CLEVELAND — A trio of extras after the Twins started their weeklong road trip with another win:
— When Joe Mauer tried to stretch a single into a double in the first inning, the Indians successfully challenged umpire Adrian Johnson’s safe call. Twins manager Paul Molitor doesn’t dispute that Mauer’s foot came off the base, allowing him to be tagged out — but Molitor isn’t so sure the challenge should have been allowed. He argued as much at the time, but was told by crew chief Bill Miller that the play could be challenged.
The issue: Once the pitcher stands on the rubber and a batter enters the batter’s box for the next play, the previous one can no longer be challenged. And Molitor is certain he saw Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer toe the rubber before manager Terry Francona asked for a replay review.
“I finally saw [Bauer] get on the rubber, and I was looking at Trevor [Plouffe, the Twins’ next batter]. He was standing outside the box, but I thought he had gotten in the box,” Molitor said. “I think probably the crew didn’t think the pitcher didn’t engage with the rubber, which I know wasn’t true, because I had seen that.”
The crux of the matter is whether the pitcher has to be on the rubber “and” the batter has to be in the batter’s box, when the pitcher’s team is the one challenging. “I would think the challenging team would be more responsible for their end in doing that,” said Molitor, who plans to research the rule more closely. “But if it has to be [both], then they made the right call.”
— Torii Hunter came up a triple short of a cycle, the 19th time in his career he’s done that. He’s also lacked a home run for a cycle three times, and once — two years ago, in this same ballpark — had a double, triple and homer, but missed the single. That game, a 9-4 Tigers win on July 6, must have been frustrating. Hunter had the first three hits by the sixth inning, but one-hopped a ball back to the pitcher in the eighth inning, then was two batters away from another chance in the ninth.
Had Hunter reached the cycle this time, it would have come tinged with some irony, since the only reason he had a single was that he was thrown out trying to stretch his third-inning hit into a double. The defense gave me a single? Would have been an odd footnote.
And here’s another: The last Twins player to hit for the cycle? Michael Cuddyer in 2009. The most recent player in Major League Baseball to hit for the cycle? Also Michael Cuddyer — the former Twin accomplished the feat for a second time last Aug. 17 for the Rockies. He’s one of 12 players in the last 50 years to collect two cycles in his career.
— Michael Tonkin pitched for the second straight day, and he repeated something else, too: The second-year reliever gave up a home run to the first batter he faced. On Thursday, it was Oakland’s Ike Davis; on Friday, Michael Brantley turned on a 1-0 fastball and knocked it over the center field fence. But Tonkin retired the next three Indians, and J.R. Graham pitched an uneventful ninth. Tonkin has given up four career home runs, but three of them led off an inning.