When Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers came to the plate with the bases loaded Wednesday, Twins coach Tony Diaz signaled third baseman Miguel Sano to back up. Sano’s response: No.
“I wanted a triple play,” Sano said. “I said no, I’ll stay on the line [near the bag] and try to make a play. Let’s go make a triple play.”
What are the odds of that? Whatever you think they are — and the Twins have only turned 14 in their 59-year history — Sano believes they’re a lot better when he’s on the field. “In 2017, I got one in Anaheim. This year, we got one when I was on first base,” Sano said. “It’s just opportunity.”
Flowers provided that. He fouled off a fastball, then chopped a low cutter sharply down the third-base line. And right to Sano.
Who had already told second baseman Jonathan Schoop, during a mound conference between starter Martin Perez and pitching coach Wes Johnson, of his plans.
“Sano told me, ‘If I get it, I’m going to do it,’ ” Schoop said. “ ‘The catcher is running, so do it.’ ”
Actually, Johnson had instructed Sano to try to get a double play, rather than throwing home to cut off a run. But Sano wasn’t going to settle for two outs. “I say, ‘Why not?’ ” Sano said. “ ‘We can make it.’ ”
He did. Sano grabbed the grounder, took one step and touched third base, then zipped a perfect throw to Schoop at second. “Schoopie, he [got] a bazooka down there,” Sano said, and Flowers was out by two steps at first base, a third inning-ending triple play.
“I didn’t think we would do it twice in a season. Good play by Sano, and when he gets it to me, it’s a done deal,” Schoop said. “If we can get the pitcher out of a jam like that, it’s good. But I hope we don’t get bases loaded so we need to turn a triple play.”
Along with the Luis Arraez-to-Schoop-to-Sano triple play turned against the Yankees on July 7, also with Perez on the mound, the Twins became the first team since the 2017 Orioles to turn two in one season. They’ve done it twice before, too: Once in 1988, and most notably on July 17, 1990, at Fenway Park, when they became the only team to turn two triple plays in the same game.
Given the interleague rotation, the Braves and Twins won’t see each other for another three years — well, barring a late October matchup — and there was talk in the Atlanta clubhouse about how good both teams might be by then.
Both teams have strong lineups with young players, and while Ronald Acuna Jr.’s 6-for-15 series with two homers, and Ozzie Albies’ 9-for-16 set with one homer were the headliners of the Braves’ two victories, the visitors sounded impressed with what they found at Target Field, too.
“That lineup is extremely powerful. You can see these guys put up a lot of numbers real quick,” Braves starter Max Fried said. “I just needed to focus on executing my pitches and put them in a good spot.”
Even when the Braves opened a 7-0 lead, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said he didn’t feel a victory was guaranteed. The Twins scored seven runs in the final four innings of both of their losses.
“That’s a tough ballclub. We had an eight-run lead and you don’t feel good,” Snitker said. “They’re relentless.”
• Brusdar Graterol, sidelined since late May because of a shoulder impingement, was activated by Class AA Pensacola. Graterol, 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA in nine starts for the Blue Wahoos, is rated the top pitching prospect in the Twins’ system.