1991 Rewind: Game Fifty-two


Date:  Tuesday, June 4.

Batting stars:  Brian Harper was 3-for-5 with a double.  Scott Leius was 2-for-4.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5 with a home run, his seventh.  Dan Gladden was 2-for-5 with two stolen bases, his third and fourth.

Pitching stars:  Terry Leach retired all five men he faced.  Steve Bedrosian pitched two shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk.  Carl Willis pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Cal Ripken was 3-for-5 with two doubles.  Chris Hoiles was 2-for-4 with a double.  Joe Orsulak was 2-for-4.  Mike Devereaux was 2-for-5.  Mark Williamson struck out three in three shutout innings, giving up two hits and a walk.  Mike Flanagan pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

The game:  Puckett homered in the first inning, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead.  In the bottom of the first, Dwight Evans drew a one-out walk.  With two out, Orsulak singled and Bob Melvin walked, loading the bases.  Bill Ripken then delivered a two-run single to put the Orioles up 2-1.

The lead didn't last long.  With two out in the second Leius singled, Greg Gagne tripled, and Gladden singled, giving the Twins a 3-2 advantage.  It stayed 3-2 until the fifth, when Devereaux singled and scored on a one-out double by Cal Ripken.

Each team threatened to take the lead, but neither could through the ninth inning.  In the fifth, Gladden singled, stole second, and went to third on a wild pitch with two out.  Hoiles hit a leadoff double in the sixth.  The Twins got two singles in the eighth, putting men on first and third with two out.  The Orioles got two singles in the ninth, putting men on first and second with two out.  But it was still 3-3 until the tenth.

Cal Ripken led off the tenth with a double and Randy Milligan walked.  Willis came in to get a fly out and a double play to end the threat.  In the bottom of the tenth, the first two Twins were retired.  Harper then singled, Kent Hrbek walked, and Randy Bush delivered a pinch-hit single to end the game.

WP:  Willis (2-1).  LP:  Gregg Olson (0-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Shane Mack started in right field, the first time he had done so since May 18.  He would remain a regular the rest of the season.  Most of that time would be in right field, but he shifted to left for about a month when Gladden was out.

Pedro Munoz pinch-ran for Harper in the tenth and scored the winning run.  Bush pinch-hit for Mack in the tenth.

Puckett raised his average to .335.  Harper went up to .333.  Gagne was 1-for-3 and was batting .317.  Leach lowered his ERA to 3.09.  Willis dropped his ERA to 3.22.

With his pinch-hit, Bush raised his average to .189.

Mike Flanagan, of course, had been a fine starting pitcher for many years, winning the Cy Young award in 1979.  He was near the end of his career in 1991.  In fact, he had been released by Toronto in May of 1990 and had not been picked up by anyone the rest of the season.  Baltimore, where he'd had his best seasons, gave him a spring training invitation.  Whether that was out of sentiment or a belief that he could still pitch, it worked out well for the Orioles.  Flanagan had a fine year in relief, posting and ERA of 2.38 and a WHIP of 1.11.  It was the last good year he would have.  He pitched again in 1992 but did not do well and his career ended.

This was the fourth win in a row for the Twins.  They had won four in a row in May, of course, and then went on to lose nine of their next twelve.  Would that happen again?

Record:  The Twins were 27-25 in the American League West, in fifth place, 4.5 games behind Oakland.  They were two games ahead of sixth-place Chicago and a game behind fourth-place Seattle.