1969 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twenty


Date:  Monday, August 18.

Batting stars:  George Mitterwald was 2-for-4 with a double.  Tony Oliva was 2-for-5.  Rich Reese was 2-for-5.  Graig Nettles was 1-for-3 with a home run, his sixth.  Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-5 with a three-run homer, his thirty-third.

Pitching star:   Dave Boswell pitched seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks and striking out six.

Opposition stars:  Mike Andrews was 2-for-3 with two walks.  Tony Conigliaro was 2-for-4 with a home run (his sixteenth) and four RBIs.  Carl Yastrzemski was 2-for-5 with a double.  Ex-Twin Lee Stange pitched 3.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and two walks.

The game:  Boswell ran into trouble in the first inning.  He walked Mike Andrews and gave up a triple to Dalton Jones, putting the Red Sox up 1-0 two batters into the game.  He retired the next two batters with Jones still on third, leading to hopes that he would get out of the inning with no further damage.  Then, however, Rico Petrocelli walked, Conigliaro had an RBI single, and George Scott reached on an error, making the score 3-0.

The Twins first nine batters were all retired, but the offense came to life in the fourth.  Cesar Tovar doubled and went to third on a Ted Uhlaender single.  Oliva singled in a run and Killebrew followed with a three-run homer, putting the Twins ahead 4-3.  The home run did not kill the rally, however.  With one out, Nettles homered to make it 5-3.  The rally was still not killed, as with two out Mitterwald doubled and scored on Boswell's single.  The Twins led 6-3 after the inning.

Boswell had been in control after the first inning.  The only threat Boston had was in the fifth, when Andrews singled and was thrown out trying to score on Yastrzemski's double.  With the score still 6-3, however, Bill Zepp came in to start the eighth.  Yastrzemski singled to start the inning and Reggie Smith walked.  Petrocelli struck out, but Conigliaro hit a three-run homer to tie the score 6-6.

Each team put a man in scoring position in the ninth.  Mitterwald singled to start the top of the ninth and was bunted to second.  He went to third on a fly out, but that was as far as he got.  In the bottom of the ninth, Dick Woodson issued one-out walks to Andrews and Syd O'Brien, but Ron Perranoski came in and got a double play to end the inning.

The Twins could manage only a two-out single in the top of the tenth.  In the bottom of the tenth, Smith led off with a walk and was bunted to second.  Conigliaro was intentionally walked, but Scott foiled the strategy with a game-ending double to center.

WP:  Sparky Lyle (6-1).  LP:  Perranoski (8-7).  S:  None.

Notes:  Tovar was at second base with Uhlaender in center and Nettles in left.  Mitterwald was behind the plate.

Reese boosted his average to .338.  Oliva was batting .322.  Perranoski's ERA went up to 2.08.

This isn't a second-guess, exactly, because there are a lot of things I don't know that went into the decision.  But it seems strange a) that Boswell was pulled after seven innings and b) that Zepp would have been brought in.  It was Boswell's first appearance since July 31, which may have been the reason he was pulled, but Billy Martin notoriously did not usually worry about things like that.  I don't have a pitch count for him (not that Martin would've worried about that, either), but he had faced twenty-nine batters, not a huge amount.  Zepp was a twenty-two-year-old rookie making his second major league appearance.  He had done well in his first one, but with Perranoski and Al Worthington ready to go, as well as Woodson, I wonder why Zepp was the choice.  Again, I'm sure there are reasons I know nothing about.  I just wonder what they were.

This was after Tony Conigliaro was beaned--1969 was his first year back.  He wasn't as good as he'd been, but he was still a productive player--.255/.321/.427 with 20 homers.  In 1970 he looked like he was back where he'd been--.266/.324/.498 with 36 homers, all numbers that were pretty much in line with his pre-beaning stats.  That was his last good year, though.  He was traded to the Angels after the season, had a poor year in 1971, and retired.  He tried to come back with Boston in 1975, but it simply was not to be.

Record:  The Twins were 71-49, in first place in the American League West, 1.5 games ahead of Oakland.