Twins fans remember it well. A fly ball would jump off of the bat of division rival’s bat and for a split second, it didn’t look good. But, when the television would switch shots to center field, you knew it would be okay. Torri was on it. Not only did he have scary-fast reactions to the ball when he roamed the Dome turf, he took the right angle and timed his leap. It was beautiful to watch. It was as natural as can be. And every bit of it was under control.
Control is a vital part of what we fans like to call the “Twins style of baseball.” Do the little things right. It means when it’s time to lay down a bunt, the batter can put it down in fair territory on the first or second try. It means hitting the cuttoff. It means pulling the ball when you need to move a runner over to third. Heck, it even means just throwing strikes, but that’s rarely an issue for our boys.
There are two ways that I suspect that we’ve drifted away from that part of “Twins baseball” lately. One is easy to see. I’ll give you a hint: Carlos Gomez. Wow. Talk about a kid with a mountain of physical ability but a complete lack of control. From tracking down flies to swinging out of his cleats, Gomez seems to be red-lining all the time out there. When Span made his way back to the bigs last season, that was what stuck out for me the most. he started playing the game under control. He waited for his pitch. He took controlled swings. He simply slowed down a bit.
Our esteemed manager is not without blame here either. In Sunday’s loss to the Indians, he made all the right moves until Span came to the plate in the ninth. Runners on first and second, no outs, and a very good bunter at the plate. Lay one down, take the double play out of the equation and you almost guarantee that Morneau has a shot at tying the game before it’s all said and done. I think Gardy wanted to ride the hot hand in Span and it seriously back fired.
Play the small ball. Play in control. That’s what keeps the Twins consistent and keeps us in the race every year.