All's well that ends well.
Talk about a see-saw game. The Twins scored four runs in the second, capped by Brian Dozier's two-run double to go up 4-0. Duff-man was cruising, and it looked like it might be an easy win. Then a two-out infield single was followed by three straight walks (I have no idea if C. B. Bucknor and His Amazing Flexible Strikezone was a factor) and a real single and it was 4-3. Cotts got out of that inning, but in the sixth Fien gave up a two-run homer to put the White Sox ahead and it looked like the Twins were going to let one get away.
Then in the seventh, with Dick Bremer saying the Twins needed a jolt, Migue Sano jolted a three-two pitch over the fence to tie it up. In the eighth, Gladden had no more said something like "This is where in the past the White Sox would fall apart, but they've really cleaned up their fielding" when they made two errors, leading to three runs and an 8-5 lead. Perkins came in to pitch the ninth and made it interesting, giving up three singles (one of the infield variety) and a run, but eventually got the last out and the Twins had a win.
I'm not as down on Torii Hunter as some around here. We make fun of the idea of his veteranny veteran leadership, but I'll concede that it's reasonable to think that younger players, especially outfielders such as Hicks, Rosario, and Buxton, might learn something from him. Given that we didn't really expect to be competing for a playoff spot this year, I can understand why they signed him.
But last night, judging from Gladden's play-by-play, there were two balls in the sixth inning that a major league outfielder should be expected to catch that Hunter didn't get to. One was the Abreu double shortly before Garcia's homer, which cost the Twins at least one run, and the other was the LaRoche double, which did not. In fact, Gladden came as close as a Twins broadcaster is ever going to come to criticizing Hunter for not being able to get to those balls.
I don't expect the Twins to take Hunter out of the starting lineup at this point in the season, although I would certainly "rest" him every chance I got (and it's interesting that Molitor pinch-ran for him last night). But the interesting question is, what happens next year? With Rosario, Hicks, and Buxton, and Kepler not far off, they really have no use for Torii Hunter. On the other hand, the Twins have spent the entire season, including a lot of their marketing campaign, telling us what a great player Torii Hunter still is. What happens if he wants to come back in 2016?
Now, Hunter may take the Twins off the hook. He may look at his dwindling numbers and decide to retire before he drops below the Mendoza line. But what if he doesn't? If Torii Hunter decides to play next year, will Terry Ryan give him a hearty handshake and wish him well in his efforts to find employment? Or will he decide that the Twins simply cannot afford to let him go, both from an on-field and a marketing standpoint? The answer to that question will tell us a lot about the mind-set of the Twins' front office.
Just one more thing. Can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact that we're discussing a game that was played in September, and it was a meaningful game for the Twins? This is the first time since 2010 that this has happened. I have no idea how the rest of the season will play out, but no matter what happens from here, it's been a really fun year, and I just wanted to make sure we recognize that fact.
The Twins go for their third straight win tonight. Tommy Milone, who hasn't gotten blown out but also hasn't actually pitched well for a while, goes against Carlos Rodon, who pitched pretty well in the month of August. Unfortunately for him, it's now September. Did I say I have no idea how the rest of the season will play out? Well, I lied. Of course I no how it'll play out. The Twins will have a season-ending thirty-three game winning streak! We'll just have to settle for 99-63!