Some additional notes from the Twins’ relief-filled first victory on Friday:
Eduardo Nunez “leads the league in trainer visits,” Trevor Plouffe said, but that’s OK. He also leads the Twins in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, too.
On a team where only two other players, Joe Mauer and Eduardo Escobar, are batting above .200, Nunez improved to 7-for-9 this season (.778) by going 3-for-3 on Friday, including an RBI double that sparked a Twins rally in the seventh inning.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” Nunez said of his big night. “If you have three hits and we lost, it’s nothing.”
It’s a wonder he can remember it, though, given how close he came to disaster in the fourth inning. When Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar lifted a pop fly into short right, Nunez collided with an onrushing 275-pound Miguel Sano.
“He hit me in my head and my knee, and a spike in my calf,” Nunez said. “For 10 seconds, I was dizzy. I didn’t even know what was going on.”
Joe Mauer picked up the loose baseball and made a perfect throw to Plouffe at third base to retire Escobar. Then trainer Dave Pruemer and manager Paul Molitor rushed to the outfield to see if their utility infielder had a pulse.
“He got a lot of TV time with injuries tonight. He’s keeping me in shape a little bit,” Molitor joked. “I was fearing the worst, because it sure didn’t look good live. … It’s an easy play to tear something in your knee or ankle, or dislocate something. We got lucky there.”
And they got lucky that Nunez refused to come out of the game. “I told Mollie, ‘don’t try to take me out of the game,’ “ he said. “I want to stay here.”
He did, and two innings later got on base the hard way — by taking a 95-mph Garrett Richards fastball off his elbow. After moving up on Mauer’s ground out, that put him in position to score the Twins’ first run, though, when Sano doubled into the left-field corner and broke the Twins’ 19-at-bat hitless streak with runners in scoring position.
And an inning later, he doubled himself, knocking in Eddie Rosario, then scored the tying run on Mauer’s single.
“That was huge tonight. Especially after we were up and they hit a couple of homers” to retake the lead, Nunez said. “That’s who we are. We fight. We’re still battling. That’s us. We’re going to be back.”
The Twins got a break on Byung Ho Park’s eighth-inning double, which scored Trevor Plouffe from first base with the go-ahead run. Plouffe, not the fastest Twins runner, was nearing third base when Angels left fielder Craig Gentry mishandled Park’s line drive, and Plouffe simply rounded the base and headed home, beating Gentry’s throw by a couple of steps.
“We haven’t caught a lot of breaks, but that was one,” Molitor said. “That bobble was probably the difference between him scoring and not scoring.”
Well, maybe it was the bobble. Maybe there was another explanation.
“You saw those high socks today, right?” Plouffe asked afterward, pointing out his old-time, streak-breaking pants fashion.
He’s definitely planning to wear his socks high again Saturday, Plouffe said. Hey, maybe the Twins can all wear No. 42 again. It worked once.
The Twins finally got their first win on Friday even without a big offensive breakout. Sure, their five runs were a season-high (by two runs!), but they did it by scoring two runs in the sixth and seventh innings, and one run in the eighth. The Twins still haven’t scored more than two runs in any inning this year, the only team in the majors to be so scoring-challenged.
And the Angels aided Minnesota’s cause with three walks and a hit batter. (Eddie Rosario, incidentally, walked twice for just the second time in his career. In both cases — Friday and last Aug. 1 — one of the walks was intentional.) That helped, because the Twins still never collected more than two hits in an inning, something they have managed only twice in the 90 innings in which they’ve batted this year. The Twins have gone 39 innings without more than two hits in an inning, which last occurred in the sixth inning of Sunday’s game in Kansas City.