Twins aiming for contact approach with RISP
SEATTLE -- Kurt Suzuki chuckled on Sunday morning when asked if there is a secret to hitting with runners in scoring position, and if he happened to know that secret.
"If you did, you'd be a Hall of Famer, right?" the Twins catcher said.
Point well taken, but the fact of the matter is that the Twins are doing a good job in this common situation that is so crucial to winning baseball games. Entering Sunday's series finale against the Mariners, Minnesota was 26-for-87 (.299) in its last 11 games with runners in scoring position.
Twins manager Paul Molitor, a Hall of Famer himself, said it's probably unwise to read too much into this stat, which is borne of a small sample size. But he also said it's been a key area of focus in his conversations with players and with hitting coach Tom Brunansky.
"Those things have a tendency to kind of ebb and flow as a season goes on," Molitor said. "I think everyone's kind of aware of when you're not doing it and everyone's aware of when you are doing it. Two-out singles with men in scoring position are a really good thing for your team -- when the other team feels like they're almost out of the inning and somehow you continue it and put some numbers on the board."
Molitor said he tries to instill the mindset of the hitter entering the batter's box thinking merely about getting a hit and not doing anything greater than that.
"I think some guys are doing better," he said. "They're seeing it longer. ... If you think more about that, I think your odds of doing that increase, rather than just going up there and trying to hack away. There's a different approach to it when you're trying to get a run in, and I think these guys are buying into that."
Suzuki seemed to be on the same page with his skipper.
"It's really just not trying to do too much," Suzuki said. "You get a runner in scoring position, you just need to try to have a good at-bat and hit it hard. I think you can put a lot of pressure on yourself and things can go bad, but the more you stay within yourself, the better it will be."