CLEVELAND – Eduardo Escobar can sum up his secret to hitting doubles in seven words.
“Look for the ball and swing hard,” the Twins third baseman said Sunday. “That’s it.”
Escobar followed his own advice three times Sunday, hitting one double apiece to left, center and right fields. By becoming the first Twins player with a three-double game since Robbie Grossman in 2016, Escobar reached 30 doubles for the season, easily the most in baseball. White Sox slugger Jose Abreu is second with 26.
Not that he was celebrating after the Twins’ 4-1 loss.
“I was happy today to have three doubles, but a win is more important,” he said. “It’s better when you have three doubles in a win.”
Still, by reaching 30 doubles in the Twins’ first 68 games, he’s in some elite company. Not since Cincinnati’s Joey Votto reached 30 in 67 games in 2012 has a player gotten there faster, and only Chuck Knoblauch, with 31 in 1994, has ever had more in 68 Twins games. And Escobar’s 44 extra-base hits, which also lead the majors, surpasses the 42 that Hall of Famer Heinie Manush had after 68 games for the 1934 Washington Senators, the pre-Minnesota franchise record.
“It’s impressive,” manager Paul Molitor said. “People say, how do you get doubles? Well, you drive the baseball. Off the wall, right-center field gap, down the right field line, off the bag …”
All isn’t lost
The Twins might feel they could have won more than three of the six games on this trip, but they preferred to stay positive Sunday.
“The thing we can take from that is we won a series here to end it,” righthander Jake Odorizzi said. “To win two out of three here is pretty good. We lost the series in Detroit, and we could have responded in a different way in this series.”
Molitor agreed. “Well, it’s better than a losing record,” he said. “The players talked about it today, there’s a little bit more urgency the longer you go. A .500 road record is something that’s fairly tolerable, but we know we missed some chances, too.”
Position of strength
The Indians’ most effective relief pitcher this weekend might have been, well, an outfielder. Brandon Guyer faced three Twins in the ninth inning Saturday, the first time he had ever taken the mound as a professional, and recorded a 1-2-3 inning, retiring Taylor Motter on a ground ball and Ryan LaMarre and Max Kepler on fly outs.
If that sounds strange, well, it’s not. The Twins have made nine consecutive outs against position players on the mound. Carlos Diaz, Daniel Descalso, Andrew Romine and now Guyer have added to the streak over the past year.
“You know, hitting’s a funny thing,” Molitor said. “One of my little mental things during batting practice is, I’ll watch a guy take 10 swings [against] 60-mph [pitches], and you’ll see a lot of guys go two for 10. And we’re talking batting practice.”
The change in velocity is startling. “It’s funny, you’d rather see somebody throwing 95 than somebody throwing 75,” catcher Bobby Wilson said. “Which doesn’t make any sense, but we’re a lot more accustomed to seeing [velocity], so you’re not quite sure what to do.”
That, plus the pressure of high expectations. “You’ve got nothing to gain. I mean, if you get a hit, you’re supposed to, and if you make an out, you’re embarrassed by it,” Molitor said. “But I like guys who try to get hits. And facing a guy like [Guyer], I’d be pretty greedy, saying I’m not going to let this freebie slip away.”
• Grossman left Sunday’s game after feeling dizzy on the bases in the 90-degree heat. “It was hot out there. He came in [during a pitching change] and said he was feeling dizzy,” Molitor said. “He wanted to go back out, we said no, we’re going to pinch run for you.”
• Cleveland put righthander Carlos Carrasco on the 10-day disabled list, a day after taking a Joe Mauer line drive off his right elbow.