MINNESOTA 3, OAKLAND 2 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Monday, April 22.
Batting stars: Greg Gagne was 2-for-4 with a stolen base. Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4.
Pitching stars: Kevin Tapani pitched six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out three. Larry Casian retired all four batters he faced. Rick Aguilera pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Lance Blankenship was 1-for-1 with a walk and a stolen base, his second. Dave Henderson was 1-for-3 with a walk. Mike Moore struck out six in six innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and four walks.
The game: In the first inning, the Twins got two hits, a walk, and two wild pitches but still managed to not score. A Dan Gladden caught stealing was a big part of the reason. The Athletics got on the board in the third inning. Willie Wilson singled, went to second on a balk, and scored on Dave Henderson's single to give Oakland a 1-0 lead.
The Twins took their first lead in the fifth. Gagne singled and stole second. Randy Bush drew a two-out walk, followed by consecutive RBI singles by Puckett and Kent Hrbek to go up 2-1. The Twins missed a chance to add to it in the sixth. Brian Harper and Mike Pagliarulo opened the inning with singles, but Chuck Knoblauch bunted into a force out, Gagne fanned, and Gladden flied to right to end the inning.
The Athletics made them pay for it, tying the score in the sixth. With one out, Mark McGwire doubled and Ernie Riles singled to make it 2-2. Not to worry, as the Twins took the lead back in the eighth. With two out and none on, Leius walked, Knoblauch singled, and Gagne singled home the go-ahead run. Oakland got a two-out single in the ninth, but no more.
WP: Steve Bedrosian (1-0). LP: Joe Klink (0-1). S: Aguilera (3).
Notes: Bush was in right field, with Puckett in center and Shane Mack on the bench. Mack pinch-hit for Bush in the seventh and stayed in the game in center, with Puckett moving to right. Bush batted in the second spot in the lineup, with Knoblauch batting eighth.
Puckett raised his average to .340. Tapani had an ERA of 2.05. Bedrosian pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up a walk and striking out one, and had an ERA of 2.57. Aguilera had an ERA of 1.50.
Gladden was 1-for-5 to raise his average to .098. Mack was 0-for-1 and was batting .138. Hrbek was 1-for-2 with two walks and was batting .140. Bush was 0-for-1 with two walks and was batting .158.
Small ball can be fun, but it sure didn't work for the Twins in this game. Gladden's caught stealing kept the Twins from scoring in the first. Knoblauch bunting into a force out in the sixth kept the Twins off the board in that inning. Pinch-runner Al Newman was caught stealing in the eighth, which is why the Twins had two out and none on before putting together the rally which scored the lead run.
Both Willie Wilson and Harold Baines started for Oakland in this game. I don't have a memory of either of them playing for the Athletics, but Wilson was there for two seasons and Baines for part of a third.
Larry Casian's career shows how up-and-down relief pitchers can be. His season ERAs are 3.22, 7.36, 2.70, 3.02, 7.35, 1.93, 1.88, 5.70, and 11.25. Still, he pitched in the big leagues for part of eight seasons and appeared in 245 major league games. That's not bad at all. His career numbers are 11-13, 2 saves, 4.56 ERA, 1.51 WHIP. But as you can see, he had a few years in which he was pretty good.
The Twins were getting some really good pitching. This was the sixth consecutive game in which they had given up four runs or fewer, and they only gave up four in the extra-inning game on April 17. Unfortunately, of course, they were 2-4 in those games. But they had won two in a row at this point.
Record: The Twins were 4-9, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, five games behind the White Sox. They were 1.5 games behind sixth place Kansas City.