MINNESOTA 2, CLEVELAND 1 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Saturday, June 8.
Batting stars: Kirby Puckett was 1-for-2 with two walks. Dan Gladden was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
Pitching star: Scott Erickson pitched 8.2 innings, giving up one run on nine hits and two walks and striking out seven. He threw 115 pitches.
Opposition stars: Alex Cole was 3-for-4 with a walk. Chris James was 2-for-4 with a double. Charles Nagy pitched 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on six hits and five walks and striking out four.
The game: The Twins put men on first and second in the first, but a strikeout and a ground out ended the inning. Gladden led off with a double in the third but could not get past third base. Mark Lewis led off with a double in the sixth but also could not get past third base.
The Twins finally got on the board in the sixth. With one out, Puckett singled, Kent Hrbek walked, and Chili Davis delivered an RBI double to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. They added another run in the seventh. Gladden drew a one-out walk and went to second on a ground out. Puckett was intentionally walked, but Hrbek came through with a single to make the score 2-0.
The Indians rallied in the ninth. Erickson retired the first two batters, but James singled, Jerry Browne singled, and Turner Ward drove home a run with a single to cut the lead to 2-1. Rick Aguilera came in and walked Cole to load the bases, but Lewis flied to right to end the game.
WP: Scott Erickson (9-2). LP: Nagy (2-6). S: Aguilera (15).
Notes: Gene Larkin was the right fielder, replacing Shane Mack. Mack came in for defense in the ninth inning. With Erickson pitching, Lenny Webster was the catcher rather than Brian Harper.
Puckett raised his average to .326. Greg Gagne was 1-for-4 and was batting .308. Davis was 1-for-4 and was batting .303. Erickson's ERA went to 1.53. Aguilera lowered his ERA to 2.22.
In twelve starts so far, Erickson had not pitched fewer than 6.1 innings or thrown fewer than 84 pitches in a game. He also had only one game score below fifty.
Nagy was in the second year of his career. This was his twelfth start, too, and Cleveland was 3-9 in his starts. It wasn't his fault--in the nine losses, the Indians scored a total of seventeen runs. Twice they were shut out. In one of the victories they scored two runs and in another they scored one. It's hard to get wins with that kind of run support.
Jesse Orosco pitched in both yesterday's game and in this one. He was already a veteran, in the twelfth year of his career at age thirty-four. He would, of course, pitch twelve more years, including appearing in eight games with the Twins in 2003.
This was the Twins' seventh consecutive win. Again, the streak was driven by pitching--the Twins had scored just 27 runs (less than four per game) but had allowed just fourteen (two per game). They continued to move up in the standings, as you'll see below.
Record: The Twins were 30-25, in third place in the American League West, three games behind Oakland. They were 1.5 games behind second-place California and a half game ahead of fourth-place Seattle.