1987 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-six


Date:  Friday, September 4.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5 with a home run, his twenty-third.  Randy Bush was 1-for-3 with a walk.  Billy Beane was 1-for-1 with an RBI.

Pitching stars:  Frank Viola pitched eight innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts.  Juan Berenguer pitched four shutout innings, giving up five hits and no walks with one strikeout.

Opposition stars:  Greg Brock was 3-for-5 with two doubles and a walk.  Paul Molitor was 2-for-6 with a double.  Len Barker pitched eight innings, giving up one run on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts.

The game:  There were no runs, and very few hits, until the seventh, when Puckett led off with a home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the ninth, but Puckett grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning.  In the bottom of the ninth, Rob Deer led off with a ground rule double and scored on Dale Sveum's one-out single to tie it 1-1.  In the bottom of the twelfth, Dan Plesac, who came in with one out in the eleventh, hit Gary Gaetti with a pitch.  Tom Nieto, back with the team as a September call-up, pinch-hit for Roy Smalley and singled, putting men on first and second.  Tom Brunansky hit into a fielder's choice, but an error the fielder didn't really choose to make resulted in bases loaded and none out.  A strikeout and a popup made it look like the threat might be for naught, but Beane, who was a September call-up and was in his first major league at-bat of the season, lined a single to center to win the game for the Twins.

Of note:  Dan Gladden remained out of the lineup, with Bush again in right and Brunansky in left.  Bush was in the leadoff spot...Roy Smalley was the DH, with Don Baylor used as a pinch-hitter in the tenth...Puckett raised his average to .329...With the expanded rosters, Tom Kelly used three pinch-hitters (BaylorGene Larkin, and Nieto) and three pinch-runners (Mark DavidsonAl Newman, and Chris Pittaro).

Record:  The Twins were 72-64, in first place by three games over Oakland, who lost to Boston 5-2.

Player profile:  When people criticize sabremetrics and "moneyball" as something for stat nerds, they never mention that Billy Beane was a major league player, appearing in 148 games over six seasons.  An outfielder, he was drafted by the Mets with the second pick of the 1980 draft.  He reached AA by age twenty and clearly wasn't ready for it, but by his third year there, in 1984, he hit .281/.352/.490 with twenty home runs.  He got a September call-up that season but was in AAA in 1985, batting .284/.341/.480 with 19 homers and 34 doubles.  You'd think a guy with those AAA numbers might get a shot at the big-leagues, but the Mets had George Foster, Mookie Wilson, and Darryl Strawberry in their outfield, so Beane had to settle for another September call-up.  That off-season, he was traded to the Twins with Joe Klink and Bill Latham for Pat Crosby and Tim Teufel.  The Twins had Brunansky and Puckett in the outfield, but one would think Beane might have been a good platoon partner for Bush.  As it turned out, though, of his 183 at-bats, only 88 came against left-handed pitchers.  He wasn't terrible against them, batting .261, but that was as good as it would get for him.  He was back in AAA in 1987, getting just another September call-up, and was traded to Detroit before the 1988 campaign for Balvino Galvez.  He started the season with the Tigers but rarely played, getting only six at-bats in April before being sent down.  He was a free agent after the season and signed with Oakland.  He was with the team most of the season but again rarely played, getting only 79 at-bats in 39 games.  That brought an end to his playing career, and you don't need me to tell you about his post-playing career.  His career major league numbers are .219/.246/.296.  He had fine AAA seasons from 1985-87, though, and one wonders what he might have done if he'd gotten a real chance in the majors.  I don't think he'd have been a star or anything, but I don't think he'd have been the worst outfielder in the league, either.