Here are a few thoughts following the Twins' 2-0 loss to the Sawx:
Not a good time for a bunt: I do believe there are times when it's a good move to drop down a bunt. I don't like little ball early in games when a team is trying to get an early lead. And I don't like it when .332 hitters are spitting on their own average by squaring around with two men on and one run down in the eighth inning.
But Jorge Polanco tried to bunt for a hit while moving the runners over on Monday. The bunt worked, and he actually made it a close play at first. But with a decent runner in Jonathan Schoop (I didn't describe him as fast, just decent. Not slow, decent), a Polanco hit might tie the game. A Polanco extra base hit (he entered the game tied for the AL lead in extra base hits) might score two runs.
It didn't happen, and it cost the Twins an out. Now, if Nelson Cruz touches the ball the right way, he should have hit at least a fly ball to allow Schoop to tag and score. That didn't happen either. And Eddie Rosario, who just missed a couple pitches on Monday, chopped out to end the inning. So it wasn't just Polanco, who believes in his teammates, but the Twins could still be batting (exaggeration) if Polanco acts like a .332 hitter there.
Polanco also tried to bunt a 2-0 pitch against the Royals on Friday.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the best hitters in baseball," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "So, I think you can always lean on taking your chances with him swinging the bat. But we all also trust our guys, where I’m not going to stand here and tell you I disapprove of the decision he made out on the field. In the heat of the game, he made a decision and I support him.
“We talk about these things all the time with our guys and I’m sure we’ll talk about this one.”
Parker in a funk
Blake Parker said he felt as good as he has in weeks when he entered the ninth inning on Monday. But he ended up giving a run in an all-too-familiar way.
The scene: J.D. Martinez on second. Xander Bogaerts at the plate. Parker ahead 0-2 with two outs, so he's a pitch away from ending the inning. He decided to throw a fastball, despite suggestions from catcher Jason Castro that he go to his trusty split-fingered pitch. Parker wanted to throw a pitch up and away to see if Bogaerts chased it. If he doesn't, then he'll throw the splitter.
Parker's fastball wasn't up and away enough, and Bogaerts stuck his bat out and lined a double to drive in an insurance run.
Parker has a 12.86 ERA over his last eight outings, as Baldelli has quietly given more ninth inning opportunities to lefthander Taylor Rogers.
Here are a couple other numbers to ferment in your brain. When the count is 0-2, opponents are 5-for-9 off of Parker with two doubles and a home run. After 0-2, they are 7-for-21 with two doubles and two homers.
Parker has to change up how he's trying to put hitters away.
What about Buxton
My spider senses are tingling after Baldelli was asked after the game about Byron Buxton, who missed a third consecutive game with a sore right wrist. Buxton worked out before the game.
"So, it went pretty well," Baldelli said, "but we don’t have any real updates right besides the fact that it went well. I think we should have something for everyone tomorrow.”
I'm smelling a stint on the injured list to make sure Buxton is 100 percent. The Twins can backdate the move to Friday. the last time he played in a game. That's my prediction. We'll see what happens on Tuesday.