Strange to start a series with a day game. Here are a few extra things that happened this afternoon:
Twins manager Paul Molitor wasn’t directly critical, but it sounded like he wasn’t pleased with Eduardo Escobar’s decision to bunt after Kurt Suzuki’s leadoff double in the third inning. Escobar shoved his bat at the first pitch, a 96-mph fastball, and popped it up behind him, an easy play for catcher Russell Martin.
It sounds like Molitor was asking Escobar to move the runner up by hitting a ground ball to the right side, but the shortstop chose a different tack.
“I wanted to advance the runner there. Price had been working our right-handed hitters away, primarily … [so] I thought we would take a shot at trying to hit the ball the other way,” Molitor said. “I haven’t talked to him yet, but he decided the best chance to get him over was to go ahead and try to bunt. With that choice being made, there wasn’t execution, obviously.”
Blaine Boyer replaced Ervin Santana in the seventh inning, and immediately walked the first batter he faced, Troy Tulowitzki. That’s not unusual. But it is a problem.
Boyer has appeared in 48 games now, and in 20 of them, he’s allowed the first batter to reach base, 15 on hits and five via walks. That’s a .417 on-base percentage, making it harder for Molitor to trust him with a narrow lead.
“We’ve talked about it. [Pitching coach Neil Allen and bullpen coach Eddie Guardado] have talked to him about it. It’s one of those things where the more you know you’re doing something you shouldn’t do, the harder it is sometimes to stop it,” Molitor said. “Leadoff walks bite you more times than not. He’s had that happen back in Kansas City a couple of times, he seemed to be coming out of it, but today it came back again.”
Sure enough, Tulowitzki scored when Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Smoak hit back-to-back two-out singles.
Sold-out Rogers Centre was electric on Monday, and after the game, Molitor noted with a straight face that “I’ve seen that atmosphere before.” He has indeed, having won a World Championship here back in 1993. He only spent three seasons in Toronto, so it wasn’t quite the same as his visit to Milwaukee, where he played 15 seasons. But he left no doubt that he enjoys this place.
“Three real special years. I had a chance to win a world series here, which is the highlight” of his career, Molitor said. “Love the city, love the fans. They came out four million strong for us, which is an incredible number. I think the fans here still remember that chapter fairly well, because of the back-to-back championships, and it was nice to be a part of that.”