1969 Rewind: Game Ninety-seven

CLEVELAND 6, MINNESOTA 5 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Thursday, July 24.

Batting stars:  Rod Carew was 3-for-4.  Ted Uhlaender was 3-for-5 with two RBIs.  Cesar Tovar was 2-for-4 with a triple.  Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twenty-ninth.

Pitching star:  Al Worthington pitched a scoreless inning and strukc out one.

Opposition stars:  Tony Horton was 3-for-4.  Ken Harrelson was 2-for-4 with two home runs, his nineteenth and twentieth.  Lou Klimchock was 2-for-4 with a triple.  Russ Snyder was 2-for-4 with a double.  Ron Law pitched three shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

The game:  The Twins had men on second and third with one out in both the first and second innings, but did not score.  The Indians got on the board in the third.  Jose Cardenal singled and Snyder doubled, putting men on second and third.  A pair of wild pitches made it 2-0 and a Harrelson homer made it 3-0.

The Twins started their comeback in the fifth.  Singles by Uhlaender and Carew put men on first and third.  Oliva hit a sacrifice fly and Killebrew followed with a two-run homer to tie the score.  The Twins took the lead in the sixth.  Tovar tripled with one out.  An intentional walk to Leo Cardenas and an accidental walk to Bob Miller loaded the bases.  Uhlaender delivered a two-run single to give Minnesota a 5-3 lead.

In the sixth, Cleveland loaded the bases with none out on a single, an error, and a bunt single.  Richie Scheinblum hit a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 5-4, but a double play ended the inning with no further damage.  The bad news was only put off, however.  In the seventh, Harrelson homered to tie it 5-5.  Horton singled, and Klimchock came through with a two-out triple to give the Indians a 6-5 advantage.  The Twins did not get a hit after the sixth inning

WP:  Law (1-0).  LP:  Miller (2-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Oliva returned to the lineup in his usual spot in right field.  Tovar went back to center field, with Uhlaender in left.  I haven't looked at any stats, but that sounds to me like a pretty good defensive outfield.

Dave Boswell started but pitched just 3.2 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks and striking out two.  The Cleveland starter was future Twin Luis Tiant, He pitched five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out three.

I wonder if Boswell had a minor injury or just wasn't feeling well.  He gave up the three runs in the third, but then started the fourth.  He retired Eddie Leon on a ground ball, gave up a single to Tiant, then retired Jose Cardenal on a fly out.  That's the point at which he was removed from the game.  It just seems like an odd time to pull him, which makes me think something else must have been going on there.

In the sixth, with the Twins leading 5-3, one out, and runners on first and second, Carew bunted.  He was given a sacrifice, but I wonder if he was bunting for a base hit.  It was a different game fifty years ago, of course, and the Twins did have Oliva and Killebrew coming up next.  Still, Carew was batting .369.  I wouldn't want him to be laying down a sacrifice bunt.  If, in fact, he was bunting for a hit, then I'll go with his instincts over mine, and the fact that it didn't work out doesn't automatically make it a bad play.

I have no memory of a pitcher named Ron Law.  I think I can be excused, because this is the only season he pitched in the majors.  He had been in the Cubs organization through 1968, then was drafted by the Indians in the minor league draft, which I suspect might have been a predecessor to the Rule 5 draft.  He started the season in AA Waterbury, went 8-4, 3.30, 1.38 in thirteen starts, and was called up to the majors.  It seems like teams were more willing to call people up from AA back then.  He was in their bullpen the rest of the season, with the exception of one start.  It did not go particularly well, as he went 3-4, 4.99, 1.95 WHIP.  He did have one stretch, from July 29 through August 18, in which he gave up just two earned runs in 18.1 innings (12 appearances).  He pitched in the minors through 1972, mostly in the Washington/Texas organization.  To my surprise, I see that he also pitched briefly in the Twins' organization (11 games for AAA Tacoma in 1972).  We'll have to add his biography this year.  He is one of two major league players to be born in Hamilton, Ontario (Brian Ostrosser).

Record:  The Twins were 60-38, in first place in the American League West, leading Oakland by three games.

3 thoughts on “1969 Rewind: Game Ninety-seven”

  1. Oliva and Tovar were very good in the outfield, though the stats we have rate Uehlander as the team's worst outfielder and pretty bad for most of his career.

    Though there were not great options in 1969 anyway. Allison and Reese weren't helping much out there. What I am pretty sure of is Killebrew had no business playing third. Though I guess if there was a flyball pitcher on the mound you want Tovar in center instead of the hot corner.

    1. Reese only played five games in left--he was mostly at first base, which is why Killebrew was at third. Martin wanted both bats in the lineup. The left field options besides Allison and Uhlaender were Charlie Manuel and Graig Nettles, I don't know, but I'm skeptical that either of them was very good at it.

Leave a Reply