Torii Hunter almost landed in the Twins history books in the second - but ended up running the Twins out of a potentially big inning.

With two outs, the Twins loaded the bases against Royals starter Mark Guthrie. Hunter doubled, then Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier drew walks.

With Kennys Vargas at the plate, Hunter took off from third before Guthrie released his 0-1 pitch. It was an attempted steal of home.

``I just saw a weak link right there,'' Hunter said. ``He has a slow windup, but he sped it up and kind of short-armed the ball and threw it in the dirt but it was right there. If he throws that ball up any kind of way, I'm safe.''

Hunter was tagged on the foot by catcher Salvador Perez for the third out. But wait, the umpires huddled for a minute. Twins manager Paul Molitor was on the field, and felt Guthrie might have released the ball before putting his front foot down, which is illegal.  After a few moments, the umpires ruled Hunter out and the inning over.

It was Molitor who nodded at Torii that he had the option of taking off for home if he wanted to. It didn't matter if Guthrie was on the ropes or not, there was an edge Molitor wanted to exploit there,

``That's kind of my mindset,'' Molitor said. ``It's something that's not very typical, given that the bases were loaded and you have a guy like Kennys up. It didn't hurt us in the long run because the runs weren't up. Sometimes you take a shot.''

The last Twins player to steal home was Clete Thomas on Aug. 3, 2013 against Houston. Hunter stole home on May 4, 2002 against Detroit. But both Thomas' and Hunter's steals were on the back end of a double steal.

The last pure theft of home by a Twin was by Rich Becker, who did it Sept. 27, 1997 at Cleveland.

This can't be written without homage paid to Rod Carew, who stole home five times as a Twin.  The last major leaguer to steal home was the Phillies' Jayson Werth, who did it on May 12, 2009 for the Phillies against the Dodgers.

OTHER STUFF: Is a baserunning blunder the signal for a big inning by the Twins? On Tuesday, Joe Mauer's mistakes on the basepaths in the sixth were forgotten as the club ended up scoring four runs.

On Wednesday, Danny Santana led off the game with a double but then tried to advance to third on a grounder to short and was thrown out. Can't happen. But the Twins still scored three runs in the inning - which held up for nine innings.

Also, Hunter rushed in to try to catch Eric Hosmer's sinking liner in the eighth, had the ball skip under his glove and watched in shame as the ball rolled to the wall while Hosmer raced to third. Hunter said the ball dipped faster than he anticipated. That also can't happen.

Good win for the Twins. But they made mistakes in all three games of this series.


 

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