Wetmore: 5 thoughts, Hicks' routes, Tonkin optioned, and Sid Hartman
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Twins missed a chance to sweep the Mariners when Felix Hernandez carved through their lineup for 8 innings Sunday. With the loss, the Twins fell back to .500 (21-21).
This column presents 5 thoughts from Sunday's game.
As always, feel free to ask any questions or make any observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. How do umpires feel when replay overturns their call?
Twins shortstop Danny Santana rolled a ball to first base and Felix Hernandez was slow to cover the bag. Santana is the fastest Twins player on the active roster, and his speed forced the issue on this play.
First baseman Justin Smoak flipped the ball to Hernandez, who touched the bag just as Santana crossed. It was difficult to tell (from the pressbox and in real time on TV) who had touched the base first.
First base umpire Toby Basner called Santana out, the Twins challenged the play, and slow motion replays overturned the call. Santana scored later that inning on Trevor Plouffe's 2-RBI single with two outs.
I wonder if there's a certain element of contrition for being shown to have been wrong, or if an umpire like Basner feels good in knowing there is a system in place to help make his calls better.
2. Aaron Hicks had an interesting day at the ballpark.
Two routes he took to balls in the outfield in the fifth inning made observers scratch their heads. Robinson Cano hit a ball to the warning track in center field. Hicks turned around and ran straight back, tracking the ball over his shoulder. As he got to the warning track dirt, he planted and sharply turned to his left (toward left-center field). The ball landed at least 20 feet from the point to where he had been running. The wind was headed in that direction, but it was by no means a stiff breeze.
Three batters later, Hicks appeared to misread a fly ball off the bat of Kyle Seager. With his speed, Hicks made up for the route and made the catch.
3. His day at the plate was a bit better than his day in the field.
Batting left-handed against Felix Hernandez, Hicks walked, scored and singled. That's a productive day at the plate, and is surprising when you consider who he was facing and how bad he's been batting left-handed this season and last.
He made a mental error on the bases, though. In the seventh inning, Hicks singled Jason Kubel to second base with one out. Danny Santana tapped a ball to second baseman Robinson Cano, who fielded it within reach of the baseline between first and second. If Hicks stopped in his tracks, it would have been difficult for Cano to run and tag him and still get an out on the speedy Santana at first base. Instead, Hicks sprinted toward second, Cano made the tag and got the relay to first base in time to get Santana and end the inning.
Hicks was 4-for-8 with two walks against the Mariners.
It's fair to wonder if Hicks needed more minor league seasoning before being thrust into the starting role in center field at the beginning of last season.
4. The Twins wanted some roster flexibility before hitting the road for a west coast National League trip. They recalled Chris Herrmann after Sunday's game and optioned Michael Tonkin to Triple-A Rochester.
Herrmann didn't hit much in his first stint with the Twins (.190/.128/.319 in 42 plate appearances). He can play corner outfield, catcher and probably first base.
Tonkin's minor league track record suggests he'll be a quality reliever for the Twins someday. By no means should 12 1/3 Major League innings this season take away from that, but it must be noted he's been bad this year.
After consistently averaging more than a strikeout per inning as he was promoted through the minors, Tonkin struck out 9 in 12 1/3 innings with the Twins this season. More concerning is the fact that he walked 6 and surrendered 15 hits.
5. One of a kind.
"The Vikings had already named their press room after me."