BALTIMORE 11, MINNESOTA 2 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Monday, October 6.
Batting stars: Rich Reese was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Tony Oliva was 2-for-4 with a double. Leo Cardenas was 2-for-4 with a triple.
Pitching stars: None.
Opposition stars: Jim Palmer pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on ten hits and two walks and striking out four. Paul Blair was 5-for-6 with a home run and two doubles, driving in five. Don Buford was 4-for-6 with a double and a walk, scoring three times. Elrod Hendricks was 2-for-5 with two doubles, scoring twice and driving in three. Mark Belanger was 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs. Boog Powell was 2-for-5.
The game: The Orioles opened the game with singles by Buford and Blair, bu a double play took them out of the inning. The Twins took the lead in the bottom of the first. With two out Oliva doubled and took third on a wild pitch. Harmon Killebrew was intentionally walked, but Reese singled to put the Twins up 1-0.
It was all downhill from there. In the second Brooks Robinson doubled, Dave Johnson reached on an error, and Hendricks hit a two-run double to give Baltimore a 2-1 lead. It went to 3-1 later in the inning, as Buford hit a two-out single. The Orioles added two more in the fourth, as Belanger tripled, Buford walked, and Blair came through with a two-run double.
The Twins threatened in the bottom of the fourth, as Cardenas hit a two-out triple and Charlie Manuel walked, but Ted Uhlaender flied out to end the inning. They did get one back in the fifth, as Killebrew hit a two-out double and scored on Reese's single to make it 5-2.
That was as close as it would get. Baltimore scored one in the sixth on a double by Buford and singles by Blair and Frank Robinson. The score went to 8-2 in the eighth when Buford singled and Blair hit a two-run homer. In the ninth Johnson singled, Hendricks circled the bases on a double-plus-error, Belanger singled, and Blair had an RBI double.
WP: Palmer. LP: Bob Miller. S: None.
Notes: The Twins put Uhlaender back in left field and Roseboro back behind the plate. It didn't help, as they went 0-for-5 and 1-for-4, respectively.
Oliva was the only Twin batter to have a good series, going 5-for-13. Killebrew was 1-for-8, although he did draw six walks. It appears that Earl Weaver had made the decision that the Orioles were not going to let him beat them.
Miller seems an odd choice to start an elimination game. He had made only eleven starts on the season, versus thirty-seven appearances out of the bullpen. He had not done badly in those starts, but the Twins had Jim Kaat, Tom Hall, and Dean Chance all available. It's easy to second-guess fifty years later, of course, and I'm sure Billy Martin had his reasons for the choice he made. Still, Miller lasted just 1.2 innings and gave up three runs (one earned) on five hits.
It seems odd to have the Orioles score eleven runs and have neither Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, no Boog Powell be a significant factor. The top two men in the order, Buford and Blair, went a combined 9-for-11 with a home run, three doubles, and a walk. The seventh and eighth hitters, Hendricks and Belanger, were 4-for-10 with two doubles and a triple.
And so an excellent Twins season comes to a rather sad end. It was still a fun season, though. I was ten during the 1969 season, and while I'd rooted for the Twins earlier this was the first Twins team I really followed on a day-to-day basis. It probably remains my favorite Twins team ever. It's been a lot of fun reliving the season, and I hope you've enjoyed it as well.
We'll have a couple of wrap-up posts, listing league leaders and team leaders. Then we'll get ready to enjoy the 2019 baseball season. And if the good Lord is willing, next winter we'll choose another great Twins team from the past and do another rewind. And who knows? Maybe the 2019 Twins will have a great season and appear in the rewind at some point in the future.
Record: The Twins lost the best-of-five ALCS to the Orioles, three games to none.