TORONTO — Twins manager Paul Molitor had praise for Jorge Polanco, who doubled twice — but it was an out he made, not the hits, that he was impressed by.
After leading off the third inning by blooping a hit that center fielder Ezequiel Carrera dove for but couldn’t snag, and hustling to an uncovered second base for a double, Polanco moved to third on Eddie Rosario’s single to right, but he was held there by third-base coach Gene Glynn.
Byron Buxton followed with a slow grounder to third, and Polanco headed for home on contact. A mistake, Molitor said.
“At first and third, nobody out, it’s one of those plays where you try to read a swinging bunt,” Molitor said, “because it’s the one ball they’re not going to turn two on.”
Sure enough, Josh Donaldson figured if he was only going to get one out, it might as well be the one trying to score. So he threw home ahead of Polanco, who realized he was a certain out. Instead of accepting the tag, though, he turned around and headed back to third base, getting into a rundown. He was finally tagged out — but only after forcing the Jays to make four more throws and giving Rosario and Buxton time to advance to third and second bases.
“He recognized his only play was to try to advance the runners, and he did that,” Molitor said. “That’s your job. If you’re going to get caught trying to beat a play to the plate, you try to advance them if you can. And he stayed in there for [four] throws.”
Miguel Sano told the Twins’ athletic training staff in Minneapolis that “he’s feeling better — that’s the word he used,” according to Molitor, though he didn’t sound optimistic that the slugger will be ready to come off the disabled list Wednesday. “It’s the same news today, basically. Progress still slow.”
With the Twins at home next week, he said, “I think we’re hopeful that some of the baseball things start to come back beginning Tuesday, but I can’t guarantee that, either.”
It’s possible that Sano, out a week after fouling a ball off his left shin, might be limited to designated hitter duties at first, the manager added. “That’s something we’ll have to be open-minded about,” Molitor said, “whether it’s because he’s only capable of that, or it’s because we want to find ways to keep him out there for however many games remain.”
Joe Mauer had eight hits in the three games in Toronto, capping a pretty great month for the 34-year-old first baseman. Mauer had a hit in seven of the road trip’s eight games, batting .364, and has hits in 11 of his last 12 games.
“I’m really happy that Joe’s doing what he’s doing,” Molitor said. “He’s still a leader in that clubhouse.”
Mauer has 30 hits in 69 at-bats since Aug. 10, a .435 average that has made him the Twins’ leading hitter — he’s at the brink of .300, at .296 now — once more.
“He just takes good at-bats. Besides the hits, how many balls has he hit on the nose that end up in the shortstop’s or left fielder’s gloves?” the manager said. “After being here for however-many years , he’s still a main cog for us.”
Byron Buxton’s throw to home plate may have beaten Miguel Montero in the second inning, Molitor said, but it short-hopped catcher Chris Gimenez, whose attempt at a sweep tag didn’t make contact with the runner. “I figured it was my only chance to get him,” Gimenez said, demonstrating how he tried to catch and turn with one motion. “But I don’t think I touched him.”