Torii Hunter did not like the strike-two call by home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger, and let him know. He was wrong; it was a good pitch. Torii Hunter definitely did not like strike three, which was well off the plate outside. “I thought the last pitch he called a strike was revenge,” Hunter said, and let Ripperger know all over again. He was ejected. Then things got fun.
Hunter had a better meltdown than we’ve seen in a while after his eighth-inning strikeout in last night’s 7-2 loss to the Royals. After he was quickly run, manager Paul Molitor settled in to argue with Ripperger (he was tossed too), when Hunter decided he wasn’t quite done.
“I thought they were cheering that I was arguing for a change,” Molitor said. “When I turned around, I saw the jersey coming off and then I realized that Torii had not reached the end of his … whatever you want to call it.”
Hunter removed and flung onto the field, in turn, his elbow guard, his shin guard, both batting gloves, and finally his jersey.
“We have bad days, all of us. As hitters, pitchers, even umpires have bad days and he had one,” Hunter said of Ripperger. “All you need to do is just look at the video and decide for yourself.”
There was more to it than balls and strikes, as there usually is. After an unexpected first-place start to the season, buoyed by a 20-7 May, the Twins are 3-7 in June and ceded the division lead to the Royals after being swept at home. In the series, Hunter went 0-for-10 with three strikeouts. “You know what he’s trying to do,” Ned Yost said. “He’s trying to fire everybody up and get ‘em going.”
Will it work? Tune in this weekend, after Torii Hunter gets dressed.