In one of the most epic meltdowns in recent memory, Twins right-fielder Torii Hunter removed his batting equipment and part of his uniform after getting thrown out in the eighth inning of Minnesota’s 7-2 home loss to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
Hunter, who turns 40 in July, disagreed with a called third strike by home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger and voiced his displeasure. Hunter thought the previous pitch was a ball as well, but it was called a strike to make it a 2-2 count.
One pitcher later, Hunter was rung up. Then he lost it, throwing his equipment and uniform onto the field.
We’ve seen some epic ejections over the years, but this one has to rank near the top.
“I never removed any pieces of equipment necessarily,” former MLB All-Star and current ESPN MLB analyst Aaron Boone said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “But I had a couple of epic meltdowns, yes, in the vein of what Torii went through last night.”
Still, one must wonder why Hunter took it as far as he did. The Twins, one of baseball’s biggest surprises this season, were 32-21 last week but have lost five of six – all at home. Minnesota (33-26) now trails Kansas City (34-23) by two games in AL Central.
Perhaps Hunter was trying to rally his teammates?
“I don’t know,” Boone said. “Because I watched Torii last night and I went, ‘Oh, come on, Torii. Don’t go that far with it.’ But at the same time, I’ve been there and I lost my mind and done things that, especially looking back now, I’m not very proud of. But I guess it’s just kind of one of those things that happens in the heat of battle. It’s not always that pitch that led up to it. There may be something else or a series of events. Who knows what led to that epic meltdown?”
Andrew Bogusch, who was was filling in as co-host for Brandon Tierney, is skeptical of the notion that an ejection fires up teammates. Does that kind of emotion suddenly make a team – a team of professionals, no less – care that much more about winning?
Maybe, maybe not.
“I found it funny in watching the video last night, (just) watching the reaction of the teammates,” Boone said. “There’s just kind of this outwardly (disposition) like nothing’s happening. Nobody really looks at each other. No one’s trying to crack a smile or anything. That would be the thing I would probably be going through on the bench there – not bursting into laughter.”
Then again, the Twins haven’t had much to laugh about lately. They’ve scored just seven runs in their last five games and been held to two runs or fewer in seven of their last 10.
Minnesota, which is off Thursday, has a five-game road trip upcoming against the Rangers (31-28) and Cardinals (39-21). Tommy Milone (2-1, 4.55 ERA) takes the hill for the Twins on Friday.