Some final notes from the end to a 10-game road trip:
Not sure if it qualifies as a rivalry yet; maybe Twins-Royals will develop into one if both teams remain in the AL Central race. But there sure was a lot of respect expressed in the clubhouse Sunday about the four-game series these teams played. The Twins didn’t allow more than three runs in any game (and outscored the Royals 11-9), yet the teams split the series, with both of the Royals’ wins being walk-offs.
“We were in all four games. We battled,” said Trevor Plouffe. “Man, it was a good series.”
“It was a great four games,” agreed Torii Hunter. “A lot of energy. We said Thursday, we should leave this series tired, and I think we felt it today.”
Brian Dozier hopes a message was sent, especially since the Royals somewhat easily swept three games last month in Target Field. “I know somewhere in the back of their minds, [they know] we played them pretty well and maybe they know we probably should have taken all four from them,” Dozier said. “We’re not satisfied with a split, but you move on.”
Maybe this series will be a good lesson for down the road. “This is the way the playoffs are going to be,” Hunter said, then quickly adding, “no matter who you are.”
The Twins didn’t steal a base during the four-game series, but that’s no big surprise. It’s the sixth series without a steal for the Twins this year, and three of them have come against the Royals and Salvador Perez.
The All-Star catcher didn’t play on Sunday, but the Twins still were charged with a caught stealing when Eddie Rosario was picked off first base, with the tag being made at second.
The Twins went 7-for-13 on the bases during this 10-game road trip, a terrible percentage considering 80 percent is considered good. OK, they faced Perez and Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy on the trip, but it’s been a yearlong trend. They’re now 37-of-64 on the season, a 57.8 percent success rate.
All-Star invitations go out Monday, and it got Paul Molitor, a seven-time All-Star to reminiscing before Sunday’s game. “You try to take advantage of those experiences,” Molitor said. “All-Star clubhouses are special. You look around, maybe get to know some people that you normally only compete against. Those things have a tendency to linger on even after your playing days.”
The selection process has changed, and the rosters expanded, which Molitor endorses. There have been some strange absences, he said, and the process sometimes doesn’t seem fair. “Robin Yount was an MVP twice. He’s in the Hall of Fame. And he went to three All-Star Games?” Molitor said of his longtime Brewers teammate. “How’s that happen?”
Molitor turned down Ned Yost’s invitation to be one of his coaches this year in Cincinnati, and thanked the Kansas City manager — who earned the job as reigning AL champion — again this weekend for the offer. But that doesn’t mean he’s done with All-Star Games. Might he someday manage one?
“I’d love the chance,” he said with a smile.