1991 Rewind: Game Sixty-one

MINNESOTA 7, CLEVELAND 0 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Friday, June 14.

Batting stars:  Shane Mack was 3-for-4 with a grand slam (his fifth homer), a double, and five RBIs.  Brian Harper was 2-for-4.  Dan Gladden was 2-for-5.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his sixth.

Pitching stars:  Jack Morris pitched seven shutout innings, giving up three hits and five walks and striking out four.  He threw 120 pitches.  Carl Willis pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition star:  Jesse Orosco pitched a perfect inning.

The game:  The Twins put men on second and third with one out in the second, but did not score.  No problem.  In the third, Chuck Knoblauch drew a one-out walk and Hrbek followed with a two-out two-run homer, putting the Twins up 2-0.  The Indians got a couple of walks in the bottom of the third but did not score.  In the fourth, Randy Bush tripled and scored on Mack's single to make the score 3-0.

The Twins put the game out of reach in the fifth.  Kirby Puckett was hit by a pitch with one out.  With two out, Harper singled and Bush was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.  Cleveland starter Jeff Shaw was then replaced by Rod Nichols, whose first pitch was hit over the fence for a grand slam by Mack to make the score 7-0.

The Indians' biggest threat came in the sixth, when they put men on second and third with two out.  They also put two men on in the seventh.  But the shutout held and it was another victory for the Twins.

WP:  Morris (8-5).  LP:  Shaw (0-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Bush was the DH in place of Chili Davis.  The Twins made a number of defensive changes in the eighth inning.  Gene Larkin went to first base in place of Hrbek.  Al Newman went to second, replacing Knoblauch.  The two flip-flopped in the batting order, with Newman batting in Hrbek's spot and Larkin taking Knoblauch's spot.  Pedro Munoz replaced Puckett and went to right field, with Mack moving to center.

Harper raised his average to .335.  Puckett was 1-for-3 and went to .321.  Munoz was 0-for-1 and was batting .303.  Willis dropped his ERA to 2.81.

Bush was 1-for-3 to raise his average to .196.

Morris' ERA was 3.69, the lowest it had been all season.  One wonders if he tried to convince Tom Kelly to leave him in the game to pitch the eighth, even though the outcome was not in doubt and he had thrown 120 pitches.

This was the first major league appearance of the season for Jeff Shaw, and his only start of the season.  He would make one more start in 1992, make eight starts for Montreal in 1993 (and forty-seven relief appearances), then go to the bullpen for good.  He was really a fairly mediocre pitcher through 1995, but then he signed with Cincinnati and his career took off.  He went 8-6, 2.49, 1.22 WHIP with four saves in 1996.  He then became the closer and led the league in saves with 42 in 1997.  He stayed with Cincinnati until July 4, 1998, when he was traded to the Dodgers.  He stayed there and was their closer for the rest of his career.  He had a down season in 2000, but came back to make the all-star team in 2001.  There's no apparent reason he could not have pitched for at least a few more years, but he retired after the 2001 season instead.  He had 203 saves for his career and averaged 39 per season once he became a closer.  If he'd had three or four more good years, he might have had a case for the Hall of Fame.  He chose not to do that, though, there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

The Twins had now won thirteen in a row and sixteen out of seventeen.  That's pretty impressive.  How long could they keep it going?

Record:  The Twins were 36-25, in second place in the American League West, one game behind Oakland.  They were two games ahead of second place California.

3 thoughts on “1991 Rewind: Game Sixty-one”

  1. Jeff Shaw on his retirement:

    “I had a son who was going into middle school and those are crucial years,” Shaw said Thursday. “I didn’t want to be a parent from the other end of the telephone anymore. I wanted to be with the family and coach him and just be a dad. In my mind, I had felt like I had done enough.”

    [Orange County Register, 18 Oct 2018]

    His son? Travis Shaw.

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