Torii's 200th HR with Twins keys rally
Veteran outfielder gets bats going with three-run shot
BOSTON -- As Torii Hunter stretched on the field before Thursday's game against the Red Sox, the 39-year-old outfielder joked with manager Paul Molitor that he was too young to be a designated hitter.
"After [the doubleheader Wednesday], I said, 'Let's take it easy on your legs and hit a couple over the wall,'" Molitor said after Thursday's 8-4 victory.
Hunter wound up having to settle for one home run, but his three-run blast in the fifth inning proved to be a game-changing spark in the Twins' win at Fenway Park.
With Minnesota trailing by four runs, Hunter belted an 0-1 knuckleball from Steven Wright into the Green Monster seats to give his team life. Wright had only allowed two hits to that point and gave every indication that the trend would continue.
"That knuckleball, you don't know what you're going to get," Hunter said. "It's like a box of chocolates. Either you're going to be good, or you're going to [struggle]."
"The way the early part of the game went, with one swing get back to within a run, it was a huge lift," Molitor said. "Because we had missed some opportunities with runners in scoring position to get back in the game."
Hunter finished the game with three hits, his 11th multihit game of the season, and improved his batting average with runners in scoring position to .360 on the year.
Not only was Hunter's hit important within the scope of the series, which Minnesota split following the comeback victory, but it also marked an important milestone in his tenured career. It was home run No. 200 as a member of the Twins.
Hunter is one of just eight players in franchise history to reach that mark, and he sits one shy of tying Gary Gaetti for seventh on the team's all-time list.
To do that, the veteran said, would be special.
"Two hundred with the Twins, that's longevity. You got to play a long time to do that," Hunter said. "I'm happy about that, to go out there and have 200 home runs in this uniform. One behind Gaetti. And the Rat was a really good player with the Twins. Just to have a chance to pass him up or tie him would be awesome."