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Matt Wallner's parents are at Target Field for every game he plays in. His grandparents are usually there, too, along with aunts and uncles and assorted other Wallners. "It's a lot of fun to play in front of them," he said.

So imagine how stressful it must be for the Forest Lake native, a respectable .254 hitter in road games, to own a .129 career average in his home ballpark.

That all changed on Saturday, though, when Wallner doubled his career total of four Target Field hits in one glorious afternoon. The rookie outfielder singled home two runs with two outs in the first inning, beat out what he called "an 8-mile-per-hour hit" in the third, and recorded his first home run of 2023 in the fifth. He topped it off with one more single in the seventh inning.

And going 4-for-4 was arguably not even the most impressive part of his day.

Brandon Belt led off the sixth inning with a ball that got over Wallner's head in right field and bounced off the wall. But Wallner recovered quickly and fired a perfect throw to second base, where shortstop Kyle Farmer made a fast tag to retire Belt.

"He had a big impact on a ballgame. And then he makes the tough play up against the wall," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He gets the ball in his hand from a dead stop, really, and makes that throw. It was just an impactful game from him."

Wallner said he was especially proud of the first-inning, two-out, two-run single, a crucial play for a team that has had trouble getting big hits lately. He got behind 0-2 in the count and admitted that Toronto starter Chris Bassitt even fooled him with his next pitch, a curveball.

"He beat me with a couple harder pitches, the cutter and the two-seam [fastball]. I was honestly looking for another one of those, but I was able to stay grounded there and stay on the curve," Wallner said. "It was a good piece of hitting. It made me happy."

So did the slow roller. When he beat the play — actually, he was originally called out, but the call was overturned by replay — "I knew it was going to be a good day. … When you see a zero in front of your batting average, you need to run out every ball possible, to get every hit possible," he joked.

He thought Daulton Varsho had robbed him of his home run, but the Toronto center fielder couldn't hold on to it.

"After I made sure he didn't catch it, I was so happy. I kind of stayed inside it, and was able to hit it to center field, backspin it a little bit," he said. "That's kind of my goal for hitting homers, that's when I hit them the best. So it was a good swing there."

And a good day for all the Wallners.

No connection

Baldelli conferred with umpiring crew chief Mark Wegner during the ninth inning, letting him know something important.

"Our phone wasn't working. We couldn't really communicate with the bullpen for some reason," Baldelli said. "Normally when things happen, they're actually our fault. It's like the guy complaining about the computer and then someone walks over and just pushes the button and all of a sudden, it's fixed."

That wasn't the case this time, though, so Baldelli wanted the umpires to know that they were using a walkie-talkie, approved by MLB during technical difficulties, to contact bullpen coach Colby Suggs.


Carlos Correa was not in the starting lineup for the third time in four games, but Baldelli said it was because he wanted to give the shortstop the afternoon off after playing Friday. "The right thing to do was get him off his feet [Saturday] and then have him back ready [Sunday]," the manager said of Correa, who experienced a mild case of plantar fasciitis earlier in the week. "And going forward, he'll be in a good spot. That's our goal right now."

Edouard Julien, an Ontario native, on his two-double-and-a-homer day: "To get off to a hot start makes you more confident at the plate, knowing you can do damage and see the ball well. Felt great, and especially to do it in front of all these [Canadian] fans, and to do it against Toronto."

Mark Contreras had three hits, including a three-run double in a seven-run fifth inning, and the Saints routed Omaha 14-1 Saturday night at CHS Field. Royce Lewis hit a two-run homer to cap the scoring, the fourth homer of his rehab stint. Jose Miranda went 0-for-6 and is hitting .148 since his demotion to St. Paul.