CHICAGO — Tuesday night, there was a brawl in the center field bleachers between a couple of guys without shirts. On Wednesday, a trespasser ran around the outfield waving at fans and encouraging them to join him, until security guards handcuffed him and led him away.
And every time he walked to the plate, fielded a ball or even just walked to his position, Josh Donaldson heard a chorus of boos from fans still irritated by his "no sticky stuff" gesture after homering off Lucas Giolito.
That last one? Probably a mistake.
Donaldson broke a 1-1 tie with a two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning, and the Twins salvaged a split of the four-game series with their biggest AL Central rival by taking the finale, 7-2. It ended a 2-5 road trip with a few smiles, at least.
Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco each homered for the second straight night, all without the background soundtrack of boos, and Michael Pineda rebounded from an awful previous start against the same opponent two weeks ago by pitching five strong innings, allowing just one run.
But it was Donaldson's response to his persistent hecklers — there were some chants, too, and plenty of shouted insults — that entertained the other Twins. Three straight games, Donaldson ignored the taunting and drove in runs.
"I love the energy the fans bring here. The antics, the streakers, the fights in the stands, that's what we want. That's part of a sporting event," Kepler said with an amused smirk. "But booing Josh — I think he feeds off that. He loves it."
Whatever motivation you need, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is all for it. Donaldson, after all, is batting .288 with nine homers on the road this year, but just .210 with six homers at home.
"It helps him do his job and focus. The atmosphere changes when you go on the road, with people letting you hear it; I think he welcomes it," Baldelli said. "He's happy to be back in full stadiums with fans that care, even if they're laying into him."
So when he came up in the fifth, with Polanco and Nelson Cruz on base and two outs, Baldelli may have sensed what was coming. Donaldson took a slider in the dirt, but when the same pitch came moments later in the strike zone, he didn't miss.
"He takes the extra satisfaction from that, and has fun with it, too," Baldelli said.
The game was particularly fun for Kepler, who had two hits including a foul-pole-scraping home run off a Dylan Cease curveball. "That's the first ball I've ever hit in my career anywhere off the foul pole," Kepler said of his 12th home run, "so that was special to me."
And it was fun for Polanco, who hit what looked like a game-deciding home run on Tuesday night, then hit another home run that turned a close game into an easy victory on Wednesday. That one capped what looked like a quiet inning off reliever Codi Heuer, who recorded two quick outs but then allowed an Andrelton Simmons single and walked Kepler.
When Heuer got behind 3-0 to Polanco, he was in trouble, and when he left a sinker too far up, Polanco didn't miss, smacking it into the bullpen, where Tyler Duffey, warming up on the mound, caught it.
"Every player likes those situations, you know?" Polanco said. "But I just try to be simple."