, with a pinch-hit walk and a run. That walk came on four pitches. Friday, then, was the first time Polanco swung a bat in the Major Leagues, when he pinch hit for Pedro Florimon in the eighth inning. He took five consecutive pitches to work the count full, then grounded out to second base. He stayed in the game at shortstop.
He then had a big hit in the 9th inning, when he drove in two runs with a triple down the right field line on an 0-2 pitch. That made it 5-4 Rangers with one out and Brian Dozier coming to the plate.
With Danny Santana going on the 15-day disabled list, Polanco might be around for a while. But Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Nunez are eligible to return from the DL on Monday, so it is possible he won't stay all that long. My guess is that when he's no longer needed as an insurance policy on the Major League roster he'll be optioned either back to High-A Fort Myers or to Double-A New Britain.
2. Kevin Correia made a fine fielding play to end the second inning. Luis Sardinas hit a dribbling ground ball toward first baseman Joe Mauer that acted almost like a bunt would have. There appeared to be confusion on the play between Mauer and Correia, as Mauer got caught in between covering first base and fielding the ball. Mauer hesitated, and Correia, who had been on course to cover the bag, instead reached down for the ball, grabbed it with his glove and dove to tag first base with his glove. It was a nice fielding display for Correia.
It also illustrated that Mauer probably still is not comfortable on every play in the field. Every player can stand on the bag and catch throws from infielders. One thing that sets apart elite first baseman -- aside from glove work fielding errant throws -- is reading those 'in between' balls, and similar balls hit in between second base and first base.
3. Correia gave up two runs in the fifth inning that might not have scored with a better left fielder. With one out, Josh Willingham came up short diving for a ball hit by Luis Sardinas near the left field foul line. Chris Gimenez scored from first on the play. Correia then got a pop out, which would have been the third out (with no runs scored) had a left fielder ranged far enough to catch the ball Willingham missed.
Then Shin-Soo Choo doubled to the wall on a ball that appeared to hit in Willingham's glove and pop out as he hit the wall. Sardinas scored on the play. (To be fair, both balls were hit well, and it looked like Correia tried to go inside against the lefty Choo but missed his spot all the way to the outside part of the plate.)
I wouldn't say Correia pitched great Friday, but the fifth inning was an illustration of the importance of having outfielders with range. Benjamin Franklin's philosophy on saving money (pennies) also applies to fielding in baseball. A run saved is a run earned.
4. The Twins scored four runs in the 9th inning, but had been held scoreless before that, mostly by Nick Tepesch. He allowed just three hits in 7 1/3 innings
Perhaps their next best chance to score came in the fourth inning. Joe Mauer singled with one out and Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch. Kendrys Morales lined out to center and Oswaldo Arcia drew a walk to load the bases with two outs.
But Eduardo Escobar took a called third strike on a breaking ball and stranded three runners.
5. What do you do after you get swept by one of the best teams in baseball?
You step up your suit game.