SAN DIEGO – Glen Perkins had a question right away for Team USA’s pitching coach when he reported to the World Baseball Classic last March: Do you remember the time I beat you?
“That was pretty cool. That’s Greg Maddux, one of the best of all time,” Perkins said. “I’m not big on pitcher wins, but that’s a good one. I don’t think he remembers it, though.”
It came on June 25, 2008, during the Twins’ last visit to Petco Park before Tuesday. Maddux, in the final season of a Hall of Fame career, was making his 724th career start, while Perkins, in his first season in the Twins rotation, was making his 10th. Perkins pitched five innings and gave up three runs before being lifted for a pinch hitter, but left with a 5-3 lead, thanks in part to a two-run homer by Brendan Harris. The lead held up, and Perkins had his fourth victory of the season.
It’s still a thrill, Perkins said, especially after meeting Maddux at the WBC. But what he really remembers is facing Maddux at the plate.
The first time up, with Brian Buscher on first base, Perkins was called upon to bunt. He tried on the first pitch, and failed.
“It was a bad attempt, and [Maddux] turns to the third baseman and said something to the effect of, ‘Stay back, I’ll handle it, he’s not going to get it down,’ ” Perkins said of the 18-time Gold Glove winner. “Basically, he was saying, ‘That was pathetic.’ But then I ended up getting the bunt down.”
Two innings later, Perkins witnessed the magic that won 355 career games. With two strikes, “he threw me that front-door two-seamer. I jumped out of the way, pulled my arms in, and I was wincing because I thought it was going to hit me,” Perkins said. “And I look at the umpire, and he’s going, ‘Um, strike three.’ Wow.”
Perkins got his revenge, though, a few moments later. “I threw him a two-strike changeup, and he did a whirlybird and struck out,” the Twins closer said.
Perkins later pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning Tuesday, earning his American League-leading 13th save of the season in the Twins’ 5-3 victory over the Padres.
Chris Herrmann intends to challenge Brian Dozier to a race. He’s pretty sure he’s faster.
At solving a Rubik’s Cube, anyway.
Herrmann, who rejoined the Twins on Tuesday, learned how to solve the puzzle in spring training, with Dozier’s help.
“Some people think it’s impossible, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. It’s just memorization of the patterns,” Herrmann said. “I use it to test my focus. I like to see how fast I can do it.”
Now he would like to solve another puzzle: staying productive despite sporadic play.
Herrmann batted only .128 in his first stint with the Twins, but when he was sent to Class AAA Rochester, he banged out five multihit games in nine starts. That’s what regular play can do, he said.
“I don’t think people understand how hard it is to perform when you don’t play every day,” he said. “I do everything I have to do to get myself ready for the game, and hopefully my time in Triple-A is going to help me out this time, I’m going to be more comfortable in the box. My confidence is pretty high right now.”
Even batting .400 with the Red Wings, he was surprised when the Twins summoned him again for this trip to NL parks in San Diego and San Francisco. And when he got the news Sunday, he couldn’t share it with anyone.