Twins Insider Logo

Blog

Twins Insider

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Postgame: Polanco's bunt attempt didn't go well; Gimenez's homer did

    BOSTON — Three extras from an eventful night in Fenway Park:

    When the Twins put two runners on base with nobody out in the seventh inning, Paul Molitor decided to ask Jorge Polanco to bunt them into scoring position. It didn’t go well.

    Polanco took a ball from Chris Sale, but then was charged with a strike on the second pitch when first-base umpire Jeff Kellogg ruled he had attempted to bunt a pitch that nearly hit his leg. Twins manager Paul Molitor wasn’t happy with the call. “Now he’s only got one pitch to get the ball down,” Molitor grumbled.

    That one didn’t go well, either. Polanco, who has only one sacrifice bunt this season, fouled off Sale’s next pitch, then struck out on a slider. It was the second straight game that Polanco failed to lay down a sacrifice when Molitor signaled for one.

    Bunting “should be a part of most guys’ game,” Molitor said. “Is Chris Sale an easy guy to bunt? Probably not. And he got one strike taken away from him. He’s one of our diligent early [workout] guys, so I know it’s not lack of work. Bunting off a coach or a machine is a little different than when a guy can throw that hard, but you’ve got to get it down. I think he got it a little too fine on the second attempt — just get it on the grass somewhere instead of trying to get it down the line.”

XXX

    Had Polanco successfully bunted, Molitor had another change in mind, too. He had Joe Mauer on the bench, and was considering sending him up to pinch-hit for catcher Chris Gimenez, who had hit a tremendous home run earlier in the game.

    “I was considering doing that. I don’t like to go too long in a ballgame with one catcher. If we advance the runners, I probably was going to pull the trigger,” the manager explained. “But once we didn’t get the guy over, I went ahead and let Gimmy take a shot at it.”

    That didn’t work out any better than Polanco’s bunt. Facing reliever Heath Hembree, Gimenez grounded a 2-2 cutter to third baseman Tzu-Wei Lin, who triggered an easy 5-4-3 double play, ending the inning.

    “That pitch backed up, and he got away with it,” Gimenez said. “Sometimes you can do everything wrong and get away with it. He left it in the middle of the plate, and I let him off the hook.”

XXX

    Speaking of Gimenez, he hit one of the longest home runs of his career in the third inning, crushing the ball completely out of Fenway Park. It was Gimenez’s fifth home run of the season, which ties his career high set in 2015. It also marks just the second time in his career that he has homered in back-to-back starts; he hit one on Friday in Cleveland.

    But none of that was the weird part, at least to Molitor.

    “The surprising part to me was that it was an off speed pitch,” the manager said. “He’s kind of a dead-red guy. But he got a hanging slider. It’s good to see — he’s been contributing when he’s been out there.”

    Even Gimenez admitted he was surprised at how far the ball went — or that it went at all.

    “I felt like I saw the first one he threw really well. He threw another and I just tried to get out front,” Gimenez said. “It feels like the first one I’ve ever hit off an off-speed pitch. And it might be, against a lefty.”

Berrios 'won't be overwhelmed' by his Fenway debut, Molitor says

    BOSTON — Few AL starters are as familiar to the Twins as Chris Sale. None of the Red Sox have ever taken even a single at-bat against Jose Berrios. So maybe we’ll find out how much familiarity matters tonight when the first-place Twins open a four-game series in Fenway Park tonight.

    Sale may be the runaway strikeout leader in the AL this year and own the fourth-best ERA thus far. But the Twins have hung six losses on him over the years, four of them in 2015, when they kept smacking him around like a rookie junkballer. Sale had a 7.36 ERA in six starts against Minnesota that season, a stretch that has little to do with tonight’s game, yet can’t help but give the Twins a little confidence, even now.

    “I’m not banking on the past success. I know what Chris is capable of,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We know it’s tough when you face a guy like Chris. [We have to] try to have good at-bats and don’t get frustrated by a punch-out early in the game. Take each at-bat on its own and try to make the next one count.”

    Twins rookies did the usual on-the-field-early tour of this 105-year-old park this afternoon, a familiar ritual to Molitor. “You remember the first time you come here. For me, it was as a collegiate player. I got to watch Carl Yastrzemski take batting practice as he was recovering from an injury,” Molitor said, one Hall of Fame speaking of another. “It’s a great place to play. It’s unique, the angles are unique, the fans are unique. For the guys coming here for the first time, it’s a special occurrence.”

    That goes for Berrios, too, since he’s never pitched here before. But Molitor doesn’t think the righthander’s composure will be a problem.

    “He’s been through enough, between his experiences up here and the WBC,” the manager said. “It’s going to be exciting for him, but I don’t think it will overwhelm him by any  means.”

    The Red Sox just lost two straight games to the Angels this weekend, after losing two of three in Kansas City, so the home fans are a little restless as this matchup of first-place teams gets underway.

    Here are the lineups for the first of four games against Boston:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Escobar DH

Sano 3B

Grossman RF

Vargas 1B

Polanco SS

Gimenez C

Rosario LF

Buxton CF

 

Berrios RHP

 

RED SOX

 

Betts RF

Pedroia 2B

Bogaerts SS

Moreland 1B

Benintendi LF

Young DH

Bradley CF

Leon C

Lin 3B

 

Sale LHP

Final, 6/26 R H E
Minnesota 39-35 1 4 0
Boston 42-34 4 9 0

Poll: What are the Twins chances of making the playoffs?

See more polls