Three extras from the Twins’ fourth walk-off win of the season:
Considering Eduardo Nunez didn’t hit a home run in April, his nine home runs this year — now third on the Twins behind only Miguel Sano’s 11 and Byung Ho Park’s 10 — is remarkable. And the first two-homer game of his career, more than 850 feet of distance, was impressive.
Nunez, after all, is a longtime utility infielder who regularly fills in for third baseman Trevor Plouffe, shortstop Eduardo Escobar and second baseman Brian Dozier. And until Dozier’s dramatic game-winner in the 11th inning, he had hit as many home runs as his three fellow infielders combined.
But there’s one problem with Nunez’s homers, one that’s hardly unique to him. Eight of his nine this season have come with the bases empty, a frustrating trend for Minnesota’s team as a whole.
Of Minnesota’s 61 home runs on the season, 47 of them — or 77 percent — have come with the bases empty. That’s their highest percentage in more than a decade, and far higher than the major-league average of 60.1 percent of homers.
Nunez’s homers weren’t all that manager Paul Molitor liked about his night, however.
“Those were certainly eye-poppers,” the manager said, “but he made a couple nice plays at short. I liked the way he ran the ball out when grounded out, and I liked the at-bat when he hit the ball to right field [an eighth-inning fly to the warning track]. There were a lot of good things out there.”
It’s getting to be routine for Nunez, who entered the night with the fifth-best batting average (.335) in the American League.
“There haven’t been a lot of bright spots this year,” Molitor said, “but he’s obviously been one of the highlights for us.”
Molitor used eight pitchers — “or was it 18?” he joked — just one off the franchise record. But none of them were Trevor May, the right-handed reliever who hasn’t pitched in a week.
Turns out, Molitor said, May “has been a little sore, so we’ve been trying to protect him. I’’m hopeful he’s back and ready to go to work tomorrow.”
The bullpen shouldn’t be too taxed without him, however. The Twins had an off-day on Monday, and though seven relievers pitched Tuesday, none threw more than 20 pitches. And none gave up a run, either, holding the Marlins scoreless for the final six innings.
“Our bullpen really came in, right down the line, and pitched very well,” Molitor said.