MLB: Short hitting slump over, Twins ready for Diamondbacks again
One night after their clutch hitting was substandard, the Minnesota Twins ripped big hits in a laugher against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday.
The Twins hope to repeat their feats on Sunday when they wrap up a three-game series in Phoenix.
In Friday’s opener, the Twins had eight hits in the first three innings but pushed across only two runs then and lost 7-2. They ended up 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
It was a different story in the middle contest of the three-game set Saturday as Minnesota was 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position while rolling to an 11-1 victory.
“We bounced back great,” said Twins outfielder Trevor Larnach, who was one of five players with two hits on Saturday. “Hopefully we can do that again (Sunday).”
Gary Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers each hit two-run homers, and Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff and Gio Urshela added two RBI apiece as the Twins racked up 14 hits. It marked the fifth time Minnesota scored 10 or more runs this season.
Luis Arraez, Carlos Correa, Nick Gordon, and Kepler joined Larnach in getting two hits.
“The at-bats were really good,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We made really good adjustments quickly in the game. It’s nice to see good, quality at-bats and hard-hit balls. We found a lot of ways to put runs on the board.”
Arraez was pinch-hit for in the fifth inning due to illness. He leads the majors with a .363 batting average.
Saturday’s victory was Minnesota’s first in Phoenix since June 8, 2005. The Twins had lost five straight at Arizona, including Friday night’s setback.
The Diamondbacks had just four hits in Saturday’s loss. Arizona had 11 while roughing up Minnesota on Friday.
Dylan Bundy became the first Twins’ pitcher to go eight innings this season and the Diamondbacks were unable to figure him out.
Arizona’s Christian Walker is hitless in 15 at-bats over the past four games, while Pavin Smith is 0-for-21 over his last seven appearances and is batting just .080 (4-for-50) in June.
Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte (left hamstring) has missed the first two games of the series and is unlikely to play Sunday. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said MRI results displayed that Marte has a slight strain.
The timing is bad for Marte, who has overcome a slow start to increase his average to .269. He is batting .300 this month after hitting .363 in May and a dismal .146 in April.
Arizona utility man Daulton Varsho departed Saturday’s game after grounding out in the sixth inning. Lovullo said Varsho has a left-heel contusion.
“He’s a very physical, fast runner, trying to leg out a base hit and just hit it on the wrong spot,” Lovullo said. “We’ll continue to evaluate him through the rest of the night here and on into the morning. We’ll see how he feels. For right now, he’ll be day to day.”
Right-hander Chris Archer (1-2, 3.35 ERA) will start the finale for the Twins. Archer has pitched fewer than five innings in 10 of his 12 starts.
He received a no-decision against the Seattle Mariners last Monday when he gave up one unearned run and four hits over four innings.
Archer is 1-1 with a 7.94 ERA in three career starts against Arizona.
Merrill Kelly (5-4, 3.68) will make his 14th start of the season for the Diamondbacks.
The 33-year-old right-hander lost to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday when he gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings. He had beaten the Reds five days earlier when he allowed just one hit over six scoreless innings.
Kelly has never faced Minnesota.
–Field Level Media