Home News Carlos Correa records four hits in Twins win over Royals

Carlos Correa records four hits in Twins win over Royals

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MINNEAPOLIS — Had either of the deep fly balls hit by Byron Buxton or Michael A. Taylor earlier in the game carried a matter of feet further, the Twins would have put Monday’s game away much earlier.

In the big picture, though, the way they actually did pull away from the Royals was probably the way they needed to do it as they continue to seek consistency amid their extended — and, recently, existential — offensive malaise.

The last of Carlos Correa’s season-high four hits came amid a frenzy of five straight singles that the Twins’ offense strung together in a five-run eighth inning to distance themselves from the Royals in an 8-4 victory at Target Field, and a team that preached the need to adjust its approach through players taking over leadership of pregame hitters’ meetings showed one of its most encouraging rallies yet.

“I’ve been talking about always trying to have a better two-strike approach, and I’m just trying to lead by example and trying to not just go out there and try to be a slugger, but try to be a hitter,” Correa said. “I’m just trying to hit the ball on a line right now.”

Correa’s first four-hit game since Sept. 4, 2022, brought him to 999 career knocks, and perhaps most encouragingly to him, the three singles and double embodied the focus of his work since the Twins had their closed-door meeting in Atlanta during the last road trip: his two-strike approach.

After the first-pitch double to begin the first inning, the Twins’ new leadoff hitter collected each of his next three singles in two-strike counts, including a grounder up the middle in the third, an opposite-field liner in the fifth and a run-scoring grounder to left in the eighth. Compare that to his entire month of June, when he had only five two-strike hits in total as he hit .104 and slugged .146 in two-strike counts.

“He just puts together a good two-strike at-bat and goes the other way,” Edouard Julien said. “Maybe it fuels the other guys to do the same. There are so many good at-bats all throughout the game. We just take our hits the opposite way, and I think that’s the biggest difference. That makes the offspeed a little less sharp and we don’t chase as much.”

And though Julien himself led off the eighth inning with a go-ahead solo homer on the first pitch of his pinch-hit plate appearance, what followed was exactly the kind of sustained rally the Twins have wanted to see — and for which manager Rocco Baldelli has openly campaigned.

It came in a variety of different looks, from Joey Gallo’s walk to an opposite-field single by Christian Vázquez to Michael A. Taylor’s perfectly executed squeeze bunt to Correa’s two-strike hit and simple contact from both Max Kepler and Alex Kirilloff, too, that resulted in singles.

The Twins, who lead the Majors in strikeouts, only fanned seven times as a team, and their 14 hits marked their most since their May 29 victory in Houston.

“We did a good job of adjusting in some of these at-bats, of hitting balls in different spots in the zone,” Baldelli said. “Even if you get down in the count, actually simply just finding a way and fighting to put it in play. We’ve talked about those things for a little while this year, and you can see that’s what it looks like when you mix in some good swings and just some tough at-bats.”

The Twins have remained quiet about what transpired in that players’ meeting in Atlanta, or about Kyle Farmer’s incentive program for his teammates, or about the nature of the changes that have come in their process since then as hitters have taken over the leadership of the hitters’ meetings once led by the hitting coaches.

One thing they do say, though, is that the information coming to them is the same, but that the ownership of their plan allows for them to take responsibility for their own results instead of being able to point fingers anywhere else.

“It’s just us running our own meeting, taking accountability in what we do, because at the end of the day, that’s our careers,” Byron Buxton said. “For us, we’re the ones that go play, day in and day out. It’s up to us to keep coming together and finding ways to produce.”

For Correa, that accountability looked like honing in on his two-strike approach — and that translated to the results on Monday.

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