MINNEAPOLIS — Chris Herrmann, Doug Bernier and Chris Colabello had played in a combined 78 major league games before Thursday’s series opener against the White Sox. Sure enough, the Twins players with the least big league experience all contributed to the winning run in the 4-3 victory over Chicago.
Colabello drew a one-out walk and Bernier came into the game to pinch run for him when he advanced to second on a bunt by Clete Thomas. With one out and runners on first and second, Herrmann delivered the winning hit when his single to right field off reliever Ramon Troncoso scored Bernier from second.
Just how the Twins drew things up at the beginning of the year.
“You’ve got to be ready off the bench,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Just because you’re not starting a game, there’s a possibility of being used. We have to pick and choose. We only have three guys (on the bench) and one of them’s our backup catcher right now. … But they kind of have to watch the game and pay attention to where they’re going to go in.”
All three players spent much of the year at Triple-A Rochester. Herrmann got a taste of the majors last year when he played seven games for the Twins, and Thursday was his seventh career pinch-hit appearance in the majors.
It also turned out to be one of his biggest hits of his young career, too, although he wasn’t quite ready for it in the dugout.
“I told Herrmann, ‘Would you please stand up and do something, because I might use you.’ And he says, ‘I’m ready,'” Gardenhire said. “But he doesn’t have gloves, he’s not got anything on. That’s what you deal with. But he got a hit. That’s a good thing.”
A sheepish Herrmann admitted after the game that he probably should have been ready if his manager needed him but he got too caught up in watching the game.
“I was just kind of sitting there watching the game and I didn’t have any of my stuff ready which is my fault,” Herrmann said. “I should have been more ready to go, but I guess it worked out as planned. Next time I won’t do that. I’ll be ready with batting gloves and my helmet and everything ready to go.”
After the game, Herrmann was greeted by a Gatorade shower courtesy of a few of his teammates — who distracted him with a shaving cream pie before dumping the Gatorade on him from behind. It was Herrmann’s 12th RBI in 28 games with the Twins this year, and it was the first to yield that type of postgame celebration.
“He’s been a consistent hitter all year,” Bernier said of Herrmann. “He came up with a big hit. It was a fun game.”
Herrmann knows that his time with the Twins might be limited, at least for right now. Catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit will soon be activated from the 7-day concussion disabled list, perhaps as soon as Friday. There’s a chance Herrmann might be the odd man out in that scenario, but Minnesota could also opt to keep three catchers and option someone else to Rochester.
Perhaps Thursday’s key pinch hit might help Herrmann make a case to stay up with the Twins for a bit longer.
“I’m not really worrying about that,” Herrmann said. “That’s all the coaches’ decision. I’m just here trying to do my best. I’m trying to help the team win any way possible. I’m not going to sit here and worry about that stuff. If they decide to send me to Triple-A, that’s fine. I’ll just have to wait for my next opportunity up here.”