Yet another loss for the Twins, but there were some unusual aspects to the game, too:
Oswaldo Arcia looked in as usual for a signal about where to play from Butch Davis, who positions the Twins’ outfielders. With the Twins trying to keep Thursday’s game tied in the 11th inning, the no-doubles defense — play deep so everything to the outfield is either caught or falls in for a single — was in effect.
“[Davis signaled] back, back. Go back,” Arcia said of his positioning when Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who had already homered in the sixth inning, came to the plate. “They say back, back, back. OK, back. … Right here? Yeah.”
And that’s how Arcia found himself standing on the warning track, about five feet in front of Target Field’s left-field wall. It’s not the first time he’s played that deep, Arcia said, but it’s certainly an extreme.
“We were protecting doubles there in a tie game late. I didn’t notice he was on the track, particularly,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I looked down at Butch a couple time. I have my signs with him and he moves them. I know we were playing deep.”
It worked, sort of. Encarnacion didn’t double, but he poked a line drive over shortstop Eduardo Nunez’s head, a single that Arcia couldn’t have reached even if he had been playing normal depth. Arcia hustled to reach the ball, and the hit ultimately triggered Toronto’s game-winning rally.
Justin Smoak was the next hitter, and Arcia moved in a couple of steps, this time playing on the edge of the outfield grass. Smoke also singled into short left, causing Arcia to race forward to retrieve it, too. Troy Tulowitzki’s single that scored Toronto’s game-winning run went to center, not left.
It was a crazy game for Arcia at the plate, too, considering he did something he’s never done as a major leaguer before: Bunt.
With the Jays’ infielders playing deep against him, Arcia squared around in the fifth inning, and bunted toward the pitcher. As he raced to first base, catcher Russell Martin grabbed the ball and fired to first for the out.
It was the first time Arcia has ever put a bunt in play in the majors — zero sacrifice bunts, zero bunt singles, zero bunt outs, until now — but Arcia, undaunted, suggested it won’t be his last.
“A little bit more hard, base hit,” Arcia said. “If I hit [toward] third base, maybe shortstop … “
One day after their defense committed three errors in an ugly 6-3 loss to the Tigers, the Twins were twice saved by great run-saving plays on Thursday.
Closer Kevin Jepsen, after striking out Encarnacion and Smoak to open the ninth, surrendered a double to the warning track in right-center by Michael Saunders. Troy Tulowitzki followed with another blast to left center, but Santana streaked toward the bullpen, catching up with it two steps in front of the fence.
“As I was running toward the ball, I was going to catch it,” Santana said. “No matter if I hit the fence or not, I was going to catch it.”
An inning later, another superb defensive play preserved the tie. Brandon Kintzler allowed a leadoff single to Jimmy Paredes, but Kintzler forced three ground balls to escape — the last one a smash to shortstop Eduardo Nunez’s left that he speared, then threw to Mauer at first base from one knee.