Twins 4, Detroit 2

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2006 - 5:16 AM

A stupendous catch by the Twins center fielder was the defensive gem behind their ace's no-hit bid against the Tigers.

Torii Hunter doesn't rate his catches based on degree of difficulty, he said. He rates them based on pain.

So when it came time to rank the diving catch he made Sunday on the All-Time Hunter Highlight Reel, the Twins center fielder rattled off the body parts that ached: shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, thigh.

"And I was dizzy after rolling twice," Hunter said.

The spectacular fifth-inning catch preserved Johan Santana's no-hit bid, which ended in the seventh, but the Twins still savored a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers at the Metrodome.

Santana was at his best and so was Hunter, as the Twins used the momentum gained from Saturday's ninth-inning comeback to take two of three from the Tigers and close a 4-3 homestand.

After getting waxed 33-1 over three games in Detroit one week earlier, the Twins certainly needed the boost.

For four innings, Santana seemed determined to provide it all by himself. He retired the first 12 Detroit hitters in order, including eight by strikeout.

But Magglio Ordonez led off the fifth inning with a drive toward the left-center field gap.

With his team leading 3-0 and Santana still perfect, Hunter was shading Ordonez to right field.

How far did he run? Well, Twins first base coach Jerry White, who oversees the team's outfield instruction, said the ball actually should have been caught by left fielder Shannon Stewart.

"That was Shannon's ball," White said. "When Torii moves [toward right-center], Shannon should move, too."

For Hunter, getting there was all instinct at first.

"When he hit it, I couldn't even see it," he said. "I just knew he hit it to a certain spot, so I just ran to it. Then I picked it up while I was running. Because you can't see in the Dome."

Hunter dove and made a backhanded catch, with his momentum causing him to roll over his shoulder twice. He collected himself on the warning track, as an announced crowd of 20,548 gave him a standing ovation.

"That's why he's got five Gold Gloves," Stewart said. "That's why he played half a season last year, and they still gave it to him."

Using his Pain-o-Meter, Hunter said this one was one of his top three all time for him, including the minors.

Santana (3-3) walked the next batter, Marcus Thames, but the Tigers didn't get their first hit until Ivan Rodriguez led off the seventh with a ground-ball single to left.

Ordonez followed with a two-run homer, and Detroit had two more hits that inning before Santana recorded the final two outs with runners on second and third.

Later, Santana insisted he wasn't thinking about his no-hit bid when Hunter made the catch. He was simply appreciating the play itself.

"I was about to go out and give him a high-five, or a hug or something," Santana said. "It was unbelievable."

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