MINNESOTA 4, CALIFORNIA 3 IN CALIFORNIA
Date: Sunday, April 21.
Batting stars: Chili Davis was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer (his third) and a walk. Gene Larkin was 2-for-4 with a double. Dan Gladden was 2-for-5 with a double and a stolen base. Kirby Puckett was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.
Pitching stars: Scott Erickson pitched 7.1 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out five. Rick Aguilera pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.
Opposition stars: Luis Polonia was 2-for-4. Donnie Hill was 2-for-4. Mark Langston struck out eight in 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and five walks. Mark Eichhorn pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up an unearned run on two hits and no walks. He struck out one.
The game: Puckett started the scoring with a two-out homer in the first inning, the first time in quite a while the Twins had a lead. They threatened in the second, as Larkin got a two-out double and Scott Leius walked, but Al Newman was caught looking to end the threat. The Twins got two in the third, though, as Gladden led off with a double and Davis hit a two-out home run to make the score 3-0.
The Angels came back in the fourth. Donnie Hill led off with a single and scored on Dave Parker's two-out double. A passed ball sent Parker to third and an infield single by Junior Felix brought him home. Jack Howell walked and Max Venable singled to tie the score 3-3.
In the fifth, Gladden singled, stole second, and went to third on a ground out, but Davis watched strike three go by to end the inning. A pair of walks put men on first and second with one out in the seventh, but a double play ended that inning.
The Twins took the lead back in the eighth. Davis singled and pinch-hitter Kent Hrbek hit into a force out. Hrbek then stole second and scored on a Junior Ortiz single-plus-error to put the Twins up 4-3. It would stand up. Polonia led off the bottom of the eighth with a double, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple. California did not threaten after that. The losing streak was finally over.
WP: Erickson (1-2). Eichhorn (0-1). S: Aguilera (2).
Notes: Carmelo Castillo started in right field, with Puckett in center and Shane Mack on the bench. Mack came in for defense in the eighth, playing center, with Puckett moving to right. With Erickson pitching, Ortiz was behind the plate instead of Brian Harper. Larkin started at first base with Hrbek on the bench. Hrbek stayed in the game after his pinch-hitting appearance and played first. Newman started at second base, with Chuck Knoblauch on the bench. After Mike Pagliarulo pinch-hit for Leius in the ninth, Knoblauch came in to play second, with Newman moving to third.
Larkin was 2-for-4 and was batting .429. Puckett was batting .326. If he was upset about being moved to right field, he wasn't allowing it to affect his batting.
This was Castillo's first start of the season. He went 0-for-3 and was hitless in six at-bats on the year. Gladden raised his average to .083. Ortiz was 1-for-3 with a walk and was also batting .083. Newman was 0-for-3 with a walk and was also batting .083. Hrbek was 0-for-1 and was batting .122. Leius was 0-for-2 with a walk and was batting .133. Erickson had an ERA of 2.86. Aguilera had an ERA of 1.80.
This was one of four stolen bases Hrbek had on the season. He was also caught stealing four times. He had thirty-seven stolen bases for his career and was caught stealing twenty-six times.
Ortiz had just twenty-eight hits for the season and just eleven RBIs. He did not get an RBI here, as there was an error involved. Hrbek stealing a base and Ortiz getting a hit to bring him home, even with an error, had to be one of the most unusual ways possible for the Twins to finally win a game.
I'm not going to do a full bio, but it seems like people have forgotten what a fine pitcher Mark Langston was. He was second in Rookie of the Year voting to teammate Alvin Davis in 1984. He made the all-star team four times, won five Gold Gloves, and finished in the top six in Cy Young voting twice. He led the league in strikeouts three times. He made thirty-two to thirty-six starts every year from 1986 to 1993 and pitched 223 to 271 innings each of those seasons. His career numbers are 179-158, 3.97 in almost 3000 innings (457 games, 428 starts). I'm not nominating him for the Hall of Fame, but you would certainly want a pitcher like that on your team.
Record: The Twins were 3-9, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, five games behind the White Sox, They were 2.5 games behind sixth-place Texas.