DETROIT – One way for the Twins to get back on track offensively is to return to what they do well: having quality at-bats, driving up opponents’ pitch counts and getting into bullpens.
They walked 10 times on Thursday — a nine-inning season high — to push their total walks for the season to 570, or 3.73 walks per game. They are on pace for more than 604 walks, which would make them the third Twins team in history to draw more than 600 walks in a season. That mark was previously reached in 1962 (649) and 1978 (604).
Robbie Grossman’s walk rate of 15.3 percent leads the team, and it’s up from 14.1 last season. Brian Dozier has drawn 72 walks, the second most of his career. And his walk percentage of 10.8 is better than last season’s (8.8).
The catching tandem of Jason Castro (11.0) and Chris Gimenez (14.7) don’t hit for average but are in the top five on the club in walk percentage.
And the Twins are starting to see some improvement from some of their developing players. Eddie Rosario walked just 3.4 percent of the time last year but is up to 5.8 percent this year. Sounds small, but he’s walked 32 times this season compared with 12 last year.
The injured Miguel Sano has walked 54 times — the same as last season — but in five fewer games.
Hitting coach James Rowson said the rising walk totals have little to do with more patience. It’s a byproduct of the young hitters evolving at the plate.
“The total comes from a real aggressive approach,” he said. “It sounds like, if you are being more aggressive, how are you walking more?
“Once you start learning what you can hit and you’re aggressive, you start laying off pitches because they’re not what you want. That’s the way we talk about it. We never talk about walk totals. It’s about being aggressive to pitches that you can drive. I think these guys are starting to find their comfort zone.”
Young fan broke nose
Dozier spent part of Thursday’s pregame messaging a couple Yankees players for updates on the little girl who was struck in the face by a foul ball off the bat of Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier during the Twins-Yankees game on Wednesday. The girl was sitting with her grandparents when the liner, clock at 105 miles an hour, came into the stands and struck her.
“The last thing we heard is that she spent the night in the hospital and is doing good,” Dozier said. “There’s a lot of swelling and a broken nose.”
After the incident, Dozier was one of several players calling for more protective netting at games. The Reds Thursday announced they will extend netting to protect the areas behind each of the dugouts at Great American Ball Park.