PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Aaron Hicks went 4-for-4 on Thursday, collecting two hits from each side of the plate. But that's not what Ron Gardenhire remembered from his young center fielder's night.
"He overthrew the cutoff man again, which gave them another run," Gardenhire said after the Twins' 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay. "Which is a good teaching point."
That's because, when Justin Christian singled in the seventh, Hicks came up with the ball and decided to try to throw out Jerry Sands, who scored easily from second base. As Hicks' throw sailed toward the plate, Christian moved up to second base, and scored when Ray Olmedo followed with a double.
"The guy who hit the ball went to second and scored on another base hit. So there you have it -- the fifth run, and we end up losing the game by a run," Gardenhire explained. "Throw the ball down. He had no chance to throw the guy out at home, I don't care how strong his arm is. We hit the cutoff man, keep the man on first, who knows what happens?"
Still, Gardenhire was happy with Hicks' night, in which he raised his batting average to .375 with a double and three singles -- one of which could have been a double or even a triple. Hicks led off the third inning by bashing Cesar Ramos' first pitch to the warning track in center field. But he stumbled before he even reached first base, then sprawled in the dirt after rounding the bag without touching it.
"I missed the bag, so i couldn't even keep going," he said. "I was running, and looking at [outfielder Desmond Jennings] at the same time, and first base kind of snuck up on me."
What did first-base coach Scott Ullger say to Hicks as he arrived back at first? "He said, "Sniper get you?" Hicks laughed.