January 11, 2021

Phil Hughes, we hardly knew ye

Pitcher Phil Hughes, who won a World Series with the New York Yankees and pitched with distinction for the Twins, has stepped away from the game after announcing his retirement this month.

And if you had your doubts about his retirement, just check his twitter feed, including photo that appears to show him shirtless, wearing a Panama hat. It seems the retirement is well underway.

Hughes spent 12 seasons in major league baseball, his first seven with the Yanks, followed by five more with the Twins and 16 games with the San Diego Padres. He won a World Series with the Bombers in 2009, then won 18 games in 2010, although he had a slightly elevated ERA of 4.19.

Statistically, his best season as a pitcher came in 2014 with the Twins. He went 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA, the second best mark of his career, and he set a single-season major league record with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11.63. In simpler terms, he walked only 16 batters in 209-plus innings with 186 strikeouts. If only the Twins had had a few Phil Hughes that season because the team was lousy, losing 92 games.

Still, when they handed the ball to Hughes, the Twins looked pretty good.

Some pitching lines from that season:

-May 21: Twins 2, Padres 0

Hughes scattered seven hits over seven innings with no walks and seven strikeouts.

-June 11: Twins 7, Blue Jays 2

Hughes again scattered seven hits over seven innings with no runs, no walks and nine strikeouts.

-July 8: Twins 2, Mariners 0

Hughes pitched shutout baseball for seven-plus innings, allowing eights hits while striking out eight.

Injuries eventually shortened the 34-year-old’s career. Lest we forget, he also made one All-Star appearance with the Yankees in 2010.

Wanna catch up with the former Twins pitcher? He has an active and funny twitter feed.

Extra innings…

-It’s been a slow offseason for the Twins so far, but they did sign former Angels reliever Hansel Robles to a one-year deal worth $2 million. Robles had a down year in 2020, so the Twins will be trying to recapture his 2019 form. He was 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA and had 23 saves with 75 strikeouts in 72-plus innings pitched.

January 4, 2021

The day the Twins beat Phil Niekro and the Indians. It meant much more than that, of course

Hall of Fame pitcher and knuckleballer, Phil Niekro, is no longer with us, joining a long and sad list of Hall of Fame baseball players who died in 2020. I guess you could say his death, to quote a Bloomberg news headline, “capped a hellish 2020.” Niekro, who spent most of his career in the... Continue Reading »

December 29, 2020

81-75 with 6 games to go and it all fell apart for the Twins in ’84

After I became a Twins fan (yes, there was a beginning), I suffered through a 102-loss season in 1982, another down year in ’83 and then, incredibly it seemed, the Twins began to show signs of life in 1984. They were helped by a young nucleus of rising stars, including Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Frank... Continue Reading »

December 20, 2020

Byron Buxton and Ty Cobb share a birthday. What’s your reaction?

There I was, reading my Baseball-Reference.com newsletter, when I came across a most startling discovery: the Twins’ Byron Buxton and Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer, Ty Cobb, were both born on Dec. 18. In the great cosmic order of things, I know this means very little, but I must admit that I reacted with disappointment... Continue Reading »

December 16, 2020

Six degrees of separation with Bert, the White Sox and 2 HRs (or something like that, anyway)

I hope you read Strib columnist Patrick Reusse’s recent blog post/column about Dick Allen, the fearsome slugger, best known for his years with the Philadelphia Phillies, who recently passed away. Reusse not only touched on his contributions as a player, but also about a unique game against the Twins. Very sad to hear of Dick... Continue Reading »

December 7, 2020

Ol’ Ike didn’t bring much luck to Camilo on Opening Day

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when presidents still did such things, threw out the first pitch or attended a number of Washington Senators games during his time in office. And pitcher Camilo Pascual often was on the bump for an Opening Day start, according to Baseball Almanac and Baseball-Reference.com. Pascual, who won 174 games over 18... Continue Reading »

November 30, 2020

The Hall of Fame case for Tony Oliva, one more time

Former Twins right fielder and designated hitter, Tony Oliva, was a good player and, at times, great when one considers his rookie season and three batting titles. But a devastating knee injury hampered his career, meaning he didn’t get the playing time to consistently produce the numbers needed for enshrinement. Oliva retired with a career... Continue Reading »

November 22, 2020

The year the Twins lost 2 games to start the season (yes, this is a thing)

The Minnesota Twins of the 1960s were a good team, some might even call them a great one. And this much was certain: they had left their sad-sack ways behind in Washington, D.C., and now won with regularity after their move to the upper Midwest. Although the team won only 70 games in its inaugural... Continue Reading »

November 15, 2020

The day Tony Oliva was beaned in the forehead

Tony Oliva, who spent his entire 15-season career with the Twins, had one of the best rookie campaigns of all time, and was the clear choice for AL Rookie of the Year in 1964, capturing 95 percent of the vote, according to Baseball-Reference.com. The numbers are incredible: 217 hits, 109 runs, 94 RBI, 43 doubles,... Continue Reading »

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Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.