Twins get walk-off win from hot-hitting rookie Danny Valencia

6 Comments

Despite shutting out the Tigers for seven innings last night Francisco Liriano was denied his 13th win when the Twins’ bullpen couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead, but rookie third baseman Danny Valencia delivered a walk-off single in the 10th inning to give Minnesota the victory anyway.
Valencia began the season at Triple-A and was hitting just .292/.347/.373 with zero homers in 49 games when the Twins called him up in early June. At the time he was expected to simply provide an extra body for a few days while Michael Cuddyer was on bereavement leave, but three months later Valencia is still in the majors. And he’s hitting .332.
He’s continued to show little power after the homerless stretch at Triple-A, managing just two long balls in 208 at-bats with the Twins, but Valencia does have 16 doubles and a .332 batting average tends to make up for a lack of other things. Plus, he’s been significantly better than expected defensively, showing good range and an excellent arm at third base despite the Twins publicly questioning his glove this spring.
Valencia obviously won’t keep hitting .330, but as the batting average comes back down to earth his power should rise–prior to this season he smacked 19 homers per 150 games in the minors–and his unexpected contributions have been a big part of the Twins ability to thrive without Justin Morneau for the past two months.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: