CLEVELAND – The Twins have not altered their stance: They believe Indians infielder Jose Ramirez crossed the line as he celebrated his home run in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader. But with the playoffs at stake, the Twins won’t resort to street justice.
“We are going to go out there and prioritize winning,” manager Paul Molitor said Thursday.
Ramirez took eight steps with his bat then flipped it about 12 feet in the air after connecting on his eighth-inning home run. Molitor, hitting coach Tom Brunansky, bench coach Joe Vavra and catcher Kurt Suzuki were seen yelling at Ramirez as he ran the bases.
Eddie Rosario homered in the top of the ninth inning and yelled at Ramirez as he passed the second baseman during his home run trot. Ricky Nolasco, who gave up the home run, said: “That was horse manure. He’ll get his. Don’t worry.”
It suggests that the Twins have considered retaliation, using the unwritten rules of baseball as a guide. But the last week of the season, while the Twins are trying to snatch a wild-card spot, is not the time.
“It was just one of those things,” Molitor said. “A young player got caught up in the emotion. Maybe he was mad at me for intentionally walking [Jason] Kipnis, I’m not sure. It was over the top, if you ask my opinion.
“We have to win a game [Thursday], and any underlying stories surrounding what happened last night, I hope we are smart enough to not let that be a distraction, ’cause we need to turn the page, go out there and play a good game.’ ”
As it turned out, the Twins got back at Ramirez in a way they probably will find satisfactory. Ramirez committed a ninth-inning error that enabled Trevor Plouffe to reach, and the Twins ended up scoring two unearned runs for a critical 4-2 victory.
Twins General Manager Terry Ryan didn’t have a problem with how his team reacted Wednesday. “What’s the matter with a little fire?” he said. “We have a lot to play for here. I never knew you had to temper your fire to play this game.”
Nolasco’s comment was the only thing Ryan wasn’t pleased about, but he understands how players can get emotional.
“I don’t necessarily agree with what he said in that situation, because it happens,” Ryan said.
Milone on Saturday
Tommy Milone gave the Twins a shot in the arm Monday with an emergency start that lasted 5⅔ innings and led to a victory over the Indians.
Now the Twins have tabbed him to start Saturday against Kansas City, which could be another chance for Milone to steer them to the postseason.
“It’s a lot of fun, to be honest,” Milone said of having a role in a playoff push. “Pitching in a game like this, this late in the season. I think it is more fun than nerve-racking. There’s playoff implications and sometimes you can get out there and try to do a little too much. I think it is a lot of fun. I’ve done it the last few years.”
The lefthander said his arm felt strong when Molitor pulled him after 82 pitches, and he believes his can throw 90 to 100 pitches with no problem Saturday.
• Molitor wasn’t sure when he would be able to use Phil Hughes again. Hughes, who missed his start Monday because of illness, pitched an inning in Game 2 Wednesday but was not sharp. Thursday, he showed he is still not at full strength. “He doesn’t sound great in terms of his physical condition, so he’s still trying to recover,” Molitor said. Hughes remains a candidate to start Sunday, if the Twins are out of the playoff race.
• Second baseman Brian Dozier opened Thursday’s game with a strikeout against Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer. It was Dozier’s 146th strikeout of the season, setting a Twins single-season record. Bobby Darwin struck out 145 times in 1972.