In the midst of a night that possibly could turn his rookie season around, Aaron Hicks still made mistakes on Monday.
He reached over the center field fence in the sixth inning and snatched a potential game-tying home run by Adam Dunn to end the inning. Hicks ran to the dugout, high-fiving teammates along the way — and flipped the ball into the stands. The Twins had to retrieve his first home-run robbery.
Then Hicks capped the night with a solo home run into the bullpen in the bottom of the inning — his second homer of the game. Twins players tried to get him to oblige fans with a curtain call. The next batter, Pedro Florimon, had popped out before Hicks popped out of the dugout to salute the Target Field crowd.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joked he is going to fine Hicks for poor execution of a curtain call.
What are they going to do with this guy?
“I’m new to this,” Hicks reasoned.
The Twins socked it to the Chicago White Sox 10-3 on Monday night, but it will be known more for the game in which Hicks, their first-round draft pick in 2008, came alive.
His first multi-homer game was also his first multi-hit game as a major leaguer. He is the youngest Twin (23 years, 223 days) to have a multihomer game since Justin Morneau (23 years, 89 days) in 2004. And his catch was a momentum-stopper for Chicago.
He was doused with Gatorade by Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Escobar while being interviewed by FSN after the game, before Wilkin Ramirez smashed him in the face with a shaving cream pie.
“I’ve just been battling every day,” Hicks said. “That’s the thing you have to do in this league, and I just made some plays today and had some fun.”
The Twins fell behind 2-0 in the first inning but scored four runs in the third, thanks in part to a big error by White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Plouffe’s two-run double was the key hit.
Hicks’ first home run of the night came the next inning, on a 1-2 fastball from White Sox lefthander Hector Santiago (1-2) and traveled an estimated 416 feet to center field.
Chicago cut the lead to 5-3 in the sixth. Josh Roenicke replaced starter Pablo Hernandez (2-0) and struck out Dayan Viciedo with a runner on third. But Adam Dunn rocked a 1-1 pitch to center that appeared to be a sure home run.
Hicks raced back and to his right, turned and rose at the fence. Most of his forearm cleared the 8-foot wall as he made the catch, then tumbled to the ground.
“I saw Hicks go back, saw him catch it, and I threw my hand up in the air,” Roenicke said. “Once of the best catches I’ve been around, especially the time of the game, game-tying, saved the game.”
Hicks added his second homer of the game in the sixth, giving the Twins a 6-3 lead. The Twins added four runs in the eighth — three on a double by Morneau.
The Twins only talked about Hicks’ smile after the game. He smiled after making the catch, during the curtain call and even during the Gatorade shower. He is batting only .152 in his rookie season but they saw the weight come off his shoulders.
“That was fun for everyone involved,” Gardenhire said, “because we have all watched him battle this thing and fight through an awful lot and the struggles he’s been going through.’’