It was a day of firsts for Aaron Hicks and the Minnesota Twins as the young outfielder clubbed his first career homerun; however not much else went right for the Twins as they dropped their second straight game to the red-hot Cleveland Indians 7-3. Besides Hicks’ homerun, the other first for the Twins this season was the performance of Kevin Correia, who for the first time failed to go at least seven innings or give up fewer than three earned runs. It was certainly Correia’s worst start of the season; but with little run support, his outing really didn’t make much of a difference in the outcome of the game.
Hicks’ first homerun is something to celebrate for the youngster after his tumultuous start to his big-league career this season. Many fans were clamoring for him to be demoted, and some still are, but the Twins remained patient with the youngster and their patience is beginning to pay off. Hicks’ average certainly isn’t eye-popping, but it has steadily progressed after his disastrous 2-48 slump that he began his career with. On April 20, Hicks’ batting average and confidence bottomed out as he finished play with a .042 average and has since seen his average rise to .143 following today’s performance.
Over the eleven games since Hicks’ saw his average bottom out, Hicks has only gone hitless in three games. While this may not be all that impressive, it certainly is baby steps in the progression that the Twins hope Hicks can continue to make. The one accomplishment that Hicks must now strive for is having a multi-hit game, which he still is in search of despite his overall stats of a .143 batting average, one HR, nine RBI, 10 hits, 12 runs, 13 walks and a discouraging 29 strikeouts. Hicks certainly needs to cut down on his strikeouts, which he has yet to do, but he is beginning to show more patience at the plate and is seeing more pitches. This is a sign of the game slowing down for Hicks and him being able to understand what kind of hitting approach he needs to take when he steps up to the plate for every at-bat.
Much of this improvement can be credited to Tom Brunansky, the Twins’ hitting instructor, and all the work he has put in working with Hicks. The Twins easily could have sent Hicks back to the minors and called up someone else to fill in centerfield. However, the Twins felt that Hicks would benefit from working with Brunansky for an extended period of time and they were certainly right. Hicks’ progress has been noticeable, in my opinion, and it will be interesting to see how well he can make adjustments as the season goes on and after he faces an opponent a second and third time.
While the game’s outcome certainly wasn’t what the Twins had hoped for, they will have another shot to salvage a game out of this series when they take on the Indians in the series finale from Cleveland tomorrow afternoon. The importance of this game cannot be underestimated, as the Twins need all the momentum they can get before they leave for the last stop on their road trip in Boston.