Dad: Swing the bat with the ferocity of a lion and the ball will travel a long way.
Son: Wave the bat like a magic wand and the ball will find open space.
Dad: Let’s go light up this pitcher!
Seriously, are there two more entertaining hitters to watch in the Twins’ power-packed lineup than the oldest and youngest members? You don’t dare channel surf when those two are due up.
The dynamic duo did their usual dance Sunday as the Twins clobbered the White Sox 14-2 to win the opening series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Cruz had two doubles and two home runs with seven RBI. Arraez sprayed two singles for his second multi-hit game of the season.
Beauty and Brawn are defying age in their own way. Cruz isn’t too old to dominate pitchers; Arraez isn’t too young to do likewise. Hitting a baseball requires players to accept regular failure, but those two somehow make it look easy-peasy.
What a pair.
Cruz hit 41 home runs and batted .311 last season with career highs in slugging and OPS. He turned 40 in July 1. There are zero signs of decline. If anything, he looks stronger the longer he plays.
He has started his 16th season with seven hits, three home runs and 10 RBI in three games.
“The consistent hard contact is pretty extraordinary,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “When he’s seeing the ball good and putting those kinds of swings on the ball, I haven’t seen too many guys do anything like this.”
His first home run Sunday came on an 0-2 breaking pitch down in the zone. He golfed it 435 feet. His second blast had an exit velocity of Mach 1.
“When he hit that second one, I looked right at Rocco and said, ‘Damn, this guy is really good,’ ” outfielder Jake Cave said. “Rocco was like, ‘Yeah, it’s actually pretty incredible.’ ”
The White Sox kept pitching to him, and Cruz kept belting the ball, something he’s done regularly since joining the Twins. White Sox pitchers probably have nightmares of Cruz at this point.
“It’s nothing against anyone, I just try to do my job,” Cruz said. “For me, it’s just business.”
If Cruz is a picture of calm in the batter’s box, Arraez represents the antithesis of that. He’s like a kid on stage at a school play, a demonstrative bundle of energy. He rotates his hips and rolls his shoulders and makes faces when he lets a borderline pitch go without swinging.
But when was the last time Arraez took a bad at-bat? He always looks in complete control, regardless of count or situation. He’s a young hitter with mature discipline and a gift for getting barrel to ball.
Arraez hit .334 as a rookie last season, which was the fifth-highest average by a 22-year-old in the past 100 years (with a minimum of 300 plate appearances), according to Twins research. The others ahead of him: Ted Williams, Freddie Lindstrom, Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio.
Arraez’s 29 strikeouts were the fewest in MLB among players with at least 350 plate appearances.
Badelli described Arraez’s hitting talent as a “gift.”
“When he steps in the batter’s box, things do come to him naturally,” Baldelli said. “His actions might look jittery because he has all the here-and-there’s that you see every single at-bat, but he knows exactly what he’s doing. There is zero confusion. He’s very, very comfortable in the batter’s box. That’s not something a lot of guys are born with. He knows how to hit. Those kinds of things don’t normally go away. Those things are generally here to stay.”
He doesn’t need to look far for proof. The elder statesman in the lineup keeps Cruz-ing right along with no signs of slowing down.