Postgame: Suzuki takes one on the chin
- Blog Post by: Phil Miller
- August 30, 2014 - 10:53 PM
A few leftover tidbits from an interesting night at Camden Yards:
A WARRIOR'S CHIN: They knew he could catch, but I'm not sure the Twins realized just how tough Kurt Suzuki is. They understand now. The 30-year-old catcher has taken a beating from foul tips all season, but in the fourth inning tonight, when Nick Markakis lined a foul ball off the right side of his jaw, the crowd audibly winced in sympath. Suzuki, who has been feeling sick from the flu all week but has played every game but one anyway, simply rolled over and laid there, while trainer Tony Leo and manager Ron Gardenhire rushed out. "Right away, I said, 'You want to get out of here?' " Gardenhire said. "And he said 'No, thank you. Just give me a minute to gather myself.' " After about three minutes of clearing his head, he stayed in the game, much to the amazement of pitcher Kyle Gibson. "He's impressive. I felt bad, because I feel like there's a lot of foul balls when I'm on the mound," Gibson said, shaking his head. "Changeup that Markakis got underneath. Being down low, you never expect a guy to foul a ball up into your chin. ... He's a warrior back there."
KEEP ON SWINGING: Oswaldo Arcia is in a 3-for-27 (.111) slump, but Gardenhire didn't hesitate to give him the green light on a 3-0 pitch from Chris Tillman in the third inning Saturday. He's trying to keep Arcia's confidence intact. "I've got to show confidence in that kid. Right now, he's going through some scuffles, but I don't want to bury him and tell him to start taking pitches," Gardenhire said. "He just missed the ball. I like to see him swinging." The Twins have been working with Arcia to lay off high pitches, and he just missed Tillman's pitch, hitting a fly ball to left-center field. Next time up, he drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. And he only struck out once -- an improvement on the four he had one night earlier.
RUNNING TOO HARD: The game's decisive run scored on a fly ball to shallow left-center, with Adam Jones tagging up and easily beating an off-line throw home. Danny Santana made the catch, but took two or three steps before throwing the ball. Couldn't be helped, Gardenhire said; a lot of outfielders might not have made the play at all. "He had to run 18,000 miles, and then he couldn't stop. He was running so fast to catch the ball, he had to try to slow himself down to throw the ball," the manager said of his rookie shortstop-turned-outfielder. "He was just coming too hard -- which he had to do because it was a shallow ball -- to try to set his feet and throw. He never got his feet set."
JOE, ALBERT AND KENNYS: Speaking of Santana, he had two hits on Saturday, as did fellow rookie Kennys Vargas. That gives the pair 77 total hits in August, tying them with Fred Lynn and Jim Rice for the most hits by rookie teammates in a month since 1975. Unless they have a huge day Sunday the 31st, they probably can't equal the Twins' record of 84, set by Bernie Allen and Rich Rollins in 1962. And they definitely can't equal the major-league record of 93, set in 1938 by Indians Ken Keltner and Jeff Heath. Still, some impressive company. Not as impressive, though, as the company Vargas is keeping with his hot start. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three hitters have ever collected 34 or more hits and 24 or more RBIs (admittedly, some conveniently arbitrary criteria, but still) in their debut month: Joe DiMaggio (48 and 28 in May 1936), Albert Pujols (34 and 27 in 2001) -- and Vargas.
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