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By Dan Cook, WCCO Radio
Kansas City Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre likes to tell a story about a conversation he once had with legendary Detroit Tigers play-by-play voice Ernie Harwell.
Lefebvre asked Harwell about his approach to coming to the ballpark day after day when the club he’s covering is playing consistently lousy baseball.
Harwell’s response was something along the lines of, “you go to the ballpark every day, because you’ll probably see something you’ve never seen before.”
After consecutive 90+ loss seasons, I’ve taken that philosophy very much to heart when attending Twins games. In fact, I do my best to specifically look for things I’ve never seen before.
They can be as simple as a rookie getting his first big league base hit or as complicated as a wacky 9-4-5-6-2 scoring play.
Sunday’s 10-0 Twins win over the Mariners provided a few interesting “firsts.”
For Seattle, starter Jeremy Bonderman was making his first big-league start in 975 days.
No, that number’s not a typo.
Twins fans will remember Bonderman from his days in Detroit where he squared off against the Twins 19 times (17 starts). More specifically, they might remember some of Bonderman’s spectacular dugout melt-downs which often included a bevy of colorful metaphors and kicked Gatorade jugs.
Bonderman’s last big-league start came on October 1, 2010. He became a free agent after the 2010 season, failed to sign a big-league contract in 2011 and went on to have Tommy John surgery in April of 2012.
He signed a minor-league free agent deal with the Mariners in January of this year and amassed a 1-2 record with a 4.46 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma, and was promoted to the big-league club in time to make Sunday’s start.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go Jeremy’s way as he pitched only 4.2 innings, surrendering seven runs on nine hits and taking the loss.
Twins manager Ron Gardehire said of Bonderman after the game, “You know, this is a veteran guy and you tip your hat to him. He’s hung in there and been through an awful lot. So to see him back pitching is a special thing. Unfortunately for him, we were swinging the bats pretty good today.”
Fortunately for the clubhouse attendants, no Gatorade jugs were destroyed on Bonderman’s way out of the game.
The other firsts in Sunday’s game came courtesy of Twins left-fielder Chris Herrmann.
Herrmann appeared in seven games for the Twins in 2012, but Sunday was only his second start of 2013 and first of the season in left field.
With the Twins leading 3-0 entering the fourth, Herrmann fell behind Bonderman 1-2 before hammering a pitch to the opposite field for his first career home run.
“It’s a dream come true. You know, everybody’s dream is to hit a home run in the major leagues,” Herrmann said after the game, “I put a good swing on that ball and it went out of the park. I can’t ask for more than that.”
In his next at-bat, Herrmann chased Bonderman from the game with a base-hit up the middle. That hit made Sunday’s contest the first multi-hit game in Herrmann’s career.
Asked about his overall performance in his current stint in the majors he said, “I’m just here. I’m having a good time. Hopefully I’ll be here for a while and just help out the team in any way I can.”
After a 4-1 home stand, the Twins find themselves in third place in the AL Central, only 4.5 games behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers.
So the season’s a long way from being another wash, something that couldn’t have been said as recently as week ago when the club was mired in a 10-game losing streak.
But even if things start to go bad again, there will still be reasons to come out to the ballpark.
Who knows what “firsts” you might see?