1969 Rewind: Game Sixty-six


Date:  Monday, June 23.

Batting star:  Tony Oliva was 4-for-4 with a home run (his eighth) and two doubles.

Pitching stars:  Jerry Crider pitched three shutout innings, giving up four hits and a walk.  Al Worthington pitched a perfect inning, striking out two.

Opposition stars:  Rick Reichardt was 3-for-4.  Joe Azcue was 3-for-4.  Jim Spencer was 3-for-4.  Aurelio Rodriguez was 2-for-4.  Sandy Alomar was 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs.  George Brunet pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks and striking out six.  Ken Tatum pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

The game:  The Twins opened the game with a Cesar Tovar single and a Tony Oliva double, putting men on second and third with none out.  The Twins could only score once, however, on a Harmon Killebrew sacrifice fly.  The Angels made them pay, scoring twice in the bottom of the first.  Alomar led off the first with an inside-the-park home run, tying the score, and Rodriguez delivered a two-out RBI single to put the Angels up 2-1.

They went up 3-1 in the second.  Azcue led off with a single, was bunted to second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on Alomar's single.  The Twins cut the margin to 3-2 in the third as Oliva hit a two-out solo home run.

In the bottom of the third the Angels got consecutive one-out singles by Rodriguez, Spencer, and Azcue to go up 4-2.  They got one more in the fourth as Bill Voss singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on a Reichardt single.

And that was it for the scoring.  The Twins did not even mount much in the way of a threat after that.  The best they could do was get a man to second base in the eighth and the ninth, both times with two out.

WP:  Brunet (3-6).  LP:  Dick Woodson (4-3).  S:  Tatum (2).

Notes:  The Twins had six hits.  Oliva had four of them.  Over his last three games he was 10-for-14 with six doubles and a home run.  He raised his average from .279 to .302, his slugging average from .402 to .453, and his OPS from .757 to .826.

Rod Carew, who had been removed early from the second game of yesterday's doubleheader, did not start in this game, although he did pinch-hit.  Frank Quilici started at second base.  Tovar was in center field, replacing Ted Uhlaender.  Bob Allison started in left, Rick Renick at third, and George Mitterwald behind the plate.

Bob Miller, who had started the second game of the previous day's doubleheader and pitched 3.1 innings, threw 2.2 innings of relief in this game.  Crider, who had pitched 2.2 innings in the first game of the previous day's doubleheader, threw three innings in this game.

Ken Tatum was in his rookie year, which was by far the best year of his career.  He came up in late May and by this point had just become their closer.  He went 7-2, 1.36, 1.04 WHIP with 22 saves, finishing fourth in Rookie of the Year voting (behind Lou Piniella, Mike Nagy, and Carlos May).  He had another solid season in 1970, going 7-4, 2.94, 1.06 WHIP with 17 saves, but he also had seven blown saves and lost the closer job in late July.  He was traded to Boston after that season in a deal involving Tony Conigliaro.  He was not their closer, and was a pretty marginal pitcher in two seasons with the Red Sox, going 2-6, 4.03, 1.51 WHIP with 13 saves.  He was in AAA almost all of 1972, was not very good there, and was traded to St. Louis with Reggie Smith for Bernie Carbo and Rick Wise.  He did not play in the majors for the Cardinals, and was dealt to the White Sox in late April.  He again had a poor season and his playing career was over.

Some say the turning point in Tatum's career was when he hit Paul Blair in the face with a pitch on May 31, 1970.  The story, which he himself confirms, is that he was afraid to pitch over the inner half of the plate after that.  His career marks are 16-12, 2.93, 1.23 WHIP, 52 saves.  For about a year, though, he was as good a relief pitcher as any in the league.

Record:  The Twins were 36-30, in second place in the American League West, a half-game behind Oakland.