Lots of extra stuff to note after the Twins’ wild 8-5 loss to the Yankees before the biggest Target Field crowd since 2011:
— The Twins hadn’t blown a five-run lead all season. The Yankees hadn’t overcome a five-run deficit since 2012. Glen Perkins had never given up two homers in a game as a reliever. Alex Rodriguez hadn’t hit three in a game since 2010. So much for history.
Paul Molitor had a good view of the craziness, having been ejected, after a Gardenhire-intensity confrontation, in the sixth inning by home plate ump Jeff Nelson.
“It’s a little bit of a shock there,” he said of Rodriguez’s game-tying home run on the the ninth inning’s first pitch. “You’re ready to throw your first pitch and all of a sudden it’s a tie game. It was a slider, and [Perkins] didn’t get it where he wanted to. Just seemed like it was mostly location giving him trouble tonight. You see the glove and it would go somewhere else, and they’d whack it.”
— Lost in the ARod show and the Yankees’ comeback were a couple of decent pitching performances from Tommy Milone and Trevor May, who kept the game close. Milone had a one-hitter after six innings, the only mistake being a fastball that Rodriguez crushed into the upper deck in the fourth inning, a blast estimated at 452 feet. I don’t have a measuring stick, but it did feel good,” Rodriguez said. “I know for us, it kind of got us back in the game.”
Actually, his second one was the one that really closed the gap, a seventh-inning blow that landed in the Yankees bullpen. That made it 5-3, and seemed to shake up Milone. Mark Teixeira followed with a double to the center field wall, and Milone’s night was done. His numbers were good — four hits over six-plus innings, with one walk and four strikeouts — but the outcome spoiled everything. “I started getting the ball up in the zone and just couldn’t get it down,” Milone said. “With a five-run lead, you’re looking to attack the zone, throw strikes, keep guys off the base paths. It just didn’t work out.”
The first homer was an inside fastball, “and it seemed like he was sitting on it,” Milone said. “And then we went away, and I just left it up. He extended his hands and barreled up another one.”
May, meanwhile, pitched a scoreless eighth, and while he gave up a two-out single to Jacoby Ellsbury, then threw away a pickoff try that moved him into scoring position, the starter-turned-setup-man struck out Brian McCann to preserve the Twins’ one-run lead.
— Torii Hunter hadn’t seen Kirby Puckett Jr. in a few years, but they had a nice chat before Saturday’s game. Thusly inspired, Hunter then remembered the kid’s father in a way the Hall of Famer would have appreciated: He hit a home run.
“I know Torii — he can do anything he wants to do,” Puckett said after Hunter proved it by passing the former Twins great for sixth on the franchise’s career home-run list, his 208th homer as a Twin now one more than Puckett’s career total of 207.
The younger Puckett is now 22 and a student at Augsburg College, he said. He’s been close to Hunter since he was a child, though the last time he saw him face-to-face was when Hunter was with the Angels. So it was a nice coincidence that he was in attendance to watch Hunter pass his father.
“It’s pretty cool that it was Torii,” Puckett said. “I wouldn’t want to be anyone else but him.”
— He was a little reluctant to talk about it, but it seemed that Molitor believed he might have been baited by Nelson into the ejection. When Aaron Hicks was called out on a check swing to end the sixth inning with the bases loaded, he dropped his bat and snarled at Nelson as he walked away. Molitor and hitting coach Tom Brunansky yelled about the call, too, but didn’t leave the dugout. At least, not at first.
“I thought it was close enough for him to ask for help on. I don’t think it was something he had a very clear look at, not if he’s concentrating on the pitch,” Molitor said. “But he thought he saw enough to call it a swing, and I just voiced my opinion that I thought it was too close for him to make that call. That’s why they have the appeal process.”
The umpire, though, claimed he couldn’t hear what Molitor was saying.
“It was puzzling in that I was trying to make a case from the top of the dugout that I thought he should have asked for help, and he told me he couldn’t hear me about five times,” the manager said. “I went out to tell him. He said, ‘You can’t argue that,’ and then he threw me out.”
It seemed like a quick trigger, and Molitor was livid, going nose-to-nose with the umpire once he’d been tossed. Afterward, he seemed to wonder whether he had been set up. “I don’t know if his intent was to try to get me out there so he could throw me out,” Molitor said. “You’d have to ask him.”