MINNESOTA 8, CLEVELAND 5 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Monday, June 10.
Batting stars: Shane Mack was 3-for-5 with two runs. Scott Leius was 2-for-2. Kent Hrbek was 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs, and two RBIs. Brian Harper was 2-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch. Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4. Dan Gladden was 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs.
Pitching star: Paul Abbott pitched four shutout innings, giving up three hits and no walks and striking out three.
Opposition stars: Felix Fermin was 4-for-5 with a double and a stolen base, his fourth. Mike Huff was 2-for-5 with a home run, two runs, and two RBIs. Luis Lopez was 2-for-4.
The game: Huff led off the game with a home run. The Twins got the run back in the bottom of the first when Gladden walked, went to second on a Mack single, and scored on a pair of sacrifice flies. The Indians responded with three in the second. Luis Lopez got a one-out single and went to second when Turner Ward walked. With two out, Huff had a two-run single-plus-error and Fermin had an RBI single, putting Cleveland ahead 4-1.
The Twins got a pair of one-out walks in the second, but a double play took them out of the inning. In the third, however, Mack and Puckett singled, putting men on first and third with none out. A force out brought home one run and singles by Chili Davis and Harper plated another, cutting the lead to 4-3. Another double play, however, took them out of the inning.
The Twins took the lead in the fifth. Puckett and Hrbek opened the inning with singles. With one out, Harper was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Mike Pagliarulo then delivered a three-run double, giving the Twins a 6-4 lead. It went to 8-4 in the sixth. It again started with a pair of singles, this time by Gladden and Mack. Sacrifice flies by Puckett and Davis followed.
Fermin created a run in the seventh. He singled, stole second, went to third on a fly ball, and scored on a ground out, making the score 8-5. The Indians threatened in the ninth. Alex Cole singled but was taken off the bases by a double play. With two out, Fermin doubled and Jerry Browne singled, bringing the tying run to the plate. Rick Aguilera then came in and retired Rick James on a deep fly ball to end the game.
WP: Abbott (1-0). LP: Eric King (4-5). S: Aguilera (16).
Notes: Al Newman started at second base in place of Chuck Knoblauch. Mack took the second spot in the batting order. Pagliarulo started at third base. Leius batted for him in the seventh inning and remained in the game at third base.
Harper raised his average to .336. Puckett raised his average to .323. Abbott lowered his ERA to 2.45. Aguilera lowered his ERA to 2.20. Terry Leach pitched 2.2 innings, giving up one run, to make his ERA 3.12.
Mark Guthrie started for the Twins and allowed four runs in two innings on five hits and a walk. He struck out two. King pitched 4.1 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and four walks. He struck out none.
This was not Abbott's longest relief stint--in fact, it's tied for third. Each of his next two appearances would be longer. It was, however, his longest scoreless appearance of the season.
Despite his four hits in this game, Felix Fermin was not a good batter. For his career he batted .259/.305/.303. He played for ten seasons and had over three thousand plate appearances, so one assumes he was a superior fielder. He was thought to have been one, anyway. His best offensive season was 1994, when he batted .317 in 411 plate appearances. That sounds impressive, and in a way it is, but because he rarely walked and had little power, his OPS was still only .718. That was the only season he got over. 700. The next year he batted .195, and the following year he was done. You'd have thought that, as a light-hitting shortstop, he might have been a good base stealer, but you'd have been wrong. His high in stolen bases was six, in 1989. For his career, he was 27-for-48 in stolen bases. b-r.com says that his "main claim to fame in the US is that he was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Seattle Mariners in return for Omar Vizquel, in what was arguably the worst trade in Mariners history." He did, however, become a successful manager in the Mexican League, winning a league championship in 2007.
The Twins had now won nine a row and had swept series from Baltimore and Cleveland. They were continuing to climb the standings. Next, the Twins would host the Yankees. The Yankees of this era were not "The Yankees", but they were still about a .500 team at this stage of the season.
Record: The Twins were 32-25, in third place in the American League West, three games behind Oakland. They were a half game behind second-place California and 1.5 games ahead of fourth-place Seattle.