MINNESOTA 7, OAKLAND 6 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Sunday, July 6.
Batting stars: Harmon Killebrew was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer (his twenty-third) and scored twice. Cesar Tovar was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. Tony Oliva was 2-for-4 with a double. Johnny Roseboro was 2-for-4.
Pitching star: Ron Perranoski pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.
Opposition stars: Sal Bando was 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs. Reggie Jackson was 1-for-3 with a double and two walks, scoring twice. Dick Green was 1-for-4 with a home run (his eighth) and a walk. Danny Cater was 1-for-5 with a three-run homer, his fifth.
The game: Oakland scored two in the first inning, as Green walked, Jackson doubled, and Bando delivered a two-out two-run single. The Twins opened the third with a double and a single, but did not score. In the fourth, however, the Twins evened the score as Killebrew singled, Rich Reese brought home a run with a single-plus-error, and Roseboro had an RBI single.
The Athletics went right back into the lead in the fifth. Ted Kubiak singled, Jackson walked, and Cater hit a two-out three-run homer, putting Oakland up 5-2. It went to 6-2 in the seventh when Green led off the inning with a home run.
The Twins made their move in the bottom of the seventh. Leo Cardenas was hit by a pitch, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Tovar's single. Graig Nettles pinch-hit and walked, putting men on first and second. A pair of productive ground outs brought home a run and left a man on third. Oliva then came through with an RBI single and Killebrew hit a two-run homer, giving the Twins their first lead of the game at 7-6.
That was all they would need. The Athletics put together a two-out threat in the eighth, when Tommie Reynolds singled and Ted Kubiak walked, but Dick Green hit into a force out. Oakland went down in order in the ninth.
WP: Joe Grzenda (3-1). LP: Rollie Fingers (3-5). S: Ron Perranoski (15).
Notes: Tovar was in center field and Ted Uhlaender in left. Uhlaender had been almost exclusively a center fielder up to this point. One assumes Billy Martin felt his defense was lacking--I frankly don't understand defensive statistics well enough to know if that feeling was justified.
Carew was 0-for-4 and his average fell to .357. Since June 28 his average had fallen twenty-five points. Oliva raised his average to .328. Rich Reese was 1-for-4 and was batting .316.
Neither starting pitcher did much. Dave Boswell pitched five innings, giving up five runs on five hits and five walks and striking out--four. Blue Moon Odom did well for six innings, but his line is six innings, five runs (four earned). six hits, one walk and five strikeouts.
Rollie Fingers gave up two runs on two hits in one inning. He was a twenty-two-year-old rookie in 1969, and not the star that he would one day become. He was a good pitcher right from the start, though. He made sixty appearances in 1969 (eight starts) and went 6-7, 3.71, 1.32 WHIP. He had twelve saves, which led the team. Others with a significant number of saves for Oakland were Paul Lindblad (9) and Lew Krausse (7). They only had thirty-six saves as a team. Fingers' record as a starter was not good--2-4, 5.04, 1.50 WHIP. His career record as a starter was better, but still nothing to get excited about--7-17, 4.32, 1.33 WHIP. His career numbers as a reliever are 107-101, 341 saves, 2.73, 1.13 WHIP. I think it's safe to say that keeping him in the bullpen was a wise decision.
Record: The Twins were 46-34, in first place in the American League West, two games ahead of Oakland. The series sweep gave them three wins in a row and seven in their last eight games.