KANSAS CITY, MO. – By the transitive property of baseball, Rod Carew has a decent hit at his eighth batting title.
Oh, it’s Luis Arraez hitting, and a lot lately. But Carew is the angel on his shoulder, helping to ensure Arraez pulls through when his team needs it – like, say, scoring two points at home on Saturday and scoring three more to help Joe Ryan win his fifth. victory in the 9- 2 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
“Luis reminds me as much of myself as any hitter the Twins have ever had, so I’m still interested in him,” Carew said of the Twins’ utility player, whose current . would rank seventh in the American League if he had a few more dozen at bat. “I can see myself – almost feel it – when he’s a little out of sync.”
Carew felt it on Friday, he said from his Southern California home. “I was watching and noticed that Luis was more upright in his stance. I’ve worked enough with Luis as a young hitter to know that when he does that he starts to carry the bat higher, and that that’s when he starts popping the ball in the air,” the Hall of Fame forward said. “When he’s in his little crouch, he flattens the bat [and] shots with that flatter swing that produces line drives and base strokes.”
Carew reached out to Dick Bremer with his observations, and the longtime Twins broadcaster promised to pass them along.
“I look at my phone and I say, Dick is texting me? And I read the text and it was like, ‘Hey, you gotta get down a little more and use your hands,’ and I’m doing that today” , Arraez explained after the Twins’ fifth victory in their last six games. “I used my hands and my legs too. That’s why I had two hits today.”
They were straight out of Carew’s batting title seasons, actually — the line drives in the opposite direction, almost served into left field.
“Rod Carew is the best. He knows so much about hitting,” Arraez said. “He talks to me a lot about baseball, he tells me to enjoy the game. He tells me ‘don’t be afraid to hit the ball to left field’ and that’s what I did today.”
He was far from the only hitter, of course, for an offense that has scored 29 points in its last three games. Gary Sanchez doubled home a point, Carlos Correa doubled home a pair; five different twins drove home errands.
“There was almost so much going on, up and down practically everyone’s lineup, that you hardly remember what anyone did,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “There were a lot of good at bats, there were a lot of dismissed pitches.”
Speaking of pitches, Ryan provided plenty of great ones, allowing runners to base in four of his six innings but only giving up a hit once. He walked two batters — the Twins had never won a game in which he gave up more than one walk — but one of them made him feel pretty good.
It came in the sixth inning, with the Twins leading 4-1, two Royals on base, and Carlos Santana, who homered 31 against Minnesota, accounting for the tying run. Ryan and Santana battled it out at 3-2, but Santana fired a low fastball to charge the bases. Caleb Thielbar relieved and ended the threat by asking Kyle Isbel to throw a routine ball.
“Walking people can be good and bad. In some situations, it makes sense,” Ryan said. “I mean, they’re good hitters for a reason, so don’t drop a cookie in there to somebody when you don’t have to. So yeah, I was happy about that, okay with that, knowing that I have I have the bullpen behind me.”
Ryan also got scared when he looked directly at the stadium lights and accidentally temporarily blinded himself. He motioned to receiver Ryan Jeffers not to return the ball yet, and Baldelli and athletic trainer Michael Salazar rushed to see why.
“I was like, ‘Man, you don’t need to come here, I’m fine. Okay? I’m trying to punch this guy, let’s go,'” Ryan said. “Never mind. It’s good that they care like that.”
Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse contributed to this report.
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