They say you can't go home again. Mark Hamburger has managed to do that and, in the process, has rewarded Minnesota's faith in him.
The Twins farmhand carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning Friday night as Triple-A Rochester cruised to an 11-4 victory at Indianapolis.
Hamburger (3-2) faced two batters over the minimum through the sixth before allowing a leadoff single to Andrew Lambo. Brent Morel and Matt Hague also singled to load the bases with none out, but the 27-year-old right-hander got Tony Sanchez to hit into a forceout. An error by shortstop Pedro Florimon allowed two runs to score and Blake Davis added an RBI groundout.
"I just grooved a couple of fastballs and the guys took advantage of it," Hamburger said. "Just made a couple of mistake pitches and they took advantage of it."
Hamburger was charged with three runs -- two earned -- on three hits and three walks with a strikeout over 6 1/3 innings.
"I wasn't really locating too well and our fielders made some absolutely insane plays," he said. "Dives in the outfield, balls against the wall, it was a great fielding effort. My fastball wasn't locating well at all; I was just trying to keep it down. The main thing I was doing was not worrying about the outcome and just enjoying the moment."
Enjoying the moment has been something of a theme this year for Hamburger. Originally signed by the Twins after an open tryout in June 2007, the Mesabi Range Community College product spent last season with the St. Paul Saints of the independent American Association. Pitching there gave the Twins a chance to keep an eye on Hamburger.
"I played indy ball last year and the Twins gave me the idea, 'Hey, we've always liked you'," he said. "They said they would watch me throughout the St. Paul season, and I pitched pretty well. They gave me a call and said, 'Hey, would you like to come back and sign with the team?' There was no question, I'm a Minnesotan at heart. To be back with the Minnesota Twins is all I could ask for."
Hamburger opened the year in the Eastern League with Double-A New Britain, where he was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA and one save in eight appearances, including one start. He's got a 3.52 ERA in nine games, including six starts, with the Red Wings and is limiting International League foes to a .229 batting average.
"It's been a great year for me," he said. "This is the best year I've ever had. Mentally, this has been the best year I've had, just to be able to not take things as seriously and just enjoy the game. Just take things as they come and not letting it get you down.
"Physically, I've never felt as comfortable on the mound. Definitely the best year I've had, maybe not numbers-wise, but personally, I feel as this is exactly where I want to be."
Stephen Pryor took over for Hamburger and recorded the final two outs in the seventh. Logan Darnell allowed a run on one hit while retiring two batters and Michael Tonkin was perfect over the final 1 1/3 frames.
Doug Bernier and Aaron Hicks homered and drove in two runs apiece, while Josmil Pinto went 2-for-3 with three RBIs for the Red Wings.