1991 Rewind: Game Fourteen

OAKLAND 7, MINNESOTA 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, April 23.

Batting stars:  Brian Harper was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.  Greg Gagne was 2-for-4 with a home run (his second) and two runs.  Dan Gladden was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer.

Pitching star:  Terry Leach pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Jose Canseco was 2-for-3 with two walks, two stolen bases, (his third and fourth), and two runs.  Dave Henderson was 2-for-5 with two doubles.  Willie Wilson was 2-for-5 with a triple.  Lance Blankenship was 2-for-5.  Terry Steinbach was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, a hit-by-pitch, and two runs.  Kirk Dressendorfer pitched 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on six hits and three walks and striking out two.  Steve Chitren pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and striking out one.

The game:  The Athletics jumped on Twins starter Mark Guthrie for three runs in the first inning.  With one out, Henderson doubled, Canseco walked, and Steinbach hit a three-run homer to put Oakland ahead 3-0.  The Twins had a good chance in the second.  Chili Davis drew a one-out walk and Harper singled.  Mike Pagliarulo delivered a single, but Davis was thrown out at the plate.  Randy Bush was caught looking and the inning was over.

The Athletics added to their lead in the third.  Canseco singled, stole second, and went to third on a wild pitch.  Mark McGwire walked, and with two out McGwire and Canseco pulled off a double steal of second and home.  The baserunning gave Oakland a 4-0 lead.  It went to 6-0 in the fourth, as Fred Manrique singled, Wilson tripled, and Henderson doubled.

The Twins got on the board in the fourth.  With one out, Kent Hrbek and Davis walked and Harper had an RBI single.  The Twins still had men on first and third with one out.  Pagliarulo hit a fly to left on which Harper somehow took second without Davis scoring.  Perhaps, having been thrown out at the plate once, Davis (or third base coach Ron Gardenhire) did not want to risk having it happen again.  At any rate, Bush then grounded out to end the inning with the score 6-1.

The teams exchanged runs, with Harper singling one home in the sixth and the Athletics answering with a Blankenship RBI single in the seventh.  The Twins tried to get back into it in the bottom of the seventh.  Gagne singled and Gladden homered to cut the lead to 7-4.  Gagne led off the ninth with a homer to make it 7-5, but that was as good as it would get for the Twins.

WP:  Dressendorfer (2-1).  LP:  Guthrie (0-2).  S:  Dennis Eckersley (5).

Notes:  Bush again started in right field, with Kirby Puckett in center.  Shane Mack pinch-hit for Bush in the sixth and stayed in the game in center, with Puckett moving to right.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Mack in the eighth and stayed in the game in right, with Puckett moving back to center.

Larkin was 0-for-1 and was batting .375.  Harper raised his average to .343.  Puckett was 0-for-5 and was batting .309.  Gagne raised his average to .306.

Gladden raised his average to .109.  Mack was 0-for-1 and was batting .133.  Bush was 0-for-2 and was batting .143.  Hrbek was 1-for-3 with a walk and was batting .152.  Scott Leius was 1-for-2 and was batting .176.

Guthrie lasted just 2.1 innings, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks and striking out one.  His ERA was 18.00.  Carl Willis saved the bullpen by pitched 4.2 innings of relief.  He gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk and struck out two.  His ERA was 5.79.  Terry Leach lowered his ERA to 5.40.

The 4.2 innings of relief were not the most Willis would pitch in 1991.  Twice he pitched five innings of relief.  He also had a 4.1 inning appearance and three appearances of four innings.  We can safely say he was used as a long reliever.  For the season, he pitched 89 innings over 40 games.  He was very good, posting an ERA of 2.63 and a WHIP of 1.07.

The Twins winning streak ended at just two.

This was Steve Chitren's only full season in the majors.  He had gotten a September call-up in 1990.  He started 1991 very well, not giving up a run in his first eleven appearances (11 innings).  He had nowhere to go but down, and he did.  He had only one month other than April in which he posted an ERA below 4.00, and he had an awful August (9.39).  For the season, he had an ERA of 4.33 with a WHIP of 1.51.  He was born in Tokyo, but appears to have been raised in the United States.  There's a Steve Chitren of about the right age who was on the run from the law for numerous theft charges in Las Vegas.  He apparently had done the thefts to provide money for a gambling addiction.  No article mentions that he was a former big league ballplayer, though, and one would expect that to be something they would mention, so it may well be a different Steve Chitren.

Record:  The Twins were 4-10, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, six games behind the White Sox.  They were 2.5 games behind sixth-place Kansas City.

7 thoughts on “1991 Rewind: Game Fourteen”

  1. This was also Carl Willis’ first appearance with the Twins, and his first in the majors since throwing 12 mid-season innings for the White Sox in 1988. Willis actually started the season in Portland; he threw 11 innings for the Beavers before getting called up. I’m not entirely certain who he replaced on the active roster, but I think it may have been Gary Wayne, who didn’t make an appearance for the Twins between 14 April and 09 September. I suppose it’s possible they called up Willis to replace a position player who went on the DL or was sent down, but I doubt it.

    1. According to the STrib, Willis was brought up on April 19 when Gary Wayne was sent to AAA. They brought up Willis because they felt they needed a longman in ther bullpen with a struggling rotation. Willis had been stretched out as a starter and pitched seven innings in his final AAA start before the promotion on April 16.

  2. This was Terry Steinbach's first career homerun in Minnesota.

    Apparently, Harold Baines struck out for the second out of third inning with Mark McGwire stealing second base. For some reason, Gagne caught the throw and had McGwire nailed to end the inning, but he missed the tag allowing Canseco to score.

    (Who would have thought in 1991 that Baines would be the A involved in the play in the HOF?)

Leave a Reply