CALIFORNIA 15, MINNESOTA 9 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Saturday, April 13.
Batting stars: Chuck Knoblauch was 3-for-3 with two walks, a stolen base, and two runs. Greg Gagne was 2-for-4 with a double. Brian Harper was 2-for-4 with a double. Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5 with a home run, two runs, and three RBIs. Kent Hrbek was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer.
Pitching star: Steve Bedrosian struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.
Opposition stars: Dave Winfield was 5-for-6 with three home runs, a double, four runs, and six RBIs. Ex-Twin Gary Gaetti was 4-for-6 with a double. Wally Joyner was 3-for-5 with a double, a walk, three runs, and three RBIs. John Orton was 2-for-4 with a double. Scott Bailes struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.
The game: With two out in the first inning, Joyner singled, Winfield homered, and Lance Parrish homered to put the Angels up 3-0. The Twins responded in the bottom of the first, as Knoblauch drew a one-out walk and Puckett hit a two-run homer, cutting the margin to 3-2.
California seemed to take control of the game in the third. Dick Schofield led off with a single and Luis Sojo followed with an RBI triple. With one out, Winfield hit a two-run homer. It did not kill the rally, as Parrish walked, Gaetti doubled, and Junior Felix had an RBI single to make the score 7-2 Angels. Winfield homered again leading off the fifth, and California led 8-2.
The Twins got back into the game in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Gagne doubled and scored on a Dan Gladden single-plus-error. Knoblauch had an RBI single, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Puckett's single. Hrbek then hit a two-run homer, and the Twins trailed by just 8-7.
But as quickly as the Twins got back into the game, they were back out of it. Orton led off the sixth with a single and went to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Donnie Hill doubled to score Orton and Joyner singled to score Hill. Winfield followed with a double, Parrish was intentionally walked, Gaetti drove in a run with a single, and Felix hit a sacrifice fly. The Angels were back up by five at 12-7.
The Twins again tried to come back. Harper doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Randy Bush walked. Gagne had an RBI single to make it 12-8. A double play threatened to take them out of the inning, but Knoblauch walked and a wild pitch made it 12-9. Puckett grounded out, however, and the inning ended.
That was the last threat the Twins would have. California added three in the ninth, as Dave Gallagher had a bunt single, Hill drew a two-out walk, Joyner delivered a two-run double, and Winfield added an RBI single.
WP: Bailes (1-0). LP: Mark Guthrie (0-1). S: None.
Notes: Puckett was in center field. Bush was in right, replacing Shane Mack.
Gagne raised his average to .417. Chili Davis was 1-for-4 and was batting .353. Knoblauch raised his average to .353. Puckett was batting .350. Scott Leius pinch-hit and was 0-for-1, making his average .333.
On the other end, Gladden got his first hit of the season and was batting .059. Hrbek was batting .158. Bush was 0-for-2 with a walk and was batting .167.
Guthrie pitched just 2.1 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits. He did not walk anyone (maybe he should have) and struck out three. This would be his last year as a starter, and by the end of June he would become a full-time reliever. He went on to have a long career in the bullpen, lasting through 2003. In addition to the Twins, he played for the Dodgers, Boston, the Cubs, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Oakland, the Mets, and the Cubs again. He would reach the post-season five times.
I have zero memory of John Orton. He was a backup catcher for parts of five seasons, all with the Angels. He appears to have been your standard no-hit backup backstop. In AA he batted .230/.314/.406. In AAA he batted .230/.315/.354. In the majors he batted .200/.265/.274. His career spanned 1989-1993. In his five big-league years, he appeared in 156 games and had 448 plate appearances. He stayed in baseball after his playing career ended, managing in the White Sox organization from 2001-2005. He became the Sox' minor league catching coordinator in 2011 and continues to hold that position.
Record: The Twins were 2-3, in fifth place in the American League West, 2.5 games behind California.