SEATTLE 4, MINNESOTA 3 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Sunday, September 21.
Batting stars: Harmon Killebrew was 3-for-3 with two home runs (his forty-fifth and forty-sixth) and a walk. George Mitterwald was 3-for-4.
Pitching stars: Dean Chance pitched six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits and two walks and striking out three. Jim Kaat struck out three in three innings, giving up one run on one hit.
Opposition stars: Tommy Harper was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, his seventh-second and seventy-third. John Donaldson was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his sixth. Steve Hovley was 2-for-4. John O'Donoghue pitched two shutout innings, giving up a walk.
The game: Harper led off the game with a single and stole second. Future Twin Danny Walton got a bunt single, with Harper staying at second. They then pulled off a double steal, moving to second and third with one out. But Hovley lined into an unassisted double play at shortstop, and the game remained scoreless until the bottom of the first, when Killebrew hit a two-out home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.
The Pilots took the lead in the fourth. With one out, Walton walked, Hovley singled, and Ex-Twin Don Mincher walked, loading the bases. Jerry McNertney hit into a force out to tie the score and Donaldson singled to center to put Seattle in front 2-1. The lead lasted until the second batter of the bottom of the fourth, when Killebrew again homered, tying it 2-2.
Each team scored once in the sixth. Seattle got singles by Hovley, Mincher, and Donaldson to go ahead 3-2. In the bottom of the inning, Tovar was hit by a pitch, stole second and third, and scored on a Rod Carew single, tying the score 3-3.
The Twins missed a chance in the eighth. Kaat led off with a single, and an error on Tovar's sacrifice bunt put men on first and third with none out. Carew grounded out to put men on second and third, Killebrew was intentionally walked, and Oliva hit into a 1-2-3 double play. The missed chance cost the Twins, as Kennedy homered with two out in the ninth to give the Pilots a 4-3 lead. It was enough, as the Twins went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
WP: O'Donoghue (2-2). LP: Kaat (13-12). S: None.
Notes: Bob Allison was in left, with Ted Uhlaender on the bench. Uhlaender pinch-hit in the seventh and remained in the game. Rick Renick was at third, with Killebrew moving to first and Rich Reese on the bench. Reese pinch-hit in the seventh and remained in the game. Mitterwald was behind the plate in place of Johnny Roseboro.
This game was the last major league appearance for Frank Kostro, who pinch-hit for Chance in the sixth inning. Kostro had gone back-and-forth between the Twins and AAA since 1964. He got exactly 300 plate appearances as a Twin, batting .251/.292/.331. The most playing time he got as a Twin came in 1968, when he appeared in 63 games and had 118 plate appearances.
The Seattle starting pitcher was Bob Meyer. He pitched six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and no walks and striking out seven. Meyer began his major league career in 1964, pitching for three teams (Yankees, Angels, Athletics) and going 2-8, 4.37 in 22 games, 13 of them starts. He then spent the next four seasons in the minors, not making it back until late August of 1969 with the Pilots. He appeared in six games, five of them starts, and while he went 0-3 it was with an ERA of 3.31 and a WHIP of 1.22. He started 1970 in the bullpen with the now Milwaukee Brewers, but in ten games went 0-1, 6.38. He spent the rest of the season in the minors, was released in late March of 1971, and his playing career ended. For his career he was 2-12, 4.38 in 129.1 innings. He appeared in 38 games, 18 of them starts. Still, for an undrafted free agent, that's not too bad.
I have to admit that I kind of miss the days when players would steal, fifty, sixty, or seventy bases in a season. I'm not arguing the analytics or anything. I just think it was an exciting brand of baseball, and I miss it.
Record: The Twins were 91-61, in first place in the American League West, ten games ahead of Oakland. The Athletics defeated California 12-2, so the Twins magic number remained one.