Larnach gave Twins the lead on Friday, but he was aiming for the horse

·3 min read

Jul. 10—There's a scene in "The Magnificent Seven" where James Coburn's character, Britt, shoots a bad guy off a horse at 150 yards. Impressed, the callow gunman played by Horst Buchholz says to him, "That was the greatest shot I've ever seen."

"The worst," Coburn replies. "I was aiming for the horse."

Here is where Trevor Larnach found himself after driving in the go-ahead run in Friday night's 4-2 victory over the Tigers. With a runner on third and left-hander Ian Krol on the mound, Larnach sent a bouncer through Detroit's drawn-in infield to put the Twins up 1-0 in what became a four-run sixth inning.

Larnach got the run home, but he was aiming for the horse.

"The guy threw me a slider on the outer half and I rolled it over," Larnach said. "Yeah, it got through, it got the job done; but that's not what I wanted to do with it."

By his own admission, Larnach, a rookie outfielder who helped Oregon State win the College World Series in 2018, is hard on himself. The home runs are often squelched by the memory of a strikeout. When he talks about making adjustments at the plate, he doesn't mention the pitcher.

"I'm trying to make my adjustments based on what I'm getting myself out with," he said.

Larnach is having a solid rookie season. He entered Saturday's game against the Tigers at Target Field hitting .262 with a .357 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 21 RBIs in 52 games. But he expects more. The Twins, who chose him with the 20th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft, likely do, as well.

The Twins might be more patient than the player, who with Alex Kirilloff, catcher Ryan Jeffers and pitcher Bailey Ober was one of four rookies to start for Minnesota on Saturday.

Kirilloff hit a big two-run home run, but Larnach and Jeffers were a combined 0 for 6 with a walk in the Twins' 9-4 victory. Ober was chased after just 3 1/3 innings and charged with four runs on four hits and two walks.

"I'm here to drive the ball, and I know I can drive the ball," Larnach said. "I haven't done that exactly to the point where I've wanted to, but my expectations for myself some people say are unrealistic, but to me they seem realistic. So, I work toward that."

Larnach has a good role model in Max Kepler, another young, left-handed hitting outfielder who hit 36 homers and drove in 90 runs for the 2019 division winners. Larnach has bent Kepler's ear, and seen what he does.

A few batters after Larnach's RBI bleeder on Friday, Kepler drove a Krol breaking ball into left field for a two-run triple and a 4-0 lead.

"Kepler got the same pitch and he drove it the other way; that's what I'm trying to do," Larnach said. "I'm not trying to hit a ground ball and find a hole and get lucky; I'm trying to drive the ball and hit for extra bases and drive in runs."