ST. LOUIS — Luis Arraez said he was ready to play again five days ago, but by rule he couldn't come off the injured list until Saturday. "I'm so bored inside," Arraez said. "I talked to Rocco [Baldelli] and said, 'I need to play.' "
He got his wish Saturday. It wasn't boring at all.
Arraez, playing for the first time since wrenching his right knee 10 days ago and batting cleanup for the first time in two years, drove home the Twins' first run with a sacrifice fly, and another one with a double.
Ryan Jeffers followed up Wednesday's two-homer game with another three-run shot, and the Twins ended their three-game losing streak with an 8-1 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Bailey Ober wasn't credited with the victory for his four-inning performance, but he enjoyed about as perfect an inning as a rookie pitcher can imagine in the second inning. Ober, batting for the first time since high school nearly a decade ago, looped a 2-2 sinker from St. Louis starter Jake Woodford into right field for his first career hit, then struck out the side in the bottom of the inning.
"I saw it was going to be in the zone so I took a swing and I made contact. I had no clue where the ball went," Ober said. "I started running a little bit and then heard some cheers so I guess it landed and I got a single."
The secret? Ober was wielding Nelson Cruz's bat.
"I'm like the only [pitcher] who didn't have his own bat because I'm a rookie," Ober explained. "So they brought like five or six bats to me, and of course I'm going to pick the one that [says] Nelson Cruz. Why wouldn't I?"
Ober allowed four singles, a walk and one run in four innings before being lifted — by a manager apparently unmoved by his success at the plate — for a pinch-hitter. Hard to argue with the strategy, given that the substitute, Willians Astudillo, lined a two-out single to drive in an insurance run, and the Twins' bullpen finished off the game with five scoreless innings.
The Twins battered Woodford for seven runs in three innings, with Jeffers' homer to straightaway center the big blow. Andrew Miller pitched 1⅔ innings for the Cardinals, and extended a five-year-old scoreless streak against Minnesota. Miller has pitched 20 consecutive shutout innings against the Twins, dating back almost precisely five years; the Twins' last run against the lefthander came on Aug. 1, 2016, when Joe Mauer spoiled Miller's Cleveland debut with a home run.
Rogers leans away from surgery
After receiving multiple medical opinions about the pulley tendon in his left middle finger, Taylor Rogers is "leaning in the direction" of following a treatment plan that does not include surgery, Baldelli said.
But no matter what advice he ultimately takes, the manager admitted, it's not likely that that Twins' All-Star reliever will pitch again this season.
"I don't want to rule that out, especially before we have all the information," Baldelli said. However, after hearing the initial diagnosis of ligament damage, "I didn't not anticipate him pitching again this year, and I think that was a fairly understood view" within the team's medical staff.
The injury, which occurred somewhat freakishly as he unleashed a pitch on Monday, will heal itself with enough rest, one specialist has told the Twins, and "he's comfortable with that at the moment," Baldelli said. "There's not much for him to do right now."
Rogers has pitched 40⅓ innings this season and owns a 3.35 ERA, with nine saves and four blown saves.
•Josh Donaldson missed his second consecutive game on Saturday after experiencing tightness in his right hamstring on Friday. But the third baseman took ground balls and several swings during batting practice, so the injury is not considered serious.
•Saturday and Sunday's games between Fort Myers, the Twins' high-A affiliate, and Clearwater were cancelled in order to conduct contact tracing after an apparent COVID outbreak among the Phillies affiliate's roster and staff.