A trio of extras from a memorable night at Target Field:
Torii Hunter said his seventh-inning home run Friday was one he’ll remember for awhile. It was the 15th of his season and 346th of his career, but more importantly, it was his 207th as a Twin. That’s the same number that Kirby Puckett hit during his Hall of Fame career in Minnesota. “It’s special. This is a guy, early in my career, he gave me a lot,” the 40-year-old outfielder said. “To tie him, it’s a special memory.”
He’ll also remember that it wasn’t exactly a sure-thing home run. Hunter hit an 0-1 fastball from Branden Pinder, and while he knew he hit it hard, he didn’t think he hit it high. “It was a line drive. I didn’t know if it was going to hit the top of the wall or what,” Hunter said, so he ran full-speed around first base. “I was thankful when it went out.”
Big night for Kurt Suzuki, and that’s a relief for the Twins. The catcher went 1-for-12 on this week’s West Coast trip, and he’s batting .220 in July. But Suzuki singled home Eddie Rosario twice on Friday, the first time this season that he’s had more than one run-producing hit in a game.
“He’s a grinder. To get the first hit up the middle was big,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Little by little, he’s feeling better.”
Suzuki wasn’t the only contributor, of course. The Twins racked up nine extra-base hits, tying their season high, and for the first time ever at Target Field, scored 10 runs against the Yankees. Still, the Twins are only 5-16 in their new ballpark against the Yankees, including 0-2 during the 2010 playoffs.
How does a guy lead the major leagues in hits allowed, yet load the bases only twice in his first 20 starts? Hard to figure, but Phil Hughes, who has given up an MLB-leading 148 hits this year (though only 12 walks), somehow managed it.
By comparison, Mike Pelfrey has pitched with the bases loaded 16 times this season, and Kyle Gibson 15. Even Ervin Santana, who joined the team three weeks ago, has faced three bases-loaded jams.
Hughes, though, had only one this season before Friday’s seventh inning, when he struck out the first two batters, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, on changeups, then gave up back-to-back-to-back singles to Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew. It looked like Molitor was going to pull him — Brian Duensing was warmed up and ready — but Molitor stuck with him, mostly because Hughes had been cruising and owned a 5-0 lead at the time.
“It was nice to be able to finish that inning,” Hughes said, and he did it with one pitch: Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to left on the first pitch Hughes threw.
Since we’re on the topic, what happened the first time Hughes loaded the bases, back on May 4 against Oakland?
“It was a grand slam, right?” Hughes said. Yep, Stephen Vogt hit it. “Cool.”