MINNEAPOLIS -- The early returns on Christopher Austin (TA) have been solid so far for the Twins since he was acquired in a trade with the Yankees at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.Austin showed off his prodigious power yet again on Sunday, smacking two homers in a 6-2 loss
MINNEAPOLIS -- The early returns on Christopher Austin (TA) have been solid so far for the Twins since he was acquired in a trade with the Yankees at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Austin showed off his prodigious power yet again on Sunday, smacking two homers in a 6-2 loss to the A's in the Players' Weekend series finale at Target Field. He's hit .333/.370/.786 (14-for-42) with six homers and nine RBIs in 12 games with Minnesota since arriving as a part of the Lance Lynn (Mia) trade.
"It's fun to watch," Twins manager Paul Molitor (Doc) said. "You see his swing. He's going to miss some, but the fact is he can hit it line to line with plenty of power. We talked about the intrigue there, and hopefully, he keeps figuring it out with these opportunities as he continues to settle in. But it's been a nice start.":: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::
His first homer came in the fourth off right-hander Chris Bassitt (C Bass), and it was crushed into the CATCH restaurant section above the batter's eye in center. It had an exit velocity of 111 mph and went a projected 433 feet, per Statcast™.
Austin, 26, recorded his third two-homer game of the season with his second in the sixth off reliever Yusmeiro Petit (Yus). Austin drove an 0-2 fastball off the plate the other way to right, sending it a projected 354 feet with an exit velocity of 98 mph. He previously had multi-homer games with New York on March 31 and May 20.
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"Just swinging at good pitches, I think that's the big thing,' Austin said. "Not missing them, not fouling them off. When you do that, sometimes good things happen."
But it was all the offense the Twins could muster, and it wasn't enough for right-hander Jose Berrios (La Makina), who was feeling under the weather and surrendered three runs on eight hits over five innings. Berrios gave up a solo homer to Matt Chapman (Chappy) in the first and was visited at the mound after 14 pitches by Molitor, pitching coach Garvin Alston (G-Man) and trainer Tony Leo, but remained in the game.
"Jose was battling a little stomach issue today," Molitor said. "The 88-[mph fastballs] that were going up there -- after him warming up and knowing he wasn't 100 percent, we wanted to check on him to see if he could continue, which he wanted to do. Just did the best he could to stay hydrated and get himself through five innings."
Berrios settled down until allowing two runs in the fifth on a double from Jed Lowrie (Jedi), who was thrown out at third as he tried to stretch it to a triple. Berrios got through the inning with 94 pitches on the afternoon but was replaced by Matt Magill (Goose) in the sixth.
Magill struggled, serving up a solo homer to Stephen Piscotty (Momo) in the sixth and back-to-back long balls to Chapman and Lowrie in the seventh to put the game out of reach.
"The last three games had that pattern where their starters did a nice job before they turned it over," Molitor said. "We didn't do much against the bullpen the last few days. We were concerned [about Jose] early, but he fought through it with five innings. Some long balls followed later on. Just not enough offense again today."
POLANCO EXITS EARLY
After a two-out single to left in the fifth, Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco (Chulo) was removed from the game with leg cramping and was replaced by Ehire Adrianza (Guarenero) as a pinch-runner. Polanco was 2-for-3 with two singles prior to leaving the game.
"He got a little tightness in those legs," Molitor said. "We saw him stretching before the game, trying to stay loose. We just precautionarily took him off the field. If the next guy hits a double or something and he tries to extend it, I just thought the risk was too high. We'll probably back him off with the off-day and maybe Tuesday, but he should be fine."
Austin became the fourth Twins player to reach the CATCH section in center field, joining Byung Ho Park, Miguel Sano (Boqueton) and Jake Cave (Caveman). Park did it against the Angels on April 16, 2016, Sano reached it vs. the A's on May 2, 2017, and Cave did it against the Tigers on Aug. 19. Hall of Famer Jim Thome, who was honored in a pregame ceremony on Saturday, also reached that area in 2011 before the restaurant was added.
"I think the big thing is trying to get good pitches and not miss them, and stay in the strike zone," Austin said. "When I can stay in the strike zone and not expand, I'm pretty good for the most part. So, I have to continue working on that and getting better every day and working my approach."
HE SAID IT
"You can't do anything about it. That's the unfortunate part. His day comes up, and that's the one day where he's not feeling his normal self. It happened to be a day game, too, which has been a little bit of a stickler for him. We're not sure what the solution there is, if there's really something there to address. You just try to find a way to come back and split the series, and knowing that he's not at his best puts you at a disadvantage." -- Molitor on Berrios, who is 8-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 14 night starts but is 3-7 with a 4.94 ERA in 13 day games.
After an off-day on Monday, the Twins will head to Cleveland for a three-game American League Central series against the first-place Indians that begins on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Kyle Gibson (7-10, 3.63 ERA) will look to bounce back after he gave up seven runs (four earned) over 4 2/3 innings against the White Sox on Wednesday. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.55) will start for Cleveland.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.