DETROIT – Even when Jordan Schafer thought he was making a good play Wednesday, it turned out badly.
With Alex Avila on second base and Jose Iglesias on first in the fifth inning, Schafer dove for a looping line drive by Anthony Gose, but the ball hit the turf in front of his glove. Iglesias was fooled by the play, however, and stopped, giving Schafer an easy force out at second.
Trouble is, Schafer didn’t know it. As the Twins center fielder scrambled to his feet, he noticed Avila rounding third base.
“I knew there was a guy on first, but I didn’t see him stop,” Schafer said. “But I saw the guy at third, so I tried to get the ball back in as quick as I could.”
Ignoring Brian Dozier calling for the ball at second base, Schafer threw toward the plate, where cutoff man Joe Mauer was circling over as Avila held at third.
“The ball was wet, and my hand was wet, so it kind of took off on me,” Schafer said of his off-course throw that Mauer finally grabbed near the pitcher’s mound — too late to get Iglesias at second.
That missed opportunity cost the Twins two runs, because Ian Kinsler followed with a fly ball that should have been the third out. Instead, it was a sacrifice fly that scored Avila, and Miguel Cabrera then lined a two-out hit to center, scoring Iglesias.
That wasn’t the only misplay in the outfield, either, though the rain that fell all morning likely had something to do with balls that skidded past Schafer and Torii Hunter.
“It looks like they’re getting a little bit fooled by trajectory and distance on some of those plays,” manager Paul Molitor said of his outfielders. “We turned a couple of doubles into triples by not playing the balls correctly with angles.”
One of them, a hot smash by Gose that knocked Ricky Nolasco from the game in the fourth inning “was actually skeeting on the wet ground,” Hunter said, using slang for hydroplaning. “I reached for it and tried to knock it down, but I just got a glove on it.”
Did Schafer notice that same effect? “Ooo, yeah, wow,” he said. A single by Kinsler “didn’t bounce up. I don’t know if it was the rain, but it stayed low and skipped right by me.”
Hunter’s play was ruled a triple. Schafer’s was scored a single, with a two-base error charged to him.
Mind on other things
Hunter hadn’t heard from Major League Baseball on Wednesday about the possibility of a fine for his public complaints about umpire Joe West two days earlier. But his manager was feeling a little guilty about the moment.
After Monday’s 4-0 loss ended with a checked swing by Hunter that West said was a strike, the veteran outfielder said, “Joe West needs to do his job. And he didn’t do it well.”
Molitor said he wasn’t bothered by Hunter’s comments. But he was nagged by the feeling he should have been more visible on that final play.
“I think in reacting, you have to protect your players. I probably could have gotten out there just to make sure Torii didn’t get involved in something he shouldn’t have,” said Molitor, who watched from the dugout stairs as Hunter bellowed at West. “But we learn from this. That’s part of the process.”
Actually, Molitor said he was focused on other things, trying to stay ahead of the game, and the controversial call took him by surprise. “At the end of the game, you’re sitting there, you’re watching, you’re hoping Torii can extend the inning. Hoping to get the tying run up there, and if [Kennys] Vargas gets [on], I’ve got to pinch run for him. All those kind of things,” the rookie manager said. “And not really in your mix is, well, what are you going to do if [there’s a bad] checked-swing call? No offense to Joe, but it hadn’t crossed my mind that that was something I had to consider.”
Twins minor league righthander B.J. Hermsen underwent elbow reconstruction surgery in Minneapolis on Wednesday, General Manager Terry Ryan said. And lefthander Lewis Thorpe is headed to Minneapolis to undergo his own Tommy John surgery “sometime in April,” Ryan said. Both pitchers will miss the entire season.