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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Chris Herrmann sat on the bench watching his Minnesota Twins climb back into the game against the Chicago White Sox.
The 25-year-old backup catcher was so caught up in the action that the possibility of pinch-hitting in the ninth inning hadn’t even occurred to him. When Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told him to get ready, Herrmann had to scramble a bit before delivering the highlight of his young career.
Herrmann’s pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth scored pinch-runner Doug Bernier and lifted the Twins to a 4-3 victory over the White Sox on Thursday night.
“With some young guys you have to tell them, ‘You might have to hit here. Get a bat in your hand and at least look like you’re ready to hit,’” Gardenhire said. “That was the case tonight when I told Herrmann, ‘Would you please stand up and do something because I might use you.’”
The Twins trailed 3-2 heading into the eighth, but Joe Mauer doubled and scored on a base hit from Justin Morneau to tie it. Herrmann came through against Ramon Troncoso (1-4) in the ninth to complete the comeback. The youngster got a Gatorade bath while doing the postgame interview and was able to laugh about being a little ill prepared after everything turned out OK.
“I was just kind of sitting there watching the game and I didn’t have any of my stuff ready which is my fault,” he 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 ready to go.”
Trevor Plouffe hit a solo homer and Mike Pelfrey gave up three runs and struck out four in 6 1-3 innings for the Twins.
Paul Konerko had two hits and an RBI, and Andre Rienzo gave up two runs — one earned — on four hits with two strikeouts in six innings for the White Sox, who lost their 10th straight on the road.
Jared Burton (2-6) pitched the ninth for the win.
“It’s a moment I’m going to never forget and hopefully there will be more to come,” Herrmann said.
Plouffe led off the eighth with a single to left and Troncoso walked Chris Colabello. Clete Thomas’s bunt failed when catcher Josh Phegley threw Plouffe out at third, but Herrmann squeezed a base hit just past a diving Konerko at first to win it.
Gardenhire said he thought Pelfrey could be running out of gas as his innings total has climbed over 100 in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, and he got off to a sluggish start that appeared to support that theory.
Pelfrey gave up RBI singles to Adam Dunn and Konerko to fall behind 2-0 in the first. But Pelfrey was able to grind into the seventh and keep the Twins in the game, working much quicker on the mound this time around after being prodded by the Twins’ coaching staff to speed things up for most of the season.
Plouffe got the Twins on the board in the fifth with a home run into the bullpen in center field and Josh Willingham’s single scored Brian Dozier to cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth.
With White Sox manager Robin Ventura trying to groom Nate Jones as the team’s setup man of the future, he sent the right-hander out there in the eighth to face lefties Morneau and Mauer rather than going to left-hander Donnie Veal. Mauer, who had five hits in a loss to the Indians on Wednesday, ripped a double to center field and just beat a strong throw home from right fielder Avisail Garcia to tie it 3-3.
White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham left the game in the fourth inning with a strained right quadriceps. Beckham, who leads the team with a .310 average, went 1 for 2 with a single and a run scored before being pulled for what the team called precautionary reasons.
“Going down the first base line in the second at-bat he probably felt it more than he has,” Ventura said. “If you can’t run hard without feeling it, you probably shouldn’t play.”
NOTES: White Sox OF Dayan Viciedo missed his sixth straight game with a sore left thumb. Ventura said Viciedo was making progress. … Twins GM Terry Ryan said C/OF Ryan Doumit (head) has been improving and could be activated as soon as Friday. … RHP Nick Blackburn, who has spent all season at Triple-A Rochester, will have surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee on Friday, Ryan said. … RHP Kevin Correia (8-8, 4.59) is scheduled to pitch for the Twins on Friday against White Sox LHP Jose Quintana (6-4, 3.70).
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