KANSAS CITY 4, MINNESOTA 1 IN KANSAS CITY
Date: Friday, May 31.
Batting star: Junior Ortiz was 1-for-1 with a double.
Pitching star: Steve Bedrosian pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.
Opposition stars: Bret Saberhagen pitched a complete game, giving up one run on four hits and one walk and striking out four. Jim Eisenreich was 2-for-4 with a double. Brian McRae was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his sixth. Mike Macfarlane was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fifth.
The game: Kent Hrbek hit a triple with two out in the first but was stranded at third base. Macfarlane started the scoring in the second, leading off the inning with a home run. The Twins tied it in the third. Ortiz led off with a double and went to third on a Scott Leius single. Oritz apparently injured himself running the bases, because Brian Harper then pinch-ran for him and scored on an Al Newman sacrifice fly, tying the score 1-1.
The Royals got the lead back in the fourth. George Brett and Eisenreich opened the inning with back-to-back doubles, giving Kansas City the lead, and Kevin Seitzer delivered a one-out RBI single to make it 3-1. The Royals added one more in the seventh on singles by Warren Cromartie, Terry Shumpert, and McRae.
The Twins got only one hit after the third inning, a single by Al Newman in the sixth. Their last eleven batters were retired.
WP: Saberhagen (6-3). LP: Kevin Tapani (2-6). S: None.
Notes: Dan Gladden was again out of the lineup, with Pedro Munoz in left. Greg Gagne moved up to the leadoff spot. Newman was at second base in place of Chuck Knoblauch and batted second. Shane Mack was in center in place of Kirby Puckett. Gene Larkin was in right field. Ortiz started at catcher, but as mentioned above, he came out in the third inning and was replaced by Harper.
Harper went 0-for-2 and dropped his average to .339. Gagne was 0-for-4 and was batting .311.
Leius was 1-for-3 and raised his average to .182.
Tapani pitched seven innings, but allowed four runs on nine hits and no walks and struck out three. It was his fourth consecutive start with a game score below fifty. He hadn't had one above sixty since April 27. For the month of May he went 0-6, 5.35, 1.45 WHIP. He would come back to have a fine June and pitch well the rest of the season. He had only nine losses on the year, and six of them came in May.
Facing a fine pitcher in Bret Saberhagen, TK sat out Knoblauch, Puckett, Gladden, and Harper. There may have been strategic reasons for this, but it also strikes me that the manager might have thought this was one they weren't likely to win anyway, and so he might as well give some of his regulars a rest.
I have zero recollection of Warren Cromartie as a Kansas City Royal. I remember him as a good outfielder for the Expos, for whom he played in parts of nine seasons. He actually was drafted by the Twins once, in 1972, but he did not sign. He was never a great player, but he was a solid contributor. From 1977 to 1981 he batted between .275 and .304. He stayed with Montreal through 1983, then played for seven seasons in Japan. He did well there, posting an OPS over .800 in every year except his last, when it was .798. Four of those years his OPS was over .900 and in two of them it was over 1.000. He came back to the US in 1991 and did pretty well as a bench player, batting .313 with an OPS of .801, but in just 148 plate appearances. He retired after the season. In more recent years, he has been involved in trying to bring major league baseball back to Montreal, and on a personal note, I hope he succeeds.
Record: The Twins were 23-25, in fifth place in the American League West, just two percentage points ahead of sixth-place Chicago. They trailed first-place Texas by 5.5 games and trailed fourth-place Seattle by two games.