Clete Thomas batted .362 in April at Class AAA Rochester. As Aaron Hicks’ big league baptism was getting rough, Thomas looked more and more like a viable option — although he wasn’t on the Twins’ 40-man roster at the time.
But Thomas has had chances in the majors before. Was some of what he was doing with the Red Wings transferrable to the majors?
On Wednesday night, the lefthanded-hitting Thomas, dug in against Phillies lefthander Antonio Bastardo in the eighth inning and smashed a double to right-center that drove in the tying run. Later in the inning, he advanced to third on a bunt single and scored on a wild pitch.
Thomas’ fingerprints were all over the Twins’ 4-3 comeback victory over Philadelphia. He was 4-for-4 with two double, two RBI and a run scored. With Hicks on the disabled list, fans will be seeing a lot of Thomas in center field. On Wednesday, he gave the Twins reasons to believe they will like what they see.
“It’s great,” Thomas said. “It’s been what I was looking for ever since I got up here.”
Oswaldo Arcia was 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Righthander Mike Pelfrey went seven innings in perhaps his best outing of the season. Brian Duensing won in relief for the second night in a row. And Glen Perkins picked up his 15th save.
Thomas batted just .239 after his smoking hot April. He also landed on the disabled list with a strained quad that knocked him out of action for nearly two weeks.
He was still looking for a his swing when the Twins called him up on June 3. He stepped into center field when Hicks landed on the disabled list on Monday.
“Tonight it was starting to come back,” he said. “When I first got here I hit some balls hard … I could have had three or four hits but it was right at somebody. It’s part of the game.”
Philadelphia took a 2-0 lead in the first but the Twins closed to 2-1 when Thomas doubled home Arcia in the fourth. Ben Revere drove in Michael Young in the fifth to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead. Arcia led off the sixth with a single, moved to second on Thomas’ single and eventually scored on a groundout to make it 3-2.
Pelfrey gave up three runs over seven innings — close enough for the Twins to rally.
Arcia led off the eighth with a double to right-center and scored on Thomas’ double to the same area — his fourth hit of the night. Arcia and Thomas had seven of the Twins’ 12 hits Wednesday.
Thomas went to third when Eduardo Escobar tried to sacrifice bunt but reached first without a throw for a single.
Two batters later, new Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus bounced one to the backstop.
“I was going right away,” said Thomas, who slid in safely to cap an active night.
“A big, big night,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Thomas. “A huge night for him and our ballclub.’’