Pedro Hernandez's command of English is good enough to convey how happy he was Saturday. Actually, his broad smile was enough.
The Venezuelan lefthander had a game ball in his locker after the Twins' 7-2 win over Texas, a souvenir that he said he intends to put next to his daughter's crib as a gift. "She deserves it," Hernandez said.
Her dad wasn't bad, either. Because of all the rainouts and off days, Hernandez has pitched only one inning since April 12, so the Twins weren't certain how he would look in his second start of the year. But his second was even more efficient than his first.
Hernandez allowed a baserunner in each of the first four innings, and there were a handful of hard-hit balls that were turned into outs by a sometimes-spectacular Twins defense. But mostly, the lefthander kept the Rangers chasing his surprisingly effective curveball.
"He threw a lot of off-speed stuff," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Gotta give him credit -- he kept us off-balance. He went five innings and shut us out."
He was willing to go farther, considering he had only thrown 80 pitches and had retired eight of the final nine batters he faced, but the Twins didn't want to risk injury, given how little he's pitched. He might have to wait awhile for his next start, too; with an off day coming on Thursday, it's possible he won't start again until Tuesday, May 7 in Boston, should manager Ron Gardenhire decide to skip his turn in Cleveland next Friday.
Hernandez sometimes almost seems like he can't believe he's here, so his reaction after becoming a winning pitcher was understandable.
"I don't know what to say right now. This is a beautiful experience, it's a beautiful emotion for me," Hernandez said. "I'm just so happy."
A couple more thoughts from a gorgeous spring afternoon:
-- Brian Dozier made an aggressive play on what looked like a passed ball in the sixth inning, but he was sent back to second base. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski blocked a ball in the dirt, jumped up and grabbed it; as he turned toward the plate, the ball squirted out of his glove and rolled several feet away.
As Dozier pulled into third base, umpire Alfonso Marquez waved him back to third, ruling that time had been called. Dozier, and then Gardenhire, complained, but the call stood.
"The umpire said he made a mistake. He called time too early," Dozier said. "He even told Gardy, 'Listen, I made a mistake.' "
-- The Twins are now 10-10 on the season, which isn't bad considering all the bad weather they've played in and how much of an effect (arguably) that it's had on their offense. The Twins came into the day ranked last in the American League in hits, doubles, RBIs and slugging percentage, and next-to-last in runs and home runs. Joe Mauer is the only regular hitting above .255, and even he is in the midst of an 0-for-12 mini-slump.
And 10 wins is even more impressive when you consider how far ahead of their 2012 pace they are. Last year, they won their 10th game on Sunday, May 13 -- "improving" them to 10-24.