The first high-and-tight fastball from Trevor Bauer on Saturday didn’t hit Nelson Cruz, even though umpire Phil Cuzzi thought it did. But the second one glanced off Cruz’s hand — and triggered his temper.
“I don’t mind getting hit. Sometimes I like to get hit,” Cruz, who has been plunked 63 times in his 15-year career, said after the Twins lost 2-1 to Cleveland at Target Field. “But in some situations, you figure out it’s enough when they come up and in. Especially on your hands.”
Cruz, who is 7-for-14 in his career against Bauer, was knocked to the ground in the fourth inning and awarded first base by Cuzzi, though a replay challenge by Indians manager Terry Francona determined the ball actually hit his bat and Cruz eventually grounded out.
Cruz fell to the dirt again in the seventh inning, when the fastball really did strike his wrist. Cruz got up and yelled at the Cleveland righthander, though Cuzzi stepped in quickly to prevent any further confrontation.
“That’s my job, to tell him,” Cruz said of his reaction. Did Bauer yell anything back?
“I don’t know,” Cruz said.
Do the hustle
With the Twins down a run, Byron Buxton led off the ninth inning by popping up a fastball from Indians closer Brad Hand into shallow right-center field, and he was clearly disappointed. But he didn’t let it show in what he did next.
Rather than jog to first base in disgust, Buxton ran at top speed. When the wind blew the ball away from diving infielder Max Moroff, Buxton was only a few feet from second base and arrived standing up.
That is the sort of play that managers love.
“I’m not surprised one bit. That’s what Buck does,” Rocco Baldelli said. “He gave himself a chance to get there, to get to second, and it gave us an opportunity to tie and win the game.”
Max Kepler struck out for the first out. Buxton then moved up another base on Jorge Polanco’s fly ball, and the Twins loaded the bases when Hand intentionally walked Cruz and then missed with a 3-2 pitch to Eddie Rosario, walking him as well. But C.J. Cron flew out to right to end the game.
One mistake lands in the seats
Twins righthander Jake Odorizzi, who never faced more than four batters in an inning Saturday, made only one mistake in his six-inning 2019 debut. It was a calculated risk, and it cost him.
Odorizzi fell behind Hanley Ramirez 3-0 with two outs in the fourth inning of a scoreless game, and he had a decision to make. “I’m not going to walk him on four straight pitches. I’m going to attack him,” Odorizzi said. “I should’ve known better.”
Odorizzi threw a fastball over the heart of the plate, and Ramirez launched it into the second deck in left field, a home run measured at 416 feet. It was Ramirez’s first home run since last May 12, when he was with Boston; the three-time All-Star was released May 30 and never landed with another team in 2018.
“I’ve faced Hanley quite a bit, and the way it was going, a 0-0 game, I should have assumed he had the green light,” Odorizzi said. “… But at the same time, I had a good fastball, so I figured I might as well throw it. If he swings, the best he can do it hit a home run. The worst, maybe he pops it up and we get an easy out. He put an incredible swing on it and he hammered it. I really can’t fault him for doing what he did. It was right down the middle.”
Still, Odorizzi, who threw 50 pitches before the Indians managed to hit a ball to the outfield, was delighted with the command he showed, with getting ahead in the count with regularity and getting a dozen swing-and-misses. “I’m never going to say I figured things out, but I just want to keep on the path I’m going right now,” he said.
• At 34 degrees at first pitch, the game was tied for the sixth-coldest in Twins history, and the third-coldest ever at Target Field. The record of 27 degrees was set last April 7 in an 11-4 loss to Seattle.
• The Twins wore their new blue-with-gold-accents alternate jerseys for the first time.