MINNESOTA 6, KANSAS CITY 5 IN KANSAS CITY
Date: Saturday, August 24.
Batting stars: Denny Hocking was 3-for-3 with three doubles and a walk. David Ortiz was 3-for-5. Cristian Guzman was 2-for-4 with a double.
Pitching stars: LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one. J. C. Romero pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one. Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Joe Randa was 3-for-5 with a double. Mike Sweeney was 3-for-5. Carlos Beltran was 2-for-5 with a double.
The game: Ortiz singled home a run in the first to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. In the second, Luis Alicea had a two-run single and another run scored on a ground out to put the Royals up 3-1. Bobby Kielty hit a two-run homer in the third to tie it 3-3. The Twins went into the lead in the fourth. Hocking led off with a double and scored on a Guzman double. Ortiz then singled home a run to make it 5-3 Twins. Beltran doubled home a run in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to 5-4. Guzman's sacrifice fly in the sixth to give the Twins 6-4. The Royals put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth, getting a double from Aaron Guiel and singled from Beltran and Sweeney to cut the margin to 6-5, but left the tying run on third. The Royals again got the tying run to third in the eighth, getting a walk from Luis Ordaz and a single from Sweeney, but Raul Ibanez grounded out to end the threat. With two out in the ninth, Chuck Knoblauch and Kit Pellow singled and Ordaz walked to load the bases, but Guardado struck out Guiel to end the game.
WP: Brad Radke (6-3). LP: Paul Byrd (14-10). S: Guardado (36).
Notes: Ortiz was at first base, with Doug Mientkiewicz out of the lineup. Matthew LeCroy was the DH, going 0-for-3 with a walk.
Hocking was at second base, with Luis Rivas out of the lineup.
Torii Hunter was 0-for-5, dropping his average to .298. It was the first time he had been below .300 since June 27. He would briefly get back above .300, but would fall under that mark for good by the end of August.
A. J. Pierzynski was 1-for-4 and was batting .302.
Radke struggled through 5.2 innings, giving up five runs on eleven hits and a walk and striking out two.
Hawkins lowered his ERA to 2.25.
Romero's ERA fell to 1.55.
Guardado's ERA was 2.72.
Byrd was the starter for Kansas City. He struck out six in six innings, but gave up six runs on nine hits and three walks.
This was the last year of infielder Luis Alicea's career. It was a better one than you might remember, covering thirteen seasons. He was drafted by St. Louis in the first round in 1986. He made his major league debut in late April of 1988, taking over the second base job after Tom Herr was traded. He fielded the position well, but did not hit and went back to AAA in late July, coming back as a September call-up. He would not get back to the majors until 1991. He struggled through a mediocre year in AAA in 1989 and had an injury-plagued 1990. He was batting .393 in 121 at-bats in Louisville when he was called up in 1991. He was with the Cardinals the rest of the season but was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter, getting just eleven games at second base as Joe Torre played Jose Oquendo and Geronimo Pena at second. He was a semi-regular second baseman for the Cardinals from 1992-1994, sharing time with Pena, and did fairly well. His best year there was the last one, when he batted .278/.373/.459. He was traded to Boston for the 1995 season and had a solid year for them, but was put on waivers at the end of 1996 spring training as the Red Sox preferred to go with Jeff Frye. St. Louis claimed him and put him back at second, where he again did a solid job. He went to Anaheim for 1997, was with Texas from 1998-2000, and was with the Royals from 2001-2002. His first couple of years and his last one drive his career averages down, but for most of his career he would generally bat about .270, have an OBP in the .360s, and hit 15-20 doubles. That's not going to get you on the all-star team, but it's a solid contribution. He was a major and minor league coach for a while, and at last report operated the Crush It Baseball Academy in West Palm Beach.
Record: The Twins were 78-53, in first place, leading Chicago by seventeen games.