OAKLAND, Calif. — This trip started so promising for the Twins. But Tuesday night was incredibly deflating. Not only did they lose for the second straight day, but they lost their best power hitter for at least two weeks. Some leftovers from a bad night for the Twins:
Robbie Grossman, who hasn’t yet been a Twin for two weeks, now has more extra-base hits than Kurt Suzuki or Eduardo Escobar this year, and on Tuesday, he came close to some immortality, too.
Grossman doubled three times, becoming the first Twin since Eddie Rosario last July 24 to do that, and the first since Joe Mauer on Aug. 4, 2009 to do it on the road. And he was on deck when the game ended, depriving him of the opportunity to join Kirby Puckett as the only Twins to ever collect four doubles in the same game. Puckett did it on May 13, 1989.
All his manager can do is shake his head in amazement — this guy was released twice this year? — and keep putting him in the lineup.
“He’s got a good idea. He takes the information he’s given, does his homework to give himself a good chance in terms of approach,” Molitor said. “He kind of fought off a couple balls tonight. It was a way to get the ball in play and they fell in.”
It’s not just fastballs, either, Molitor noted. In the eighth inning, Grossman, a switch-hitter, doubled off Fernando Rodriguez, his third extra-base hit, of his nine this year, that came from the right side.
“He did a nice job left-handed with that double on the breaking pitch, too,” Molitor said. “He’s just finding ways to get on base.”
So-so night for Byron Buxton, who had to be happy to be back in the majors. The rookie outfielder struck out twice — in his first at-bat, he took three strikes in five pitches — and flew out. But he also laced a double into the left-field corner in the sixth inning, a reminder that just putting the ball in play will often produce great results for the speedster.
“I don’t want to judge too much on one game,” Molitor said. “He battled some, had a double on a breaking pitch. A couple at-bats he extended, fouled some pitches off before the couple of strikeouts he did have.”
It will be interesting to see how Molitor splits the workload among his outfielders when Max Kepler arrives. (The Twins hope he’ll be at the ballpark in time for Wednesday’s 12:35 start.) Kepler can play center as well, and while Oswaldo Arcia figures to get more playing time while Sano is out, especially since he’s got more power than the others, he’s also stuck in a 4-for-35 (.114) slump at the moment.
More than two dozen players, coaches and staff members attended Game 7 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals on Monday. Paul Molitor wasn’t one of them.
“I watched on television,” Molitor said of the Warriors’ 96-88 win over the Thunder. “The guys who want to get into the lineup — don’t be afraid to invite your manager.”
He was joking, but Molitor was happy his team enjoyed the night out together, in an Oracle Arena suite the players chipped in to pay for. And so did the players. “It’s great to go hang out with the guys, and get away from the grind of the season. It was a great night out,” said relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler. “It was amazing.”
The Twins’ stars were even a little star-struck. “To see [Steph] Curry and [Klay] Thompson, [Kevin] Durant and [Russell] Westbrook, these guys are the best in the world,” said Joe Mauer. “We see those guys on TV, but to see it in person and see how the crowd reacts to them, [how] they feed off of it, that was great.”
Especially the Warriors’ spectacular shooting, right? “It reminded me of my shot, back when I played,” joked Mauer, a high-school point guard.