Chris Gimenez tried to play it cool. He tried to walk nonchalantly toward first base without calling attention to himself. Just a guy out for a stroll at the end of a game that some Rockies thought was over.
Gimenez was the apparent final out of the game, a 7-3 Twins loss on Tuesday, having struck out when first base umpire David Rackley signaled that he had gone too far with his checked swing. But the ball had short-hopped Rockies catcher Tony Wolters, bouncing in the dirt just before his catcher’s mitt, meaning Gimenez had to be tagged out, or thrown out at first base, for the strikeout to be official.
Gimenez noticed. Wolters didn’t.
“I just started slowly walking. I’m looking at [first baseman Ian] Desmond, and he’s not saying it, but he’s [on first base] like, ‘Hey, hey, throw me the ball,’ “ Gimenez said afterward. “So I just started slow jogging, and as soon as I saw [Wolters] flip the ball to McGee, I just took off running. They never threw down! What were they thinking?”
The umpires were aware of Colorado’s faux pax, however, and Gimenez was safe, extending the game by at least one more batter.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that one,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s something A.J. [Pierzynski] would have done.”
Actually, it’s something Pierzynski did, famously, in Game 2 of the 2005 AL Championship Series. During his bottom of the ninth at-bat, Pierzynski noticed that strike three grazed the dirt, and as the Angels ran off the field, Pierzynski hesitated, then ran to first base.
That play triggered a game-winning rally for Pierzynski’s White Sox. Gimenez had no such luck. Rockies closer Greg Holland came in since it was now officially a save situation, and Brian Dozier popped up to end the game, making the strikeout-that-wasn’t a minor footnote, not a game-changer.
But it gave Gimenez something to laugh about.
“When I got to first, Desmond [said], ‘That was so salty a veteran move right there,’ “ Gimenez said. “I guarantee they’ll never do that again.”