SEATTLE — Never seen an ending like that. To read about the bizarre play that cinched the Twins' third straight victory, go here. But that’s not all that happened on Saturday. Here are a few extras from a long, long night at the ballpark:
Sitting in the firing line finally caught up to Kurt Suzuki. The Twins’ catcher, who has toughed out some incredibly vicious-looking foul tips this season, took another one Saturday night, and this one knocked him out of the game.
Suzuki came into the dugout after the second inning and seemed a little woozy, manager Paul Molitor said. So the Twins, fearful of the consequences if he took another shot off the mask, subbed in Juan Centeno.
“He’s been getting dinged. I don’t know how many direct shots he’s taken on foul tips this year,” Molitor said of Suzuki. A concussion test was administered in the clubhouse, and “he passed medical protocol, but you could tell he was off a little bit. Hopefully he’ll be OK.”
Centeno was briefly stunned by a foul tip, too, later in the game, potentially setting up a manager’s nightmare: No experienced catchers. Molitor said he has discussed such an emergency with Eduardo Escobar and Byung Ho Park, but he wasn’t forced to resort to that. And Centeno wound up making the night’s critical defensive play, jumping on a ball in the dirt and throwing it to second, triggering the bizarre, game-ending double play.
Trevor Plouffe’s biggest problem, as it turns out, was in his head, not his knee. He bruised his right knee about a week ago, and feared that he had damaged ligaments. In fact, he feared that the knee could blow out at any moment.
“I was getting super tentative, not wanting to make a wrong step, in the field, on base, just all over,” Plouffe said. “I was afraid something bad would happen.”
He underwent an MRI on Saturday, though, and learned that there’s no damage to the ligaments, just an admittedly painful bruise. “To find that out, that I’m not making it worse, that it’s not going to blow out, it’s a big relief,” he said. “It’s just [a matter of] pain now, so I’m good to go.”
Buddy Boshers last pitched in the major leagues in 2013, while with the Angels. So his appearance on Saturday, just two batters in the seventh inning, may seem inconsequential — but not to him.
“It felt good to be back at the highest level,” said the 28-year-old lefthander. “Hopefully I can stick around awhile and really get things going.”
Molitor summoned Boshers into the game in the seventh inning, just after the Twins had taken a 6-5 lead, quite a big situation for his debut as a Twin.
“I liked the situation — it was left-left-right,” Boshers said. He got Kyle Seager to fly out to left, but then right-handed pinch-hitter Dae-Ho Lee singled, and Molitor turned to Trevor May to get out of the inning.
Still, for a guy who pitched for the Somerset Patriots last year, it was a nice moment.
“It means a lot, considering where i was last year,” Boshers said. “Independent ball, it’s about as low as you can go as a professional. So to get back to the majors, it’s pretty nice.”
The night wasn’t so nice for Phil Hughes, who for the third time this month, didn’t complete five innings. He had pitched better in his last two starts, but was back to giving up baserunners again Saturday.
In fact, it was just the second time in his Twins career — and first time since his second start in 2014 — that he walked three hitters in a game.
“I was hoping to build some momentum off my last couple of starts. Tonight, some balls ran over the plate, [and I had] a lot of baserunners,” he said. “But I was able to make it not as bad as it could have been.”
He did, escaping bases-loaded-no-outs situations in both the second and third innings. He allowed one run in the second on a double play, but got three straight popups to hold Seattle scoreless in the third.
Still, that’s a lot of tightrope to be walking.
“His curveball just isn’t getting the weak contact,” Molitor said. “He’s still challenging guys, though.”
That brought up a tough decision for Molitor: Hughes, protecting a 5-4 lead with two out in the fifth inning, was one out away from qualifying for his second win. But runners were on second and third, and another lefthander, catcher Steve Clevenger was due up.\ Molitor chose to remove Hughes, who had thrown 86 stressful pitches, and bring in lefthander Taylor Rogers.
“It was tough. I had rogers up in the third and fourth [innings], and it just got to a point where it was a battle,” Molitor said. “I knew I had a fresh bullpen and I had to keep that run from scoring and the best option, I thought, was to bring in a lefthander.”
Rogers got the final out (though he allowed the tying run on a leadoff home run by Luis Sardinas in the next inning) by striking out Clevenger, but Hughes appeared furious as he reached the dugout, slamming his glove into the bench. Molitor said he didn’t see Hughes’ reaction, and the pitcher said it wasn’t losing the victory that bothered him, just the fact that he can’t get himself on a roll this season.
“It was just frustration. This year hasn’t been great for anybody,” Hughes said. “Just a culmination of everything.”