KANSAS CITY 11, MINNESOTA 2 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Saturday, May 25.
Batting stars: Brian Harper was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Dan Gladden was 2-for-4 with a double. Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, his fourth.
Pitching star: Carl Willis pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.
Opposition stars: Kurt Stillwell was 4-for-5 with a home run (his second) and five RBIs. Kirk Gibson was 3-for-5 with a double, a stolen base (his sixth) and two runs. Danny Tartabull was 3-for-5 with a double, two runs, and three RBIs. George Brett was 2-for-3 with two walks and three runs. Carmelo Martinez was 2-for-4 with a walk. Mark Gubicza pitched 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on nine hits and no walks and striking out two. Jeff Montgomery struck out four in 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk.
The game: It was actually close most of the way. The Twins threatened twice in the early innings, getting a two-out double from Harper in the second and two-out singles from Gladden and Knoblauch in the third. The Royals threatened in the fourth, putting men on second and third with one out. But no one actually scored until the fifth. Greg Gagne got a one-out single, Gladden had an RBI double and took third on the throw home, and a passed ball put the Twins ahead 2-0.
That was as good as it would get for the Twins. Mark Guthrie had given up just four harmless singles in the first five innings and retired the first two men in the sixth. But then Gibson singled, Brett walked, and Tartabull and Mike Macfarlane had RBI singles to tie the score. Terry Leach, who had been pitching very well, gave up RBI singles to Martinez and Stillwell and Kansas City suddenly had a 4-2 lead.
The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the sixth, but Gladden fanned. In the seventh the Royals added to their lead. Gibson doubled, Brett was intentionally walked, and Tartabull delivered a two-run double to make the score 6-2. Kansas City added five in the ninth to put the game away, with a grand slam by Stillwell sealing the Twins' fate.
WP: Gubicza (1-2). LP: Guthrie (3-3). S: None.
Notes: Pedro Munoz was in right field. Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Gladden in the ninth. Scott Leius pinch-hit for Hrbek in the ninth.
Harper was now batting .373. Kirby Puckett was 1-for-5 and was batting .327. Chili Davis was 1-for-4 and was at .308. Munoz was 1-for-4 and was also batting .308. Leach was charged with two runs in one inning, but still had an ERA of 2.95.
Guthrie was charged with four runs in 5.2 innings, giving up seven hits and one walk and striking out six.
Larry Casian pitched the ninth and gave up all five runs, making his ERA 7.36. That was his last appearance for the Twins in 1991, as he spent the rest of the season in AAA Portland. He would not return to the majors until September of 1992, but he would have a fine year for the Twins in 1993. He also played for Cleveland, the Cubs, Kansas City, and the White Sox in a career that spanned nine seasons.
For some reason the Royals used two pitchers to get through the ninth inning. Mark Davis came in to start the inning and retired the only man he faced. Dan Schatzeder then came in to finish the game. I'm sure there was some reason for that, but I have no idea what it is. And while I don't remember, I strongly suspect that when each pitcher came in, John Gordon solemnly stated that "this is not a save situation".
It's kind of cool that Gladden scored the Twins' second run on a Dazzle Special.
I had completely forgotten that Kirk Gibson was a Kansas City Royal. 1991 was his only season with the team, and it was nothing special: .236/.341/.403. He was traded to Pittsburgh for 1992 but batted just .196 in sixteen games and was released in early May. He sat out the rest of the season and then returned to Detroit, where his career had begun. He had a few good seasons for the Tigers as a part-time player before calling it quits following the 1995 season.
Danny Tartabull has been largely forgotten now, but he was a darn good batter for several years. He got his first regular playing time with Seattle in 1986 and posted an OPS of .836 with 25 home runs. That was only good for fifth in Rookie of the Year voting, and while one could argue that he should have finished higher the guys who beat him out were pretty good, too--Jose Canseco, Wally Joyner, Mark Eichhorn, and Cory Snyder. The Mariners traded him to Kansas City after the season and he stayed there for five years. In each of those years he had an OPS of over .800 and two of them were over .900. His best season with the Royals was his last one, which is the season we're dealing with, 1991. He batted .316 with 35 homers, led the league in slugging at .593, and had an OPS of .990. Oddly, for all of his good offensive seasons, 1991 was the only time he made the all-star team. He became a free agent after the season and went to the Yankees, where he had three more solid seasons. He slumped in 1995 and was traded to Oakland, but came back to have a solid 1996 season for the White Sox. That was about it for him, though. He signed with Philadelphia for 1997 but broke his foot in the first game of the season. He played in three games, going 0-for-7, then went on the DL and never played again. For his career, he batted .273/.368/.496 with 262 home runs in just over 5000 at-bats. As you probably know, his dad is former major league outfielder Jose Tartabull. He supposedly had a bad attitude, and he's had legal problems since leaving baseball, but he was one of the best batters around for several seasons.
The Twins had lost five of their last six and seven of their last ten.
Record: The Twins were 20-22, in sixth place in the American League West, 5.5 games behind Texas. They were a half game behind fifth-place Chicago.