'I come here to work': Arraez lifts Twins

June 26th, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- It’s definitely been a good day at the office when you can leave the ballpark with your name on a short list alongside that of Hall of Famer Rod Carew.

can now say he knows what that feels like. With some help from a rough showing in the field by Cleveland’s outfielders, Arraez clubbed two triples and a double, scored two runs and drove in three, including two on a go-ahead double in the sixth to send Minnesota to an 8-7 win over Cleveland at Target Field on Friday night.

“We’ve seen him string together these types of games, where he’s just having those games making it very difficult on opposing pitchers, driving the ball all over the place, using the whole field,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That’s what he does. He’s a pest and I love watching him play.”

That “pest” joined Carew, Chuck Knoblauch and Carlos Gómez as the only players in Twins' history with two triples and a double in one game. He was also the first Twins player with multiple triples in a game since Ehire Adrianza accomplished the feat on Aug. 30, 2017.

"It [means] a lot for me because I come here to work hard and I do this for my teammates, for the fans who support me every day,” Arraez said.

Alex Kirilloff also crushed a two-run homer as part of a four-run third inning and Nelson Cruz knocked a game-tying RBI single in the fifth as the Twins clawed their way back from two deficits before Arraez’s final knock put them on top for good.

The Twins got contributions from all around, but the night surely belonged to Arraez, who played a key role in three of Minnesota’s four run-scoring rallies to help the Twins to their sixth win in their last eight games. That came even after Minnesota fell behind in a bullpen game started by Danny Coulombe and Griffin Jax, who earned his first career win with 4 1/3 innings in relief.

The first act of Arraez’s effort didn’t even require him to step into the batter’s box. When Cleveland leadoff hitter César Hernández lofted a fly ball down the left-field line to start the game, Arraez ranged to the line and made a sliding snag -- not bad for a converted infielder who has learned the position in the last two years.

“That was definitely a very good play going toward the line like that,” said fellow converted infielder Nick Gordon. “You’ve got to be careful of the wall, and for him to make that sliding grab, that was awesome. That was a great play. He’s an athlete.”

Arraez got some help from Josh Naylor to lead off the bottom of the first, when the Cleveland right fielder took a bad route to a liner and let the ball roll all the way to the wall for an easy triple. He scored on Josh Donaldson’s sacrifice fly to third baseman José Ramírez, a rarity that likely should have heralded the fireworks to come.

His next triple was a liner to left-center that was kicked to the wall on a sliding effort by left fielder Bradley Zimmer, driving home a run as part of the four-run third that gave Minnesota a short-lived 5-3 lead.

But finally, his sixth-inning double didn’t involve any defensive shenanigans -- a clear, ringing drive off the wall in left-center that brought home Gordon and Andrelton Simmons to account for the eventual winning run.

Arraez has now hit safely in all eight of his starts since coming off the injured list on June 14 following his recovery from a right shoulder strain, including three multi-hit efforts in his last four starts.

And though Arraez didn’t have the best start to his season by his standards, with a .277 average and .691 OPS at the time he went down with injury in late May, it’s no surprise at all to the Twins that he’s making such a big impact from the top of the lineup, spraying the ball all over the field -- as he does when he’s seeing the ball well.

“He hasn't even, until this point, probably even gotten hot, and he's still on base all the time and he's still doing a great job in doing all that,” Baldelli said. “Now, we're seeing what it looks like when he's in tune and getting hot the way he can. He's capable of this. He's done it before and he'll do it again.”