1991 Rewind: Game Twenty-six


Date:  Tuesday, May 7.

Batting stars:  Chili Davis was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, and three RBIs.  Greg Gagne was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a stolen base (his second), and two runs.  Dan Gladden was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5.  Shane Mack was 1-for-2 with a three-run homer, his second.

Pitching star:  Scott Erickson pitched a complete game, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks and struck out five.  He threw 120 pitches.

Opposition stars:  Ellis Burks was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Carlos Quintana was 2-for-4.  Tom Brunansky was 1-for-3 with a walk and a three-run homer, his fifth.

The game:  It was close most of the way.  The Twins started the game with singles by GladdenChuck Knoblauch, and Puckett to take a 1-0 lead, but could do no more.  The Red Sox got two singles in the bottom of the first but still sent only three men to the plate, losing one runner on a caught stealing and the other on a double play.

Neither team did much after that until the fifth.  Mike Pagliarulo opened the inning with a single and Gagne followed with a double.  Gladden drew a walk, loading the bases with none out.  Knoblauch hit a sacrifice fly and Davis doubled, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead.  It went to 6-0 in the seventh, when Puckett got a one-out single, Davis followed with another single, and Mack delivered a pinch-hit three-run homer.  The Twins added three more in the eighth, again with one out.  Gagne walked, Gladden and pinch-hitter Al Newman singled, and Davis doubled.

Boston did manage to get on the board in the ninth.  Ellis Burks singled, Jack Clark reached on an error, and with one out ex-Twin Brunansky hit a three-run homer.

WP:  Erickson (4-2).  LP:  Greg Harris (1-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Randy Bush started in right field, with Mack pinch-hitting for him in the seventh and remaining in the game in right.  Ortiz was at catcher with Erickson on the mound.  Gene Larkin was at first base in place of Kent Hrbek.  Carmelo Castillo pinch-hit for him in the ninth and Brian Harper finished the game at first base.

Gagne raised his average to .338.  Davis was batting .325.  Knoblauch and Puckett were each batting .316.  Erickson's ERA was 1.65.

Scott Leius pinch-hit for Pagliarulo in the eighth and went 0-for-2.  He was batting .185.  Mack raised his average to .190.

There's no way that, today, Erickson would've been allowed to throw 120 pitches in a game that the Twins were winning 9-0 going to the ninth.  It really didn't make a whole lot of sense then, either.  But he had a shutout going, and that's just the way things were done at the time.  I doubt if anyone really thought about it much.

As you probably know, playing a position other than catcher was nothing new for Brian Harper.  Early in his career, he was blocked by people like Tony Pena, Lance Parrish, and Terry Steinbach, and so--in John Gordon's phrase--he played around.  He played 114 games in the outfield and a handful of games at third as well as first.  It wasn't until he got to the Twins in 1988, where the incumbent backstop was Tim Laudner, that he actually got a shot at the catching job.  When he did, he made the most of it.  In his six seasons with the Twins, he batted over .300 four times and was over .290 the other two times.  He didn't get a regular job in the majors until he was twenty-nine--had he gotten started earlier, he might have had an even better career.  As it was, he played in parts of sixteen seasons, had well over three thousand plate appearances, and put up a line of .295/.329/.419.  That's a pretty respectable career.

After that 2-9 start, the Twins finally got back to .500.  Would they stay there?  We'll find out tomorrow!

Record:  The Twins were 13-13, tied for fifth with California in the American League West, 3.5 games behind Oakland.  Only one game separated the second through sixth place teams.

3 thoughts on “1991 Rewind: Game Twenty-six”

  1. Brian Harper remains my favorite non-star Twin, though Luis Arraez could begin to challenge that with a few more seasons like 2019. Home runs are plenty cool, but I dig guys who rip doubles — especially catchers.

    Just over 20% of Harper's hits were doubles during his Twins years. Of Twins & Senators with at least 20% doubles and 2000 franchise PA, Harper is 8th in WAR Batting Runs, behind Mauer, Morneau, Cronin, Cuddyer, Koskie, Dozier, & Lawton.

    1. This Twins squad actually had four players with 20% doubles rates over 2000 Twins PA: Harper, Bush, Larkin, & Gagne. Drop the threshold to 1000 PA and Chili Davis joins them.

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