As Twins season ends, player’s bonus is the only drama

Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning on Wednesday. Jim Mone/AP

The game didn’t mean anything at Target Field this afternoon. The Twins were never in a pennant race this year and this was the last game of the year for the team in Minnesota.

But it meant something to Phil Hughes. If Hughes got one man out in the ninth inning, he’d earn another $500,000 from the Twins under the terms of his contract, an incentive to stay healthy during the year and contribute to the squad.

Hughes entered the game with 15 wins against 10 losses, a tremendous record for a bad ballclub.

But still there was drama.

The Twins led Arizona, 2-to-1 after Hughes ripped through the Arizona lineup 1-2-3 in the eighth. He had thrown 96 pitches, not many by late-in-the-year standards.

Would he come out for the ninth? The Twins regular closer is injured and perhaps if the game meant something, the game would be turned over to the closer. But there’s that $500,000 bonus sitting there for Hughes.

Manager Ron Gardenhire, who may be in the last days of his job, had a decision to make.

And then the rain came and the game has been delayed.

Typically, this is a no-brainer for a manager. Another pitcher would take over.

“You’re talking about a third of an inning, why not reward him?” Dan Gladden, a Twins broadcaster, said.

With or without the extra cash, Hughes would be alright. He makes $8 million a year.

We’re betting the Twins give him the money anyway and he donates it.

Update 3:56 p.m. – Hughes did not return after the rain delay.