1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-seven

DETROIT 8, MINNESOTA 3 IN DETROIT

Date:  Sunday, May 19.

Batting stars:  Mike Pagliarulo was 3-for-3 with two home runs.  Al Newman was 2-for-3.

Pitching star:  Carl Willis pitched four shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out three.

Opposition stars:  Dan Petry pitched eight innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits and no walks and striking out two.  Pete Incaviglia was 2-for-3 with a home run (his fourth), a walk, and two runs.  Mickey Tettleton was 2-for-4 with a triple and a walk.  Tony Phillips was 2-for-5 with a double.  Milt Cuyler was 1-for-3 with a grand slam and a walk.  Cecil Fielder was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his sixth.

The game:  The Tigers made it a laugher early, scoring seven runs in the first inning off Twins starter Jack Morris.  Tony Phillips singled, Lou Whitaker walked, and with one out Fielder hit a three-run homer.  It did not kill the rally, as Tettleton singled, Incaviglia had a two-out single, Travis Fryman reached on an error, and Cuyler hit a grand slam to make the score 7-0 Detroit.  It was pretty much over at that point.

The Twins got on the board in the third.  Pagliarulo led off with an inside the park home run.  Greg Gagne followed with a double and scored on Newman's bunt single-plus-error.  Incaviglia got one of the runs back in the bottom of the third with a home run, making the score 8-2.  Pagliarulo hit an outside the park home run in the fifth to make it 8-3.

And that was pretty much it.  The Twins did not get a man past first after that and the Tigers only once got a man as far as second.

WP:  Petry (2-2).  LP:  Morris (3-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Newman was at second base, replacing Chuck Knoblauch.  Pedro Munoz was in right field.  With Knoblauch out, Munoz batted second.  Randy Bush pinch-hit for Munoz in the eighth and remained in the game in right field.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Chili Davis in the ninth and had the honor of making the last out of the game.

Brian Harper was 0-for-3 and was batting .372.  Munoz was 1-for-3 and was batting .333.  Kirby Puckett was 1-for-4 and was batting .310.  Gagne was 1-for-3 and was batting .308.  With four shutout innings, Willis lowered his ERA to 3.38.

Morris lasted four innings and gave up eight runs (four earned) on seven hits and six walks.  He struck out three and threw 107 pitches in his four innings.  This would be good to remember the next time he or Bert complain about pitchers needing a hundred pitches to get through five innings.   It was the third time in four games he had given up five or more runs.  Morris' ERA was 5.34.  He may never have lost with ten runs, but here he would've lost with seven.

It would seem pretty unusual for the same pitcher to give up a three-run homer and a grand slam in the same inning.  I'm not suggesting it's as rare as an unassisted triple play, but it doesn't seem like something that happens very often.

I had completely forgotten that Pagliarulo had an inside the park home run for the Twins.  I have no details of it to share with you, other than that it came on a fly ball to left field and that Phillips was the left fielder.

This was the second time in four days that Willis saved the bullpen by pitching multiple good innings of relief.  In his last three appearances (10.1 innings) he had given up one run on seven his and one walk while striking out four.

I think, if Carl Willis was my pitching coach and he came out for a mound visit, I would not be able to resist the urge to say, "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

In a lineup that had Cecil Fielder, Pete Incaviglia, Rob Deer, Travis Fryman, and others, it was Milt Cuyler who delivered the key blow with the grand slam.  He hit three home runs in 1991 and had ten for his career.  Things like that are either the most glorious or the most frustrating thing about the game, depending on which side of them you're on.  But regardless of which side you're on, things like that just make you shrug your shoulders and say, "Well, that's baseball."

Record:  The Twins were 19-18, in sixth place in the American League West, but just one percentage point behind fifth-place Chicago.  They trailed division-leading Oakland by 3.5 games.

2 thoughts on “1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-seven”

  1. Morris threw 44 pitches in the first inning. Ouch. Willis was getting loose six batters into the game, yet Kelly let Morris keep going. The pitch before Fryman reached on an error, he hooked a pitch into the second-deck just foul. It makes you wonder what exactly needed to happen for Morris to get pulled.

    At least we know he wasn't looking to the bullpen. Morris was in his usual role of stopping a Tiger losing streak; they had lost their previous 8 games.

    "I think most of the fans got to see what they wanted to see," Morris sneered. "Some people are feeling good now, so the world is a better place because of me."

    Morris blamed the cold, gametime temperature of ... 66 degrees! The chilly elements apparently made it difficult to grip his forkball and slider. He also complained that Cuyler's grand slam was "a notorious Tiger Stadium blast," that barely cleared the wall.

    At this point, Morris had allowed 104 baserunners in 57.1 innings.

    As to Pagliarulo's inside-the-park homerun, he blooped the ball down the left field line, and Tony Phillips overran it. Phillips then compounded his problem by thinking the ball landed foul, running all the way to the wall before stopping, and leaning into the crowd before turning to retrieve the ball still in play. "I guess Tony figured the Tigers had enough runs that he could give one back," Tom Kelly said about the play. Pagliarulo said he kept running because he "didn't know what the heck was going on."

    Milt Cuyler robbed Hrbek of a homerun in the second inning.

    Harper's twelve-game hitting streak ended.

    1. More on the inside-the-park homerun:

      The last in Tiger Stadium before this was from Gary Gaetti in 1987.

      The previous by a Twin was Gene Larkin. Like Pagliarulo, Larkin also hit a second homerun later in that game.

      Pagliarulo had not homered in his first 87 at bats as a Twin. He also somehow hadn't yet walked.

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