Aaron Hicks is becoming a connoisseur of the catch, a dean of the dive, so even from center field, he could appreciate Chris Parmelee’s technique. Catch, squeeze, tumble — and accept the congratulations of a grateful pitcher.
“I deal with walls, he deals with stairs,” the rookie said admiringly Wednesday, after his memorable defense — and the oddly requisite followup home run — helped Samuel Deduno and two relievers pitch the Twins out of the A.L. Central basement and to their third consecutive victory over Milwaukee, 4-1 at Target Field. “I saw him catch it, and I went, ‘Yeah!’ ”
Parmelee’s daring catch — he grabbed a Carlos Gomez pop foul, then flipped over the railing at the camera well and tumbled down five stairs, all the time clutching the ball — mostly elicited gasps, considering the skull-cracking danger the cement posed. But he’s OK, and the stairs appeared undamaged as well.
“Parmelee is just fine,” deadpanned Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “He bounced well.”
So did the Twins, after a day spent fretting about fatigue, weariness and exhaustion. Injuries, travel and a relentless schedule have battered them, and especially their bullpen.
“We’re a little beat up,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve played 26 out of 27 days, road trips, the whole package.”
But Deduno didn’t look tired at all.
The Dominican righthander picked the perfect moment to complete seven strong innings for the first time since Sept. 10, limiting his bullpen’s workload to two innings — and the Brewers to one run.
“What a performance,” Gardenhire said, beaming. “He makes hitters uncomfortable. His fastball was diving all over the place, [he had] a good changeup, which was cutting away from the hitters. That was a good one.”
Deduno’s night was typically scattershot, punctuated by three hit batters, two walks and a balk. But Deduno gave the reeling Brewers, losers of five in a row, little else. He allowed only four hits, kept his pitch count down, and helped hold Milwaukee to 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
About the hardest he worked, in other words, was in celebrating the great plays behind him, more than once holding his hands in the air in jubilation.
“He definitely showed he cared that I went all out,” Hicks said of his amazing horizontal extension to save a run with a fourth-inning, grass-top snag of a Rickie Weeks line drive. Hicks also nearly made a leaping catch at the wall, but the impact knocked it out of his glove for a Gomez double. “It’s always fun to help the pitcher out.”
But mostly, Deduno helped the Twins, who were trying to recharge after Tuesday’s 14-inning victory and a middle-of-the-night flight home. They activated Trevor Plouffe from the disabled list — Chris Colabello, 1-for-11 in five games, was sent back to Class AAA Rochester to make room — but then lost Plouffe to a pregame cramp in his left calf, the same one that cost him a couple of weeks’ action in spring training. (Plouffe will be examined Thursday, and a return to the disabled list is a possibility, Gardenhire said.)
Five first-inning hits, including a two-run double by Ryan Doumit and Chris Herrmann’s first RBI of the season, staked Deduno to a three-run lead, and Hicks’ fourth-inning homer — oddly, they always come in games where he makes a memorable defensive play, too — gave him a fourth. That’s all Deduno, followed by Casey Fien and Glen Perkins with his 11th save, needed.
“He gave us a great performance,” Gardenhire said. “We needed it desperately.”