1991 Rewind: Game Sixty-four

BALTIMORE 6, MINNESOTA 5 IN BALTIMORE

Date:  Monday, June 17.

Batting starsAl Newman was 3-for-4.  Kirby Puckett was 3-for-5 with two doubles and a stolen base, his third.  Brian Harper was 2-for-4 with a double.  Kent Hrbek was 2-for-5.   Chili Davis was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fifteenth.

Pitching stars:  Allan Anderson pitched 6.1 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits and two walks and striking out two.  Steve Bedrosian pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Cal Ripken was 2-for-4 with a home run (his fourteenth), a double, a walk, and two runs.  Mike Devereaux was 2-for-4 with a home run (his ninth) and a double.  Randy Milligan was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.  Brady Anderson was 2-for-4 with two runs.

The game:  Each team missed a chance in the first inning.  Puckett hit a two-out double and was stranded, while the Orioles had men on second and third with one out and the bases loaded with two out.  Davis homered in the second to give the Twins a 1-0 lead, but home runs by Devereaux and Ripken put the Orioles up 2-1 in the fourth.

Baltimore lengthened their lead in the fifth.  Anderson singled, went to third on an error, and scored on a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-1.  The Twins tied it in the fifth.  Mike Pagliarulo led off with a double, followed by singles by Newman and Chuck Knoblauch to cut the margin to 3-2.  A pair of ground outs scored another run to make it 3-3.

The Twins took the lead in the seventh when Puckett hit a two-out double and scored on Hrbek's single.  It went to 5-3 in the fifth when Harper singled, pinch-runner Dan Gladden was bunted to second, and Newman delivered a two-out RBI single.

Rick Aguilera came in to pitch the ninth.  He gave up singles to David Segui and Anderson.  A bunt moved the runners to second and third.  Joe Orsulak's sacrifice fly made it 5-4, but also provided the second out.  Ripken was intentionally walked, but Milligan wrecked that strategy with a two-run double that ended the game and the Twins' winning streak.

WP:  Mark Williamson (1-2).  LP:  Aguilera (2-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Shane Mack replaced Gladden in left field, with Pedro Munoz in right.  Knoblauch moved up to the leadoff spot, with Mack batting second.  As shown above, Gladden was used as a pinch-runner and stayed in the game in left field, with Mack moving to right.  With Harper removed, Junior Ortiz came in to catch.  Newman started at shortstop in place of Greg Gagne.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Mike Pagliarulo in the eighth, and Gagne came in to play shortstop, with Newman moving to third base.

Harper raised his average to .347.  Puckett went up to .327.  Munoz was 1-for-3 and was batting .300.

Aguilera gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning to raise his ERA to 2.97.

You may remember that yesterday we questioned using Aguilera in the eighth inning for no apparent reason.  He ended up pitching three innings in that game.  It came back to bite the Twins in this game.  Despite having thrown three innings the day before, Tom Kelly brought Aguilera into this game in the ninth.  He clearly did not have much left, and really should not have been expected to.  Yes, it's easy to criticize after the fact, and yes, times have changed since 1991.  Still, it does not seem very smart to have brought Aguilera into this game.

Kelly clearly loved Al Newman.  To this point in the season he had played in 49 of the Twins' 64 games.  Yes, a fair number of those were when he was used as a defensive replacement, but that's still a lot of playing time for a guy whose OPS is around .500 and whose batting average is around the Mendoza line.  Many of those defensive replacement games were at third base.  I've admitted before that I don't understand defensive stats very well--was Newman clearly superior to Pagliarulo and Scott Leius at third base?  I'm skeptical of that, but I don't have anything to base that on other than memories.

So the winning streak came to an end at fifteen.  The Twins had still won eighteen of twenty, which is obviously pretty good.  They would try to start another winning streak the next day.

Record:  The Twins were 38-26, in first place in the American League West, a half game ahead of Oakland.

Happy Birthday–December 11

Old Hoss Radbourn (1854)
Art Wilson (1885)
Fred Toney (1888)
Swish Nicholson (1914)
Hal Brown (1924)
Lee Maye (1934)
Mike Henneman (1961)
Thomas Howard (1964)
Jay Bell (1965)
Derek Bell (1968)
Frankie Rodriguez (1972)
Joe Blanton (1980)
Dalton Pompey (1992)

In 2014, Dalton Pompey became the first big leaguer ever to have the given first name "Dalton".  In case anyone remembers Dalton Jones (whose birthday was yesterday), his given first name was James.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–December 11

1991 Rewind: Sixty-three

MINNESOTA 4, CLEVELAND 2 IN CLEVELAND (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Sunday, June 16.

Batting stars:  Gene Larkin was 3-for-5 with a double.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5 with a home run (his eighth) and two runs.  Brian Harper was 2-for-5 with a double.

Pitching stars:  Kevin Tapani pitched seven innings, giving up an unearned run on four hits and no walks and striking out three.  Rick Aguilera pitched three innings, giving up one run on three hits and three walks.

Opposition stars:  Greg Swindell pitched eight innings, giving up two runs on six hits and two walks and striking out three.  Mike Aldrete was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Felix Fermin was 2-for-5.

The game:  Harper hit a one-out double in the second and went to third on Larkin's two-out single, but the Twins did not score.  There was no other threat until the fourth, when Fermin led off with a single and scored on a single-plus-error by Aldrete.

In the fifth, Shane Mack led off with a walk, Larkin singled, and Scott Leius reached on a sacrifice bunt/error, loading the bases with none out.  But a strikeout, a foul out, and a fly out followed, keeping the Twins off the board.  The Twins finally broke through in the sixth, however, as Puckett led off with a home run to tie the score 1-1.

The Twins took the lead in the seventh.  Larkin led off with a double and was still on second with two out, but Al Newman came through with an RBI single to make it 2-1 Minnesota.  Aguilera came in to start the eighth, despite the fact that Tapani had retired twelve of the last thirteen batters and had thrown just 82 pitches.  He walked Carlos Baerga and gave up one-out singles to Alex Cole and Fermin to tie the score 2-2.

Not to worry,  In the tenth, Newman drew a one-out walk and Puckett followed with a single, putting men on first and third.  Chili Davis hit a sacrifice fly to put the Twins in front and Harper had an RBI single for an insurance run.  Mark Lewis drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the tenth, but a double play followed and the win was secured.

WP:  Aguilera (2-2).  LP:  Shawn Hillegas (2-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Newman was at second base, replacing Chuck Knoblauch.  He batted second despite having an OBP of .279 and an OPS of .488.  He went 1-for-4 with a walk, a run, and an RBI, so maybe Tom Kelly was right to bat him there.  Or maybe he just got lucky.

Gene Larkin was at first base in place of Kent Hrbek.  That was probably just to give Hrbek a day off, but again, it worked very well.

Pedro Munoz pinch-ran for Harper in the tenth inning.  Munoz stayed in the game in right field, with Mack moving to center and Junior Ortiz coming in to catch and batting in Puckett's spot.  It's interesting that Kelly apparently thought the better defense was with Mack in center and Munoz in right, rather than just substituting Ortiz in Harper's spot and leaving Puckett and Mack in center and right, respectively.

It's also interesting that Kelly removed Tapani after just seven innings and 82 pitches, and even more interesting that he brought in Aguilera for what at best would be a two-inning save.  Aguilera had not pitched since June 11, when he was at the end of a streak in which he had pitched in seven of eight games.  Tapani would not miss a start, so I assume he was not injured.  There may have been a good reason for doing that, but I don't know what it was.

We previously went through Felix Fermin's struggles as a batter.  Minnesota Twins fans, however, could've been forgiven for thinking he was an all-star.  Against the Twins that year, he batted .378/.452/.405.  For his career against the Twins, he batted .344/.393/.439.  Again, his career batting numbers were .259/.305/.303 and in 1991 he batted .262/.307/.302.

The Twins had now won fifteen in a row and eighteen of nineteen.  The first two wins were against Kansas City.  They had swept Baltimore, Cleveland, the Yankees, and Cleveland again.  None of those teams were very good, but it's not easy to win fifteen in a row against anybody.  The winning streak had carried them from sixth place to first place.  They would next travel to Baltimore.  Could they keep the streak going?

Record:  The Twins were 38-25, in first place in the American League West, a half game ahead of Oakland.

Happy Birthday–December 10

Jimmy Johnston (1889)
Rudy Hernandez (1931)
Jaime Jarrin (1935)
Doc Edwards (1936)
Bob Priddy (1939)
Dalton Jones (1943)
Steve Renko (1944)
Paul Assenmacher (1960)
Doug Henry (1963)
Luis Polonia (1963)
Mel Rojas (1966)
Joe Mays (1975)
Dan Wheeler (1977)
Gregorio Petit (1984)
Pedro Florimon (1986)

Pitcher Rudy Hernandez was a member of the old Washington franchise in 1960, but was chosen by the new Washington franchise in the expansion draft in December of 1960.

Jaime Jarrin has been the Dodgers' Spanish-language broadcaster since 1959.  For all the accolades Vin Scully has gotten (and they're deserved), it would be nice if Jarrin got a little more attention.

We would also like to wish a happy birthday to Moss' son.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–December 10

Remodeled basement. Same half-baked taste.