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Standartinė elaine95 » 2019 Sau 09, 06:01

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Max Kepler saw a lot of pitches Friday night , and it paid off Saturday night.Kepler had three hits, including a two-run homer that put Minnesota ahead to stay, and Jose Berrios threw seven sharp innings to help the Twins to an 8-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.Kepler went 3 for 3 with a walk and scored twice. He walked three times in Minnesota’s 6-4 victory in the series opener.“The more pitches you see in an at-bat, the better you start to see the ball with time, and I think we’re doing that pretty well as a team right now,” he said. “I hit some line drives and ground balls that some nights can be caught. Today, luckily they find holes.”Eddie Rosario and Logan Morrison also homered as the Twins won their second straight against the Royals.“We don’t want guys to try to step up and be supermen,” manager Paul Molitor said of his offense coming alive. “It’s just understand that you go out there and bring what you can bring.”Berrios (11-8) retired his first six batters, but had trouble throwing strikes in his middle innings and allowed the Royals to take a 2-1 lead after walking the bases loaded in the third. The All-Star right-hander settled down and remained unbeaten against AL Central opponents this season.“Seven innings didn’t look very likely after he gave up those couple, but he got it done,” Molitor said. “And thankfully, the bats came alive.”The Twins regained the lead on Kepler’s homer off Burch Smith (1-3) in the fourth. Rosario added a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and Logan Forsythe and Bobby Wilson each drove in a run in the sixth.“I still felt pretty good,” Smith said. “They just capitalized on mistakes. I didn’t make a pitch, and they hit it. It’s a good-hitting team.Morrison added his 15th homer in seventh Jesus Sucre Jersey , a towering two-run shot off Glenn Sparkman that traveled an estimated 442 feet before landing in the right-field concourse.SMITH’S STARTSmith was charged with a season-high six runs in five-plus innings in his fifth start of the year. Manager Ned Yost still said Smith threw the ball well.“He started laboring in the sixth inning after about the 80-pitch mark, 85-pitch mark. Up until that point, I thought he did a good job of keeping us in the game and throwing strikes,” Yost said.DRAKE THE JOURNEYMANMinnesota’s Addison Reed and Oliver Drake combined for two innings of scoreless relief. Drake, claimed off waivers from Toronto on Friday, set a major league record by pitching for his fifth team this season. He arrived at the ballpark on Saturday afternoon and said he appreciated the chance to get right to work.“I think my catch partner though the whole time has been a fence post back home, so it’s just nice to get back out there playing baseball, throwing to hitters, competing,” Drake said.And the record?“It’s definitely cool having all the jerseys,” he said smiling. “That’s going to be something that looking back it’s going to be a cool collection. I don’t know if this is something I’ll brag about, but it’ll definitely be a neat story.”TRAINER’S ROOMTwins: Molitor said RHP Aaron Slegers (shoulder) would begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on Saturday night. … RHP Michael Pineda is scheduled to begin his recovery from Tommy John surgery when he starts his rehab assignment with the Florida Gulf Coast on Monday.JOHAN’S CALLThe Twins inducted former ace Johan Santana into the franchise’s hall of fame in a pregame ceremony. Santana, who won two AL Cy Young Awards during his eight seasons in Minnesota, became the 31st member of the Twins Hall of Fame. For five seasons, from 2003-07 , he led the AL in wins (82), strikeouts (1,152), ERA (2.92) and opponent batting average (.212).Surrounded by family and former teammates, Santana was introduced by former teammate Torii Hunter before being presented with a Twins blazer by Rod Carew.“Go chase your dreams, work hard, be passionate about what you do. Have fun and never give up, and good things will happen to you,” Santana told the crowd.UP NEXTRoyals: LHP Danny Duffy (7-9) will make his 24th start of the season Sunday. After posting a 6.88 ERA in his first 10 starts, he has a 3.00 ERA since May 24, the fourth-lowest in the AL in that stretch.Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (0-0) looks to return to his ace form when makes his third start since returning from the 60-day DL after being sidelined by an injured finger. He has allowed a combined eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings with six strikeouts this season. When Major League Baseball broke for the All-Star Game about a month ago, it seemed safe to take some things for granted about the National League.For one, the NL Central race was strictly between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. For another, the NL MVP race was mainly between Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman and Javier Baez.Then Matt Carpenter happened.Thanks to a wayward fastball that struck his right hand on August 15 Matt Moore Jersey , the St. Louis Cardinals' 32-year-old infielder has been quiet of late. Yet his numbers since the All-Star break still boggle the mind. In 31 games, Carpenter has put up a 1.106 OPS and slammed an NL-high 14 home runs.Couple this with the strong work that Carpenter was doing prior to the break, and he now boasts a .957 OPS and 33 homers. The latter is already a career high, as well as the most in the NL this year. The former translates to a 159 OPS+ that also leads the Senior Circuit.Meanwhile, the temperature of the Cardinals has mirrored that of Carpenter's bat.Their 20-11 record since the break is the best of any National League team, and it's done wonders for their standing in the NL playoff chase. At the break, the Cardinals were 7.5 games out of first in the NL Central and four games outside the second wild-card spot. Now, they're four games out in the division and a half-game out in the wild card.This isn't all Carpenter's doing. In retrospect, the firing of manager Mike Matheny looks like the removal of a weight off the team's back. Also, St. Louis' bullpen has shaped up with an MLB-low2.07 ERA in August.It's nonetheless fair to surmise that the Cardinals wouldn't be doing this without Carpenter. And while this isn't an altogether unfamiliar position for the three-time All-Star, it's to his credit that the driver's seat is now all his.Carpenter emerged as one of the NL's better hitters between 2012 and 2016, racking up a 130 OPS+. But he sunk to a 120 OPS+, and he began 2018 on track to decline even further. He had a .579 OPS at the end of April, and it was as low as .739 as late as June 7.But in 64 games since then? Try a staggering .306/.431/.711 slash line with 26 homers.The popular explanation for Carpenter's ongoing surge has something to do with homemade salsa鈥攚hich, to be fair , does look mighty tasty. Otherwise, the man himself can't really articulate how he's suddenly turned into a master slugger."It's not the hitter I was. It's not the hitter I've ever been. I'm just developing into somebody I've never tried to be. I don't really have an explanation for that," he said, according to Rick Hummel of theSt. Louis Post-Dispatch.From the outside looking in, however, the sluggerification of Matt Carpenter appears to be a case of a really good hitter deciding to assert himself.Salsa notwithstanding, Carpenter is probably best known for his fondness for efficiency. To wit, his 36.7 swing percentage since 2012 is the lowest of any hitter with at least 3,000 plate appearances. He also doesn't like wasting batted balls, preferring well-hit balls in the air.There's a fine line between patience and passivity, however, and Carpenter was on the wrong side of it earlier in 2018. His Swing% was down to 35.4, and that covered just a 54.7 Swing% against pitches in the strike zone.Carpenter hasn't exactly turned into Vladimir Guerrero since then, but those numbers are up to 38.9 and 60.2, respectively. His batted ball profile has also changed in ways that are conducive to maximum power:Carpenter has been better about getting the ball off the ground and hitting it hard. He's also been making more frequent use of his pull side , which is the best avenue for slugging.This isn't happening because he's been getting a curiously consistent diet of hanging breaking balls to feast on. Rather, it's happening because he's made mincemeat salsa of fastballs.Through June 7, Carpenter was swinging at just 31.9 percent of fastballs and hitting them at a 20.4-degree launch angle. Since June 8, he's up to a 39.2 swing percentage and a 21.7-degree launch angle against them.He's also gone from inside-outing fastballs to left-center field:Image courtesy of BaseballSavant.MLB.comTo driving them to right field:Image courtesy of BaseballSavant.MLB.comLo and behold, Carpenter has gone from slugging .435 against fastballs to slugging .772 against them. The latter is tops among all hitters since June 8.This doesn't mean Carpenter can't be stopped. Indeed, he's in the process of being stopped. He had been riding a five-game hitless streak before a 1-for-4 showing Sunday against the Brewers. The longer this slump continues, the more vulnerable the Cardinals' postseason odds and Carpenter's own MVP chances will become.But for now, both look pretty good.According to FanGraphs, St. Louis' postseason odds hit a nadir at seven percent on July 31. They've since shot up to 47.5 percent.For his part, Carpenter is front and center in the National League MVP race. He's been the NL's best hitter overall, as well as one of the hottest of the second half. As a bonus, eight of his 14 second-half homers have been either tying or go-ahead shots.If the next month-and-a-half is anything like the last month for Carpenter and the Cardinals, they're going to return to the postseason and he's going to have both numbers and a narrative going for him in the NL MVP race.Not bad for a player and a team that seemed dead and buried not too long ago. Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.
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