At some point in the seventh inning Wednesday, Luis Arraez tried to give advice to rookie Matt Wallner as he prepared to face White Sox reliever Joe Kelly.
"Get your hands on the ball," was Arraez's message.
To which Wallner responded: "Dude, I try to get my hands to a Joe Kelly 97 [mph], it's just a little bit harder for me than you."
To be fair, Arraez is 5-10, 175 pounds to Wallner's 6-5, 220 pounds. Or as Wallner put it: "There couldn't be much different [of a] baseball player than with me and Luis Arraez."
Yet the pair's efforts at the plate against the White Sox helped the Twins to a 8-4 victory in front of an announced 22,332 at Target Field, keeping alive the 76-79 Twins' minuscule chances at a wild-card playoff berth, if only briefly. Later Wednesday, Seattle defeated Texas and eliminated the Twins from contention.
Wallner's two hits in three at-bats plus a walk, along with three RBI, was yet another strong outing in just 12 MLB games so far for the right fielder. Arraez went 2-for-5 with an RBI and drew level with Aaron Judge in the American League batting race, both at .313.
On Wednesday, Judge equaled Roger Maris' 1961 AL record of 61 home runs in a season. He has a chance at the Triple Crown, with 130 RBI as well.
Arraez said he tries not to scoreboard-watch, especially during games. But when he was doing film study between at-bats, he couldn't quite help what his eyes saw.
"I just watch the iPad and my average is there, and I don't want to see it," Arraez said. "I saw Judge got .313, and we're tied right now, but I don't pay attention too much. I just want to go there and get my hits because we've got, I think, seven more games. I just try to get seven hits or maybe more."
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli admitted he's keeping tabs on the race. But he hasn't seen Arraez become too consumed with it, nothing more than maybe dropping the bat a little harder than necessary after a line out or whatnot.
"He has a lot of games where he's hitting three and four balls on the nose, and this game's hard. You're not going to get a hit every time you hit a ball squarely," Baldelli said. "But he's having really good at-bats right now. I think if he continues to focus on that and just swings the bat the way he is, he's going to have a pretty good shot at this thing."
Arraez and Wallner weren't the only Twins hitters to stack up some offense against the White Sox, who also were eliminated from wild-card contention Wednesday. The Twins had 12 hits, including three hits and a RBI from Jake Cave and two hits and an RBI from Jose Miranda. Gio Urshela contributed three hits and three runs scored.
So while the Twins' postseason dreams have vanished, a few cheer-worthy moments likely remain this season. Wallner said he doesn't feel like he's swinging the bat all that well right now, and he still has nine RBI through his first 12 MLB games. And Arraez could become the first Twins player to win a batting title since Joe Mauer in 2009.
"I just need a little bit of good luck to get more hits," Arraez said. "If it's coming, good. But if not, I just need to finish strong."