Random Rewind: 1964, Game One Hundred Twenty


Date:  Sunday, August 16.

Batting stars:  Zoilo Versalles was 3-for-5 with a home run (his fourteenth), a stolen base (his eleventh), and four RBIs.  Tony Oliva was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and three runs.  Bob Allison was 2-for-4 with a walk, a stolen base (his seventh), and two RBIs.  Rich Rollins was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs.  Don Mincher was 2-for-5 with a double.  Jerry Kindall was 2-for-5.  Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer (his forty-second), a walk, and two runs.

Pitching star:  Mudcat Grant pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on six hits and a walk and striking out three.

Opposition stars:  Sonny Siebert pitched six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and no walks and striking out five.  Chico Salmon was 2-for-4 with a double.  Woodie Held was 1-for-1 with a two-run homer, his sixteenth.

The game:  It was close most of the way.  Versalles started the scoring by leading off the third inning with a home run.  In the fourth Oliva led off with a double and Killebrew hit a two-run homer to make it 3-0.

It stayed 3-0 until the seventh.  The Indians had four hits, but never more than one in an inning.  The Twins put the game away in the seventh inning.  Grant walked and scored from first on a two-out double from Rollins.  Oliva was intentionally walked and Killebrew was accidentally walked to load the bases.  Mincher hit a two-run single.  Allison then walked to re-load the bases.  Versalles hit a two-run single, and with men on first and third Allison and Versalles pulled off a double steal of second and home, making the score 9-0.

Cleveland got on the board in the eighth.  Joe Azcue singled and Held hit a two-run homer.  The Twins got the runs back with interest in the bottom of the eighth.  Grant led off with a double, followed by singles by Jerry KindallRollins, and Oliva.  A couple of popups followed, but then Allison had a two-run single and Versalles had an RBI single, making the final score 13-2.

WP:  Grant (10-9).  LP:  Siebert (3-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Jerry Zimmerman was behind the plate in place of Earl Battey, who missed five or six games.  Allison usually played first base in 1964, but he was in right field in this game, with Mincher at first.  Oliva, normally in right field, was in center in place of Jimmie Hall, who appears to just have been given the day off.  Kindall was at second base in place of Bernie Allen, who was battling injuries.  Hall came in to play center in the ninth, with Oliva moving to right, Allison to left, and Killebrew, who had been in left, leaving the game.

Oliva was the only Twin over .300, at .339.  He finished at .323.  This was his rookie season and, as you probably know, he was Rookie of the Year.  It's interesting that he was inserted into the third spot in the order very early in the season, after batting second 33 times.  It's rare these days to see a rookie put in an important batting order spot like that--I don't know if it was more common then.

Grant had only been with the Twins for a couple of months at this point.  He was acquired at the June trade deadline for George Banks and Lee Stange.  He would be instrumental in the Twins AL Championship team in 1965.  While Stange went on to have some good years, I think it's fair to see the Twins came out well on that trade.

Despite his good day at the plate, Grant falls into the "good hitter for a pitcher" category, rather than actually being a good hitter.  His numbers were .178/.216/.240. in 853 plate appearances.

It's interesting that the Twins chose to play Killebrew in left field and Allison primarily at first base, rather than the other way around.  Not that Allison won any Gold Gloves, but I have to think that he covered more ground in the outfield than Killebrew.  Harmon had played well over a hundred games at first in his career at this point, so it's not like he was unfamiliar with the position.

Record:  The Twins were 59-60, in sixth place in the American League, 14.5 games behind Baltimore.  They would finish 79-83, tied for sixth with Cleveland, 20 games behind New York.

The Indians were 54-64, in seventh place in the American League, 19 games behind Baltimore.  They would finish 79-83, tied for sixth with Minnesota, 20 games behind New York.

And you say, this was game 120, but the Twins record was 59-60.  59 plus 60 is only 119.  What gives?  Well, the Twins played 163 games in 1964.  Their game on June 22 with Cleveland was a ten-inning tie.  I guess it's fitting that two teams that ended up tied would play a tie game.