The Minnesota Twins promoted 23-year-old Aaron Hicks to the majors this season because they thought he was ready to perform just like he did Monday night.
Hicks not only leaped high to rob slugger Adam Dunn of what would have been a tying two-run home run, but he also went deep twice at Target Field for the first multi-hit game of his career in a 10-3 victory against the Chicago White Sox.
Have a game, kid! The only way he could have done any better is if the White Sox had mustered another near-homer for him to steal. Too much to ask!
Hicks' catch came in the top of the sixth with the Twins leading 5-3. After reliever Josh Roenicke delivered, Dunn blasted a pitch to straight-away center, about 410 feet from home plate. It appeared to be going over for for Dunn's seventh homer of the season and 413th of his career until Hicks changed the outcome.
Hicks' second homer of the night — another solo shot against left-hander Hector Santiago — came in his next at-bat in the bottom of the sixth. MLB.com quoted Hicks as saying:
"Right after the catch, I just felt loose and amazing, so for the second one to come right after just topped it off," Hicks said. "I've just been battling every day. It's what you have to do in this league. I was able to make some plays today and have fun."
It's definitely not what the Dunn and the White Sox needed. Dunn came in batting .137 with 45 strikeouts, and Chicago's record fell to 15-21, good for last place in the AL Central. Perhaps the home run Dunn almost hit would have been a pick-me-up moment for the White Sox. Hicks' play prevents us from finding out.
A former first-round pick who is among the Twins' best prospects, Hicks has needed a big game to ignite his season after jumping from Class AA. He came in with a .137/.239/.216 batting line, including only five extra-base hits, in 117 plate appearances. While it remains to be seen what kind of career he'll have, Hicks at least can say he's had a career night. Via MLB.com:
"That was a special night," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The home runs were wonderful and that catch was spectacular in a big situation like that to keep the lead. He definitely had an ear-to-ear smile and that was fun for everybody involved, because we've all watched him battle through this thing with the struggles he's gone through. Especially with that curtain call, that's kind of why we do this as coaches."
And that's why the Twins traded two center fielders in an offseason housecleaning — Denard Span and Ben Revere — and gave Hicks the starting job out of spring training.