The Twins rookie outfielder’s tiebreaking shot against Houston had his hitting coach smiling.
One thing the Twins have noticed about Oswaldo Arcia during his recent tour in the majors is that he’s flying around the bases. He did it Saturday when he hit a booming triple to center. And he did it again Sunday when his home run to right was the winning blow in the Twins’ 3-2 victory over Houston.
Arcia wasn’t sure if the ball he hit off Astros righthander Brad Peacock in the seventh inning was going to clear the Target Field wall. So he burned around first base and was closing in on second when the umpires finally signaled a home run. Then he geared down into his longball gallop.
“When you have guys like that rounding first hard and doing all the little things you need to do that’s an adjustment and that is good to see,” first baseman Justin Morneau said.
The Twins won’t mind if Arcia jogs around the bases 30-plus times a season. That means he’s clobbering balls. And that brings us to another good adjustment he made Sunday.
Peacock was just called up from the minors to start Sunday, but he didn’t look very green. He held the Twins to three runs over seven innings on four hits and two walks while striking out 10.
Arcia struck out in the second inning and hit into a fielder’s choice in the fourth. But he learned from each at-bat.
“The whole game he was throwing me away, away, away,” Arcia said through translator Chris Colabello. “In that last at-bat, I tried to learn from his first two and sneak up on him a little bit and got something out over the plate.”
Peacock threw a 3-2 fastball a little up but on the outer half of the plate. Arcia was ready for it and ripped it to right field for the home run.
In the dugout, Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky beamed.
“Those are the things I get excited about because you start to see the hitters see things and take it and apply it,” Brunansky said. “It’s nice that they get results because it makes it easier to teach.
“The home run was a product of him making an adjustment in a situation. We get one in the left-hand column [the win column] out of it, but it’s nice too because we can talk about other issues now that he will take and apply it.”
Arcia is used to crushing opponents in the minors. In the majors, he is running into pitchers with excellent stuff who will try to be unpredictable. It’s important to have a plan at the plate and to adjust to how you are being pitched.
Another encouraging thing from Brunansky: He said it’s fine to use the whole field, but he had no problems with the left-handed-hitting Arcia looking for something away and pulling it into the seats. It’s happened to Twins pitchers so often, it’s good their teammates do it to opponents.
Arcia’s homer helped the Twins finish off a three-game sweep of the lowly Astros and end their homestand 3-3 after getting swept by Kansas City. The Twins’ other runs Sunday were supplied by a two-run, first-inning homer by Morneau. Now 12 games under .500, the Twins get a rematch with the Royals in Kansas City before taking on the White Sox in Chicago.
With the Twins out of contention, eyes will be on Arcia and other inexperienced players for signs that they can be core players in the near future. This is the fourth time Arcia has been called up this season, so he no longer looks out of place in the clubhouse. On the field, he lost his confidence last month after a rash of strikeouts, leading to another demotion to Class AAA Rochester. But he quickly got his game back and was recalled last week after 12 games.
If he can continue to make adjustments on the fly like he did Sunday, Arcia won’t have to worry about returning to Rochester.
“He’s running the balls out, he’s learned a little bit,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Hopefully he’s not going to get too up and down on a roller coaster. We like this young man. He’s very strong and he can put it into the seats.”
La Velle E. Neal • email@example.com