CLEVELAND — The raw statistics say the Twins are one of the better base-running teams in the American League. But it sure doesn’t feel that way to Paul Molitor sometimes.
The Twins have made 23 outs on the bases this season, which is precisely the AL average and far fewer than Boston’s 31 or Houston’s 29. (Yes, it’s a counting stat, not a rate stat; those better-hitting teams have more baserunners.) And the Twins take extra bases, whether it’s going from first to third on a single, or scoring from first on a double, 48 percent of the time, better than every AL team but Texas.
But they make some memorably overaggressive mistakes, too.
“We’re not clean there yet,” Molitor said. “We’re making mistakes.”
Sunday’s was particularly painful, perhaps even game-changing, the Twins’ manager said. With two outs in the second inning, Mitch Garver singled to right field, and Ehire Adrianza did the same. But Adrianza, perhaps anticipating a throw to third base to try to nail Garver, rounded first base by about 15 feet. The Indians cut off the throw and caught Adrianza in a rundown; when Garver broke for home, they threw him out instead.
“I thought that was actually a little bit of a momentum-changer,” Molitor said. “We hit the ball hard the first two innings, and we’ve got Joe [Mauer] coming up with [runners on] first and third.”
Mauer never got the chance to drive in that run, and the part that bugged Molitor was that he didn’t see a reason for the bungled play.
“There was just really nowhere to go. Baserunning is about space and distance to the ball. When that ball is coming in from right field, you’re only about 40 feet from where it’s going to get cut off,” Molitor pointed out. “You’ve just got to be a lot more [cautious] on your turn there. There’s really nowhere to go.”
Joe Mauer led off the game with a double that missed clearing the 19-foot-high left-field wall by about four feet. By doing so, Mauer added to his ballpark record.
It was Mauer’s 34th career double at Progressive Field, which is the most by any visiting player here. Mauer has a .320 career average at the park, and his 116 hits here are exactly as many as he has had at Comerica Park in Detroit and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.