Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Cooler, where we grow closer every day to having a new favorite Twins player. Let’s get to it:
*I have not hidden my affection for Twins utility man/catcher Willians Astudillo and his approach at the plate — the antithesis of everything slowing the game down these days.
He has 48 plate appearances in the majors this season and has continued very nicely along his minor league trend line. Walks? Zero. Strikeouts? Two. Pitches seen per plate appearance? A paltry 2.92.
In a game where extending counts is valued and striking out is suddenly not taboo, Astudillo is the antidote (and his .511 slugging percentage in that small sample size shows that while he could stand to be maybe a little more patient, there is something to seeing the ball and hitting the ball).
On Wednesday, the legend of Astudillo — La Tortuga, the turtle — grew considerably. After smacking an RBI single (second pitch) to give the Twins a valuable insurance run against the Yankees, Astudillo chugged home from first base on Max Kepler’s double in the gap. Astudillo, generously listed at 5-9, 225 pounds with flowing hair, was a sight to behold.
The video has been circulating through the masses, with Deadspin calling Astudillo “a true sports hero.”
In case you missed the play in question, here it is in all its glory:
“I just wanted to show that chubby people also run,” he said postgame through an interpreter.
Sometimes the Internet can go overboard celebrating (and shaming, whether intentionally or unintentionally) the deeds of plus-size athletes. Hopefully Astudillo truly embraces his form as much as it seems and isn’t just playing along because he has no other choice.
*The view of Thursday’s 3-1 Twins win over the Yankees was quite favorable here in Minnesota. Not only did we have Astudillo’s heroics, but Jake Odorizzi threw 7 1/3 no-hit innings against the formidable Bronx Bombers.
It added up to a series victory, which doesn’t mean much in the big picture of a disappointing Twins season but is at least a nice small win.
In New York, however, the view was far from flattering — and the damage was significant.
The New York Post, in typical fashion, showed no restraint.
The Yankees lost ground in the Wild Card race and are now just a game ahead of Oakland for the first wild card. If they end up having to play that one-game, winner-take-all round on the road, they might be having nightmares about the past two nights at Target Field.
*From Bleacher Report’s Mirin Fader: A sad, well-written tale of a youth football player who suffered a concussion and later took his own life. What we don’t know about head trauma might still be the most frightening thing of all.