1987 Rewind: World Series Game Five


Date:  Thursday, October 22.

Batting stars:  Dan Gladden was 1-for-3 with two walks and a stolen base, scoring once.  Gary Gaetti was 1-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs.  Steve Lombardozzi was 1-for-2 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Bert Blyleven pitched six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts.  Jeff Reardon struck out three in 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up three hits.

Opposition stars:  Danny Cox pitched 7.1 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts.  Ozzie Smith was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, scoring once and driving in one.  Vince Coleman was 1-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases, scoring twice.

The game:  The game was scoreless until the sixth.  Coleman led off with an infield single and Smith followed with a bunt single.  With one out, the two pulled off a double steal, leading to an intentional walk of Dan Driessen.  Willie McGee was caught looking, but Curt Ford singled home two and an error by Greg Gagne allowed a third run to score.  Smith's RBI single in the seventh made it 4-0.  The Twins got back into it in the eighth.  Gladden led off with a single and Gagne followed with a bunt single.  The next two batters flied out, but Gaetti hit a two-run triple to make it 4-2.  The Twins got the tying run on base in the ninth, as a one-out walk to Roy Smalley and a two-out walk to Gladden put men on first and second, but pinch-hitter Don Baylor popped up to short right field to end the game.

Notes:  The Twins used five pinch-hitters in the game:  Gene LarkinAl NewmanSmalleyRandy Bush, and Baylor.  They combined to go 0-for-4 with a walk.  These days, there aren't five position players on the bench...The Twins had knocked Cox around pretty well in game two, but couldn't do much with him in this game...Coleman's two stolen bases gave him six for the series so far...In the non-DH games, Twins pitchers were 0-for-4 with four strikeouts...Reardon pitched 1.2 innings and threw 35 pitches in a game where the Twins were behind.  In fact, they trailed 4-0 when he entered the game.  That was presumably in part to get him some work, as he hadn't pitched since game two and the next day would be an off-day.  It also may show, however, that Tom Kelly was going to do everything he could to give the Twins a chance to come back.

Record:  The Twins trailed the best-of-seven series 3-2.  They would now go home, needing to win two games to take the series.  They would send rookie Les Straker to the mound.  Could he come through for them?  We'll see tomorrow.

5 thoughts on “1987 Rewind: World Series Game Five”

  1. The Twins used five pinch-hitters in the game ... These days, there aren't five position players on the bench...

    I watched some of Game Five of the '85 World Series last night as I was waiting for the Poissonnier to fall asleep. Dick Howser used two pinch runners and four pinch hitters during the game, including sending out Darryl Motley to pinch-hit for (future '87 Tiger) Pat Sheridan, then pulling Motley after he was announced to force Whitey Herzog to make a pitching change to Todd Worrell. Howser then pulled Motley for Jorge Orta.

    That sequence led directly to the Denkinger play. Given how many pitchers are carried on contemporary rosters, I think it would be quite unlikely to see a manager burn a bench bat like that in a World Series game now.

  2. Since we're exploring TK's moves three decades later, what do folks think about intentionally walking Driessen, who eventually scored the winning run? Was that a defensible decision?

    Driessen had been a pretty good player for a long time, but his career was nearly over and he'd managed only a 65 OPS+ in 1987. He'd performed a little better in the NLCS (.724 OPS, but only a .308 OBP). Over the course of his career he had hit right-handeders better (which you'd expect), but by 1987 this was a fairly minimal version of "better" (.649 vs .472 OPS). He was also quite slow, so even though a double play wasn't possible, there would've been time to look a runner back before throwing to first. Finally, Driessen had never hit well against Bert: 38 PA, .200/.263/.314 with 1 2b, 1 HR, and 10 SO.

    1. I think you make a good point. You're in a situation where a single puts you behind 2-0 (probably). The next three batters were Willie McGee, Curt Ford, and Jose Oquendo. None of those guys is exactly a Hall of Famer, but they were all better bets to hit a single at that point than Driessen was. Those guys all had some speed, too--not Vince Coleman speed, obviously, but they were not going to be that easy to double up if they hit a ground ball. Plus, McGee and Oquendo were switch-hitters and Ford batted left-handed, as did Driessen, so you weren't gaining a platoon advantage, either.

      What you can say, of course, is that even if they'd pitched to Driessen and struck out him out, and then struck out McGee (as happened), they'd still have had to face Ford, who hit a two-run single. Would he have done the same thing if he'd come up with men on second and third with two out, rather than the bases loaded and one out? We'll never know.

    2. More importantly, why couldn't the best athlete on the team get Ozzie out on his bunt?

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