C.J. Cron relishes coming to bat with the bases loaded, and why not? During the first four seasons of his career, Cron punished pitchers in those situations, driving in 48 runs in only 61 plate appearances. He smacked a couple of grand slams, batted .364 and posted an OPS over .800.
“I love hitting in those situations,” Cron said. “You know you’re going to get something to hit.”
Well, until this season. Cron is inexplicably only 1-for-10 with the bases loaded, and has hit into doubled plays in his past two chances.
“I don’t know why, but it’s nothing to worry about,” Cron said. “It’s such a limited number of [chances], I don’t think you can take anything from it.”
True enough. Baseball is an inherently random game. Which is why nobody seems particularly worried that nearly all of Cron’s teammates are having the same strange problem.
The Twins might rank third in runs scored in the American League (647), they might be only four points behind the league’s best batting average (.270, behind the Red Sox’s .274), they easily own the best OPS in the game (.836). But put runners on all three bases, and Minnesota goes as cold as January. The Twins entered Tuesday’s game with a .200 average in bases-loaded situations, and it’s only that high because Luis Arraez ended their lengthy stretch of futility Monday.
The rookie drove in Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario with a fourth-inning single, the team’s first bases-loaded hit since a Max Kepler single on July 14, snapping an 0-for-16 skid. And Kepler’s hit was the Twins’ only one in July; since June 27, the Twins went 1-for-25 with a hit batter and two catcher’s interference errors. Jonathan Schoop is 0-for-8 this year, Marwin Gonzalez 1-for-7 and Jorge Polanco 1-for-6. The Twins, on pace for the season home run record, have hit one grand slam, by Byron Buxton. The Astros have 10.
“I don’t know, we have just too many good hitters for that to mean anything. And we’re scoring plenty of runs, so it’s not hurting us,” Cron said. “In clutch situations, especially late in games, we’ve been pretty good. We’ve come back a lot this year, and we’ve piled on a lot of runs, so I don’t think it’s a cause to worry.”
Probably not. In fact, Cron figured, maybe it’s a good sign.
“Those kind of stats, the more opportunities you get, it’ll eventually even out,” Cron reasoned. “So by the law of averages, we should be really looking forward to bases-loaded situations.”
TBA vs. TBA series
Rocco Baldelli isn’t ready to announce the Twins’ starting rotation for the upcoming four-game series with second-place Cleveland. Keep them guessing, you see.
“As late as we possibly can,” the manager said when asked when he would confirm the lineup. “We obviously have things lined up internally, and have thoughts on it, but as far as announcing what we’re going to do, [we’ll] probably just wait until the last moment.”
The Indians haven’t made anything official, either, and their plans were likely complicated by Tuesday’s rainout, forcing a doubleheader Wednesday with Texas.
Since Michael Pineda cannot return from the injured list until August, Minnesota’s foursome figures to be the same as their past four games: Kyle Gibson, Devin Smeltzer, Jake Odorizzi and Jose Berrios.
• Outfielder LaMonte Wade, out since July 6 because of a dislocated thumb, caught fly balls in the outfield before batting practice, his first action since the injury. Wade will depart for the Twins’ camp in Fort Myers within the next day or two.