MINNESOTA 9, KANSAS CITY 2 IN KANSAS CITY
Date: Friday, August 23.
Batting stars: A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. Corey Koskie was 2-for-4 with a walk. Cristian Guzman was 2-for-4.
Pitching stars: Rick Reed pitched seven innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits and striking out five. Mike Jackson struck out two in two perfect innings.
Opposition stars: Raul Ibanez was 2-for-4 with a double. Michael Tucker was 1-for-4 with a triple. Scott Mullen pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit.
The game: The Twins scored five in the second to put the game out of reach early. With one out, Doug Mientkiewicz and Bobby Kielty singled and Pierzynski had an RBI double to put the Twins on the board. A ground out made it 2-0. The Twins then got consecutive two-out RBI singles from Guzman, Koskie, and David Ortiz to take a 5-0 lead. The Royals got both of their runs in the fourth, when Ibanez doubled and scored on a Tucker triple. Tucker later scored on an error. Pierzynski singled home a run in the fifth to make it 6-2. In the sixth, Jacque Jones singled and scored on a single-plus-error by Guzman. Koskie singled to move Guzman to third and a double play brought him home to round out the scoring. Kansas City got a one-out single in the sixth and did not get a baserunner after that.
WP: Reed (12-6). LP: Jeff Suppan (8-14). S: None.
Notes: Torii Hunter was 0-for-3 to make his average .301.
Pierzynski raised his average to .302.
Guzman had a twenty-one game hitting streak going. Starting with the first of August, he was 32-for-89, a .360 batting average. It was nearly all singles, with just four doubles and two home runs. He had ten RBIs and had drawn two walks during the streak.
In his last three starts, Reed had pitched 23 innings and giving up just four runs (three earned) on 17 hits and 1 walk with 16 strikeouts. He won all three games and had an ERA of 1.57.
Suppan pitched five innings, giving up nine runs on ten hits and five walks with no strikeouts. It was the fourth consecutive poor start for Suppan, who gave up 25 runs in 22.1 innings for an ERA of 10.07. He lost all four.
This was the best year of left-handed reliever Scott Mullen's career. He was drafted by Kansas City in the seventh round in 1996. He was a starting pitcher until 2000, when he was switched to relief. He had a fine season in Omaha that year and was called up at the end of August. He pitched very well in relief for the Royals until his last game of the season, when he gave up four runs in an inning and raised his ERA from 0.96 to 4.35 (10.1 innings). He did not have a good year in Omaha in 2001 but was called up to Kansas City in mid-August anyway. Again, he did well until the end, giving up three runs in one inning to raise his ERA from 2.00 to 4.50 (10 innings). He started 2002 in Omaha again, but this time was brought up in mid-June and pitched well through the end of the season (although he again had a poor last game). He went 4-5, 3.15, 1.33 WHIP. It apparently didn't impress anyone, though, as he was back in Omaha at the start of 2003 and, after a brief call-up in May, was traded to the Dodgers. He made on appearance for them, on August 3, and never appeared in the majors again. He kept pitching, though. He went to Japan for 2004, came back to the United States for 2005, but made just one AAA appearance before going back to Japan for the balance of the season, and was in AAA for Atlanta in 2006. His major league record is 4-5, 4.66, 1.64 WHIP in 75 games (67.2 innings). If you took out the last game of each of his big league seasons, his numbers would be 4-4, 3.06 in 71 games (61.2 innings). I don't know that it would've made a difference in his career--he walked too many and lacked a strikeout pitch, walking 35 and striking out 35 in his career. It would sure make his career numbers look better, though. He was a high school baseball coach at his alma matter in Beaufort, South Carolina for two seasons, winning a regional coach of the year both times. He resigned in 2013, however, and no information regarding what Scott Mullen has been doing since then was readily available.
Record: The Twins were 77-53, in first place, leading Chicago by seventeen games.