Luis Araz stood watching the ball he had just fired flying toward the goal square. After she bounced on the concrete and the crowd flocked to pick it up, Arraez started skipping to first base.
But not before he stares straight into the twins’ lair while flipping his racket 10 feet in the air. Once you’ve rounded off the bases and revived all of his teammates, send a kiss to the camera.
“When I hit the ball, I knew it was Homer,” Ariz said, adding of turning the bat, “I wanted to do it there for my teammates.”
The 25-year-old’s first major slam could not have come at a more opportune time, as Ariz is literally the best hitter in baseball right now, leading the league with a batting average of 367 and a 0.449 base percentage. .
Saturday’s game was the same for the Venezuelan, who went 3 for 5 with those four of the RBI and scored a run. He led the Twins to a 6-5 win in front of an advertised 22,741 fans, taking the MLS Central leaders to 35-26 overall. AL East Rays dropped to 34-25.
Many players approaching the board in the situation that Ariz did – rules loaded, no teams, losing 3-0 in the third game – would press themselves and focus on hitting the ball as hard as they can.
But not Araz. He confirmed after the match that his focus and approach never wavered. He was just looking to put the ball into play. This discipline earned him prolific praise from coach Rocco Baldele and is a big reason for his numbers to be what they are, considering that this was his third time at home this season.
“It’s really impressive the way he can move back and forth between letting the ball move and spraying the ball all over the field,” Baldeli said. “…It makes it seem so easy. It’s not easy. Most people can’t do those two things. They can’t.”
Arraez was a major part of forcing Tampa Bay starter Shane Paz off the hill in that third inning after Right gave up five runs on three strokes and three runs with two hits.
His twin counterpart, first Chi Chi Gonzalez, struggled in the first half, giving up five hits and three runs. But the right settled down a bit to make it four rounds with only three more hits allowed before Trevor Miguel took the mound and eventually claimed his second victory.
Emilio Pagan finished ninth with 1-2-3 on two strokes to maintain the lead in one game and save him for the eighth time. He even considered Ares to be the main title in the game, describing his recent offensive streak as “amazing”.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Pagan said. “No one should be able to get that many hits for days in a row.” “He’s unbelievable. He’s put a lot of work into him and I hope he keeps doing that all year. I told him yesterday he’s going to win the batting title, and he’s going to be the first player on the All-Star team. I want him to get the Golden Glove, too, do it all.”
These are some of the lofty ambitions of someone who Pagan calls one of the team’s “lifeline”, and he brings energy and excitement to the club. Arraez has always been a known hitter, but has moved all over the field as a utility player throughout his career in the Twins. But if his defense kept trending like his attack, he might accomplish everything Pagan described.
In the first month of the season, the Rhys hit 0.318. In May .395. And now in June .438.
Ares states that he never looks at his hit rate, preferring to focus only on the actual hit. It’s more about the atmosphere than the stats.
“When I hit the ball, man, I felt really good,” said Ares.