Three short extras from the Twins’ third-shortest game (2:23) of the season — just three days after they set a franchise record for the longest nine-inning game:
The Twins shifted their infield toward right field when Freddie Freeman batted Tuesday, with third baseman Miguel Sano swung around to where the shortstop normally stands. It almost caused a disaster when Freeman popped the ball high into short left-center field in the sixth inning.
Sano ran about 50 feet into the outfield to track the popup, and made the catch just as left fielder Eddie Rosario arrived. Rosario slid to avoid a collision, but Sano tripped over him and both fell to the ground. It took a few moments before both players climbed to their feet.
Manager Paul Molitor admitted he was worried, “a little bit. … The ball kind of goes out into no mans’ land,” he said. “It’s like when Miguel was in the outfield — when there’s a collision factor, usually the other guy’s going to come out on the short end. Thankfully, everybody got up.”
Molitor didn’t know whether Rosario called for the ball, but said he had to run such a long way, it might not have made a difference.
“It’s one of those plays where the infielder is going to go until he hears something, and sometimes it’s too late,” he said. “You’ve already committed to making the catch.”
Molitor also had high praise for Max Kepler’s diving catch of A.J. Pierzynski’s line drive in the fifth inning, not just the athleticism of it, but the recognition, too.
“Kepler got a nice jump on that ball,” Molitor said. “[Pierzynski] had a big swing, but it didn’t have a lot of carry,” and Kepler’s quick reaction allowed him to make the catch just above the grass.
It was a strong defensive game for the Twins all around, actually. Brian Dozier made a couple of nice throws while running away from first base to catch balls hit up the middle. Ervin Santana’s efficient pitching may have had something to do with the defense, Molitor said.
“It’s been that way for a long time. Defenders like it,” Molitor said. “Your job is to be ready on every pitch, but it helps you get in the flow.”
Santana needed only 97 pitches to record his second complete game in his past four starts, the fewest pitches thrown by a Twins pitcher in a nine-inning outing since Carl Pavano shut out the Royals on 95 pitches on Sept. 28, 2011.
Santana, 1-7 with a 5.10 ERA on June 14, has a 2.02 ERA over his last seven starts, with eight walks and 31 strikeouts.
“I’m getting better,” he deadpanned.