MINNESOTA 8, BALTIMORE 4 IN BALTIMORE
Date: Wednesday, June 19.
Batting stars: Mike Pagliarulo was 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch. Kent Hrbek was 2-for-5 with a double. Chili Davis was 1-for-5 with a three-run homer, his sixteenth.
Pitching star: Jack Morris pitched a complete game, giving up four runs on six hits and three walks and striking out six.
Opposition stars: Jeff Robinson pitched 7.2 innings, giving up three runs on five hits and no walks and striking out five. David Segui was 2-for-3. Leo Gomez was 1-for-2 with a two-run homer (his third), two walks, and two runs.
The game: The Twins again jumped out to an early lead with a two-out first inning rally. Kirby Puckett was hit by a pitch, Hrbek singled, and Davis hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. The Twins threatened to blow it open early, as in the second they put men on second and third with one out, but a short fly ball and a strikeout ended the threat. The failure allowed the Orioles to get back into the game, as Joe Orsulak drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the second and Gomez followed with a two-run homer, cutting the lead to 3-2.
Baltimore threatened to tie it in the fifth, as Gomez led off with a walk and Segui singled, but a long fly out and a double play ended the threat. The Orioles did more than threaten in the seventh. With one out Orsulak singled and Gomez walked. Consecutive RBI singles by Segui and Ernie Whitt put Baltimore ahead 4-3. The score remained there through eight innings.
But in the ninth the Twins came back, with plenty of help from the Orioles. They began the inning with singles by Brian Harper, Gene Larkin, and Pagliarulo to tie it 4-4. With one out, a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, resulting in an intentional walk to Randy Bush. A wild pitch-plus-error scored two runs and yet another wild pitch scored a third run, making the score 7-4. Shane Mack then singled and scored from first on Puckett's single, making it 8-4. Baltimore went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
WP: Morris (9-5). LP: Olson (0-3). S: None.
Notes: Al Newman replaced Chuck Knoblauch at second base, and his .286 OBP was placed in the leadoff spot. He went 0-for-4. Mack was in left in place of Dan Gladden and batted second. Pedro Munoz started in right.
The Twins made a bunch of changes in the ninth inning. Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Munoz. Knoblauch then pinch-ran for Larkin and went to second base. Gladden pinch-ran for Harper and stayed in the game in left field, with Mack moving to right. Bush pinch-hit for Newman.
Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .344. Puckett was 1-for-4 and was batting .328.
As I go through Morris' games, I wonder if Tom Kelly was a little intimidated by him. Maybe not, maybe Kelly just had that much confidence in him. But Morris was allowed to stay in games much longer than any other pitcher would have been, even in 1991, and this is one example of that. Morris had pitched well for six innings and the Twins led 3-2. He struck out the first batter he faced, but then he gave up a hit. Then he walked a batter. His pitch count was approaching a hundred. But he stayed in the game. Then he gave up another hit, tying the score and putting men on first and third. Still, he stayed in the game. He gave up another hit, losing the lead. Still, he stayed in the game. He got a double play to end the inning, then cruised through the eighth and ninth. The Twins came back and won, so it worked out, but there's no other pitcher who would've been allowed to stay in the game through the seventh inning.
This was Davis' seventh home run in June. He would go on to hit ten in June, more than a third of his season total and twice as many as he would hit in any other month. His other June numbers were not particularly outstanding--in June he batted .253/.345/.596, his season numbers were .277/.385/.507. I don't know that we can contribute his June homers to anything but coincidence, but it's kind of interesting.
The Twins had now won seventeen of eighteen and twenty of twenty-two.
Record: The Twins were 40-26, in first place in the American League West, 1.5 games ahead of Oakland.