CHICAGO — Three extras from the Twins’ 58th win of the season:
Juan Centeno batted behind Byron Buxton for the first time on Saturday, and made an encouraging discovery: It’s really easy to drive the rookie in. Just get a hit, and if Buxton is on base, any base, he’s likely to score.
Centeno doubled twice, and Buxton streaked home both times, giving Centeno 25 RBIs on the season. It also marked the fourth consecutive start in which Centeno has contributed a run-scoring hit.
“He’s done a nice job in his role overall. He’s improved in his catching, and he knows how to battle” at the plate, Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s had limited big-league time, but this year has helped him understand what he is. “
Hector Santiago may walk more batters than most pitchers (and managers) would like, but there’s a distinct pattern about how it happens. Santiago, not blessed with an especially fast fastball, is simply unwilling to allow his opponent’s best hitters to beat him, if at all possible. Of his 79 walks this season, 12 have come against the cleanup hitter, another 12 have come against the No. 2 hitter, and 11 have come against the third hitter — no other batting-order position is in double digits.
On Saturday, Santiago walked Jose Abreu twice, because he fell behind and decided he would rather start over against the fourth hitter, Melky Cabrera, than give Abreu something to hit.
“They understand I’m not going to give in to those guys. I’m not going to throw something in the middle of the plate,” Santiago said. “I don’t want [Cleveland’s Mike] Napoli to beat me, I don’t want Abreu to beat me, especially if I’m behind in the count.”
That habit used to bug Molitor. He’s gotten used to it now.
“It’s kind of what he does,” Molitor said. “He’s learned how to dance around [those walks] for the most part.”
The Twins went errorless for a third straight game on Saturday, though they haven’t exactly been flawless in the field during that span. Still, it’s an accomplishment for a team that committed more errors this season than in any year since 1980 — a number that clearly galls Molitor.
“We [will] make sure it’s very clear in the spring that it’ll be a point of emphasis. We have to get better at catching the baseball,” Molitor said of the Twins, who entered Saturday with 126 errors, 30 more than the Angels and A’s, whose 96-errors totals are tied for second-most in the AL. “You’re going to make some, but it’s been crazy. … It’s been very costly, no doubt about that, and I think it does affect your pitchers to some degree.”