1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-five

MINNESOTA 6, DETROIT 1 IN DETROIT

Date:  Friday, May 17.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs.  Junior Ortiz was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a walk.  Pedro Munoz was 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk, and two RBIs.  Kent Hrbek was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.  Chili Davis was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Scott Erickson pitched 6.1 innings, giving up one run on six hits and five walks and striking out three.  Steve Bedrosian pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Tony Phillips was 1-for-3 with two walks and a stolen base, his fourth.  Mickey Tettleton was 1-for-3 with a walk.

The game:  Davis and Munoz singled to open the second inning.  A double play looked like it might kill the rally, but Ortiz came through with an RBI double to put the Twins up 1-0.  Detroit tied it in the bottom of the second on singles by Tettleton and Dave Bergman and a Travis Fryman sacrifice fly.

It stayed 1-1 until the fifth, when the Twins took control of the game.  Ortiz led off with a double, followed by a Greg Gagne RBI single.  Dan Gladden then hit into a fly ball double play, with Gagne thrown out trying to advance to second, and it looked like that might be it for the inning.  But Chuck Knoblauch doubled, Puckett singled, and Hrbek doubled, leading to a three-run inning and a 4-1 Twins lead.  The Tigers tried to respond in the bottom of the inning, opening with singles by Phillips and Lou Whitaker, but a pair of pop ups, a walk, and a fly out stranded three runners.

The Twins scored a run in the seventh on three walks and a passed ball (Twins Baseball!).  The Detroit again tried to respond, loading the bases with one out on a single, a hit batsman, and a walk, but a pop up again ended the threat.

The Twins put it away in the ninth.  With one out, Puckett walked, singles by Hrbek and Davis plated one run, and a triple by Munoz brought home two more to bring the total to 8-1.

WP:  Erickson (6-2).  LP:  Bill Gullickson (4-2).  S:  Bedrosian (2).

Notes:  In memory, Shane Mack was the starting right fielder for the Twins all year, but as we've already seen that's not how it was.  He began the season in center, and then moved to the bench for a while.  Munoz was the starting right fielder in this game.  We'll see when Mack actually took over the right fielder job.

With Erickson pitching, personal catcher Ortiz was behind the plate.

Munoz raised his average to .333.  Knoblauch was 1-for-5 and was batting .315.  Davis raised his average to .308.  Puckett went up to .306.  Erickson's ERA went to 1.44.  Bedrosian lowered his ERA to 2.82.

Scott Leius was used as a pinch-hitter and stayed in the game to play third.  He went 0-for-1 with a walk and was batting .156.  I didn't remember that Leius got off to such a poor start.  Pagliarulo was batting .241 by this point--I wonder if there were people thinking Pagliarulo should be the full-time third baseman.  If so, those people were wrong.  Leius would start hitting, but even at this point, he had a .400 on-base percentage because he was drawing walks.  His OPS was .713, compared to Pagliarulo's .540.

Ortiz had just five doubles in 1991, making it even more odd that two of them would come in the same game.  He would have another on the last day of May, and then not another one until August 23.  His final double of the season came on September 2.  He also somehow had a triple on July 30 in Detroit.  For his career he had 71 doubles, with a high of 13 for Cleveland in 1993.  He had four triples, never having more than one per season.

The walk to Davis was an intentional walk, his fifth intentional walk of the season.  He would end the year with thirteen.

The Twins were now 5-1 against the Tigers.  The would go 8-4 against them for the season.

Record:  The Twins were 18-17, tied for fifth with California, but just two percentage points behind Chicago.  They trailed first-place Seattle by three games.

5 thoughts on “1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-five”

  1. Junior Ortiz had begun referring to Erickson's ERA as "our ERA." Ortiz had also started wearing his stirrups like Erickson, but abandoned it in this start because he was tired of "hitting like a pitcher." He joked that his average would get back up near .400 by the end of the season "like normal."

    Puckett made a Willie Mays-like back-to-the-plate catch of Fryman's sacrifice fly with two men on base. "That could have been disastrous," Erickson said about the fly ball.

    In his first visit to Tiger Stadium as an opponent, Jack Morris said, "I feel more a part of the Twins than I ever felt in Detroit." (I'm really starting to think this guy is just a self-absorbed jerk who'll prattle on about anything. )

    1. One of the things that (at the time) annoyed me so much about Morris leaving after the season was that he had spent the entire 1991 campaign telling everyone who would listen (and probably some who wouldn't) how happy he was to be home, what a thrill it was to pitch for the Twins, how it was a dream come true, etc., etc. Then the first time someone offered him more money, he left. I have no problem with players making more money. I had a problem with him lying to everyone all year.

      1. Yeah, we always hear about "I have to think of my family, blah blah blah" - I know when Pujols left StL, back in the day, if he'd just come out and said "hey, they're waving stupid money at me" no one would blame him, but they never just come out and say what everyone knows to be truth

      2. I'm especially sympathetic to Morris because he was only a free agent as a result of the collusion a few offseasons earlier. Still, his ability to say completely obnoxious and oblivious things in seemingly every contemporary newspaper article combined with his horrific broadcasting sure cuts into that sympathy.

        Edited to add: not that he's a bad broadcaster because of his broadcasting skills; he's a bad broadcaster because of his antiquated takes on every single thing without any seeming interest in getting better or understanding the current game

        1. His experience of collusion over multiple off-seasons does earn him a certain degree of understanding from me, too. However, I do think it’s pretty clear he’s a jerk; adding to your points above, Morris was also notoriously terrible to women who had access to the clubhouse.

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