Doug Bernier spent 12 seasons toiling away in the minor leagues. He debuted briefly in the majors in 2008, but otherwise wondered if the long bus rides and the 1,054 games in the minors was worth it anymore.
At 33 years old, Bernier still did not have a major league hit. He had just one start before Tuesday.
Both of those changed Monday in Anaheim, as Bernier notched his first career big league hit and RBI with a double to left field in the top of the fourth inning. It proved to be a big run, too, as the Twins hung on for a 4-3 win over the Angels.
“I’m kind of overwhelmed right now,” Bernier said after the game. “I’m so excited. It was nice I was able to get an RBI with it. I think I’m still on a high from the last couple innings. They were intense. It was pretty awesome.”
Bernier got the start Monday, the second of his career — and the first since 2008 when he played for the Colorado Rockies. On Monday, Bernier was the Twins’ starting shortstop and batted second in the lineup. He finished 1-for-5 at the plate with a pair of strikeouts, but his first big league hit was a crucial one for Minnesota.
The Twins recalled Bernier from Triple-A Rochester on Sunday, and he played in Sunday’s game as a late replacement in the eighth inning. He drew a walk in his lone plate appearance that game.
Before his call-up, Bernier batted .295 with three homers and 41 RBI in 92 games for Rochester this season — his first year in the Twins’ organization. He began his pro career in 2002 after signing with the Rockies as an amateur free agent.
Making Monday’s game even more special for Bernier was the fact that he was able to get his first hit close to his hometown. He grew up in Santa Maria, Calif., about three hours northwest of Anaheim.
Perkins works overtime: Twins closer Glen Perkins is rarely asked to pitch more than one inning. On Monday, though, manager Ron Gardenhire called upon Perkins to pitch an extra third of an inning.
Perkins entered Monday’s game with two outs in the eighth inning when he replaced Casey Fien. Perkins gave up an RBI single to the first batter he faced in the inning but got some help from his defense to escape the eighth.
He made things interesting again in the ninth. After retiring the first batter of the inning, Perkins gave up back-to-back singles to J.B. Shuck and Mike Trout to bring up Albert Pujols. Perkins won that battle as he struck out Pujols on a called third strike for the second out of the ninth.
The next batter, Howie Kendrick, went down swinging on three pitches to seal the game and give Perkins his first multi-inning save of the year.
It was just the second time in Perkins’ career that he pitched more than one inning to earn a save. The only other time was last year against Boston in which he pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three to save a 5-0 Twins victory.
Thomas has big game: Left fielder Clete Thomas has seen more playing time in the outfield since Josh Willingham went down with a knee injury.
Thomas made the most of it on Monday. He hit what at the time was a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the fourth inning that gave the Twins a 3-2 lead.
Perhaps his biggest contribution of the night, though, came in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs and two runners on base, Thomas took away at least extra bases — and possibly a home run — from the Angels’ Chris Iannetta to end the inning. Thomas timed his jump perfectly and robbed Iannetta at the wall to preserve Minnesota’s 4-3 lead.
“I got a jump on it and knew I had a beat on it as long as I didn’t run out of room,” Thomas said. “It was a game saver. Instead of going down by two, we won.”
FOX Sports North’s Jamie Hersch contributed to this report.