Cruz, Twins capitalize when opportunity knocks

Home runs are the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Minnesota Twins’ offense. The team is dubbed the “Bomba Squad,” after all.

While the Twins are still smacking homers at an impressive rate this season — 20 through 13 games, which ranks fourth in Major League Baseball — they have once again shown a knack for producing when opportunity knocks.

As a team, Minnesota is batting a major-league best .372 with runners in scoring position (RISP) this season. And against starting pitchers, that number is boosted to .412, first in MLB among teams with more than seven games played. For reference, the Twins hit.292 with RISP last year, which ranked second in baseball.

Designated hitter Nelson Cruz has been simply absurd, going 9 for 12 (.750 average) with RISP. He’s registered one double, two homers, two walks and 13 RBI.

Outfielder Eddie Rosario isn’t far behind, going 5 for 10 (.500) with two doubles and six RBI. Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco are tied for third on the team, tallying three hits with RISP.

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It’ll be an interesting matchup this weekend when the red-hot Twins (10-3) pay their first visit to the Kansas City Royals (4-10).

Albeit another small sample size, the Royals have held teams to a .266 batting average with RISP and have turned an MLB-leading eight double plays with a runner on second or third base.

But, time and time again, the Twins’ lineup has proved it doesn’t matter which team it faces.

Since the 2019 season, the Bomba Squad has hit the sweet spot — putting a ball in play with a launch angle between eight and 32 degrees – 37% of the time, more than any other American League team. The Twins also boast the two players tied for the league lead in average exit velocity dating back to last season — Cruz and Josh Donaldson at 94.0 mph.

Good luck, Kansas City.