Arcia heeds advice to hit game winner

Twins left fielder shortens swing with 2 strikes before walk-off shot

Arcia heeds advice to hit game winner

MINNEAPOLIS -- Considering Oswaldo Arcia had struck out in 10 of his previous 19 at-bats, hitting coach Tom Brunansky wasn't shy about yelling out to Arcia to shorten his swing after falling behind Indians reliever Zach McAllister in the ninth inning.

McAllister got Arcia to take a big swing and a miss on a 1-1 fastball to make it 1-2, and Brunansky had to remind Arcia to switch to a two-strike approach. Brunansky's advice paid off, as Arcia was able to connect on a 93-mph fastball over the plate and lift it into the right-field seats to give the Twins a 4-3 walk-off win on Monday, a day after losing a 16-inning marathon against the Nationals.

"I'm standing next to Brunansky, and every time [Arcia] takes one of those out-of-control swings, Bruno is yelling at him," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You can see him step out of the box and regroup. I think he's learning the short swing can still get the ball a long way. He just gets emotional and outside himself sometimes, but that was a classic two-strike swing and the ball went out of the ballpark."

Must C: Arcia's walk-off homer

Arcia, who is hitting .257/.333/.514 with three homers and six RBIs in 10 games this season, has shown improved plate discipline from last year, when he played in just 19 games with the Twins, but it's been a work in progress. He said he's always listening to Brunansky's advice from the dugout.

"I can hear him," Arcia said through an interpreter. "I mainly just take that advice and understand what he's saying. I don't have to take a big swing to hit the ball far. I'm strong so I'm going to hit the hard far regardless. Even if it's a single or a double, it's fine."

Arcia has been able to come through in big situations this year, as he hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning against the Angels on April 16 and a walk-off single against the Angels the next day. His walk-off homer on Monday was the first for the Twins since Brian Dozier had one against the Orioles on July 6, 2015.

"He's come up with some big hits early this season," Molitor said. "He can take some funny swings and is very animated in the batter's box as an emotional guy. Even that at-bat, his swings weren't overly good. But he got a mistake and he ended the game."

More than anything, Arcia's homer saved the bullpen, as Twins relievers combined to pitched 11 innings on Sunday and threw 4 1/3 innings on Monday with lefty Tommy Milone lasting 4 2/3 innings. The lone run allowed by the bullpen was a homer from Yan Gomes in the eighth off Ryan Pressly, but otherwise the relievers picked up the slack for Milone and kept the Twins in the game to allow for Arcia's walk-off winner.

"It was huge," Milone said. "Especially with the way things went using the bullpen yesterday. It's big to get out of there in the ninth inning. Huge hit."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.