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Postgame: Fien goes backward, until he pitches

  • Blog Post by: Phil Miller
  • May 22, 2014 - 12:15 AM

    A handful of leftovers from the Twins' clubhouse after they moved two games above .500 for the first time this year:

    MOONWALKING ACROSS PETCO: Casey Fien jogged all the way across the outfield grass when he noticed umpire Chris Segal waving him back. The Twins were challenging the final out of the top of the eighth, and he couldn't enter the game yet. "My first thought was, 'Not again,' " said Fien, who was summoned to the mound by mistake due to a miscommunication with the bullpen last season. So Fien stopped, and began backpedaling without turning around. "I was going to backpedal all the way, but I got tired," the Twins' setup man said. "I realized I was only halfway [across] center field, and I thought, um, I'm going to turn around." He waited out the delay while standing on the warning track, and when the call was upheld, he jogged to the mound once more, and quickly dispensed with the Padres for his 16th scoreless outing in his last 17 appearances.

    NO WALKING FOR A MONTH: Phil Hughes last walked a batter on April 20, when the Royals' Alcides Escobar reached base in the second inning. Hughes has faced 147 batters since then and hasn't walked any of them, the longest such streak by a Twin since Carlos Silva's stretch of 155 in a row in June 2005. Ron Gardenhire says it figures it would be Silva -- at his best, he and Hughes were a lot alike. For one thing, they are both large men; Hughes is 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, while Silva was 6-4 and 275. But their repertoire was identical, too. "Those guys were control pitchers. Silva was the same things as that guy out there [Hughes] -- a sinker, inside and out, a little slider, sometimes a curveball," Gardenhire said. "He as the same pitcher as Hughsie." The streak is even more amazing, catcher Kurt Suzuki said, when you realize how hard Hughes throws, mostly 92-94 mph. "He's a power guy, too. So that makes it even more impressive," Suzuki said. "A power guy that doesn't walk guys? That's a good sign."

    UNEXPECTED TROUBLE: Hughes almost lost the streak in the fifth inning, however, when a dogged batter kept fouling pitches away and refusing to bite on fastballs just off the corner. That batter was Tyson Ross, the Padres' starting pitcher, who has one hit all season. "He's fouling off fastball after fastball. I just told myself to execute a good cutter," Hughes said. "You go on a run of not walking guys, you don't want to walk the pitcher." The cutter was perfect, Ross was fooled by the slightly slower pitch, and he swung and missed, keeping Hughes' streak alive.

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