The first one came nearly 14 years ago, under a Metrodome roof that no longer exists. The most recent one occurred eight seasons ago, on this same Target Field dirt.
Hunter Wendelstedt ejecting Ron Gardenhire was once almost an annual tradition in Minnesota, compete with postgame insults and fragile truces. So when they tangled on Saturday, with Gardenhire charging out of the visitors’ dugout, throwing his hands up in exasperation until Wendelstedt provided the classic you’re-outta-here toss, it must have sparked plenty of nostalgia for longtime Gardy fans.
It was Gardenhire’s 79th career ejection and sixth by Wendelstedt, including a memorable one during the 2010 playoffs. This time, Gardenhire was upset about Wendelstedt’s strike zone and whether Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull was receiving the proper benefit of it. But it wasn’t Gardenhire doing the loudest complaining — it was his deputy, bench coach (and former Twins coach) Steve Liddle.
“I think Ron was sticking up for Steve on that one,” Liddle said after stepping in to guide the Tigers to their first-game victory. “I was yelling at [Wendelstedt] and I don’t think Gardy liked the answer I got back.”
Gardenhire’s on-and-off feud with the veteran umpire started in 2005 and seemed to reignite every time Wendelstedt was assigned to a Twins game. “He’s got an attitude,” Gardenhire said after a 2009 ejection. “He’s got a smart mouth.”
Wendelstedt responded by telling reporters that Gardenhire didn’t understand the rules. “I would challenge Gardenhire to sit down and watch the replay, because he was wrong,” he said a decade ago. “If he wants to learn what a balk is, he can come down in January to my umpire school and we’ll teach him.”
Managers often get into conflicts with umpires by serving as stand-ins for irate players, and Liddle said he made a discovery during their argument on Saturday. “He’s going to protect the players, and apparently he’s going to protect me, too,” Liddle said. “I don’t know if I’m going to have to pay the fine on that one or not. That’s up for discussion.”
Willians Astudillo is healthy enough to return, the Twins decided after Saturday’s doubleheader. The catcher/utilityman will be activated for Sunday’s game, the team announced late Saturday. To make room, reliever Fernando Romero, who owns a 5.63 ERA in seven major league games this year, joined two other pitchers headed back to Class AAA Rochester.
Tyler Duffey is going back, too, after facing three batters Saturday and striking out all three. Duffey’s one-day pass as the Twins’ designated 26th man expired once the doubleheader did, and he’s headed back to Rochester for the second time this year.
Meanwhile, the Twins placed Martin Perez on the paternity list and activated Kohl Stewart to start the second game of the doubleheader. Stewart, too, was sent right back to Rochester after the game, despite earning a win. Perez is planning to make his scheduled start on Sunday.
Rosario hits at home
Eddie Rosario reached out for a fastball on the outside corner in the third inning during Saturday’s first game and yanked the pitch into right field. He hustled to first base and showed no particular satisfaction in the two-out single — but he couldn’t be blamed if he had.
Rosario, who leads the American League in home runs, hadn’t collected a hit at Target Field since slugging a first-inning home run on April 26 — a stretch of 29 consecutive hitless at-bats.
Rosario finished that game 1-for-5, but he singled three times in the second game, causing fans seated in the outfield to chant “Ed-die, Ed-die.”
“Last homestand, I felt bad” about going 1-for-25 in seven games, Rosario said. “I come home and make sure I start hitting again.”
• Gardenhire wasn’t the day’s only ejection. Miguel Cabrera was tossed during the first inning of Game 2 by Chad Whitson for complaining from the dugout about a pitch called a strike during his at-bat.
• Miguel Sano went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Rochester’s 1-0 loss to Durham on Saturday, Sano’s Class AAA debut as he continues his rehab assignment from a lacerated right leg.