OAKLAND 7, MINNESOTA 0 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Tuesday, September 10.
Batting star: Chuck Knoblauch was 1-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base, his thirty-ninth.
Pitching star: Scott Klingenbeck struck out two in two shutout innings.
Opposition stars: Dave Telgheder pitched a complete game shutout, giving up three hits and three walks and striking out seven. Mike Bordick was 3-for-5 with a double and a stolen base, his fifth. Brian Lesher was 2-for-4 with two runs. Tony Batista was 2-for-5 with a walk and a stolen base, his sixth. Jason Giambi was 2-for-5. Ernie Young was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his seventeenth.
The game: The Twins put two on in the first, but a double play took them out of the inning. The Athletics started the scoring in the second when Lesher singled, went to second on a passed ball, and scored on a Bordick double. Oakland increased its lead in the fourth. Singles by Giambi, Bordick, and Tony Batista plated one run, Scott Brosius walked to load the bases, and a sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
Todd Walker doubled leading off the fourth but did not advance. The Athletics put the game away in the fifth. They opened the inning with walks to Terry Steinbach and Lesher, and with one out Young hit a three-run homer to give Oakland a 6-0 lead. They added one more in the sixth when Steinbach walked and Lesher and Giambi singled.
The Twins had only three hits. Their last came in the sixth, when Rich Becker singled. He got as far as third base, but that was it.
WP: Telgheder (3-6). LP: Rich Robertson (7-14). S: None.
Notes: Matt Walbeck was the catcher. He shared catching duties with Greg Myers in 1996, with Myers playing in the majority of games.
Walker was the third baseman. Dave Hollins was the regular third baseman most of the season, but he was traded at the August deadline. Walker came up and was immediately given the third base job for the rest of the season. He would, of course, play second base for most of his major league career.
Brent Brede went to right field in the eighth in place of Matt Lawton. Mike Durant went behind the plate in the eighth in place of Walbeck. Chip Hale pinch-hit for Pat Meares in the eighth. Denny Hocking then went in to play short in the ninth.
Walker, in limited at-bats, was batting .343. He would finish at .256. Paul Molitor, at age thirty-nine, was batting .340. He would finish at .341. Knoblauch was batting .339. He would also finish at .341. Marty Cordova was batting .306. He would finish at .309. Part-time outfielder Roberto Kelly would bat .323 in 322 at-bats.
So with all those .300 hitters, did the Twins have an exceptional offense in 1996? Not really. They were tied for second in team batting average at .288, but only eighth in runs scored with 877. The biggest reason, as you may have guessed, was a lack of power. They finished dead last in the league in home runs with 118. The team leader was Cordova with 16. They had five others in double figures: Scott Stahoviak (13), Knoblauch (13), Hollins (13), Becker (12), and Ron Coomer (12).
Robertson lasted 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and six walks and striking out two. He would finish 7-17, 5.12. Of their five most used starters, only one, Brad Radke, had an ERA under five. The others were Frankie Rodriguez (5.05), Scott Aldred (5.09), and Rick Aguilera (5.42). Aguilera had re-signed with the Twins on the condition that they give him the chance to start. Dave Stevens was the closer at the start of the year. When he couldn't do the job, they went closer by committee for a while and finally gave the job to Mike Trombley at the end of the season.
This was the only shutout of Dave Telgheder's career. It was also the only complete game of his career. As a starter for his career, he was 14-18, 5.39, 1.58 WHIP. That's the pitcher who shut down the Twins in this game. Yes, it's baseball, and it happens, but it happens to you a lot more when you're not very good.
Record: The Twins were 72-72, in third place in the American League Central, 13.5 games behind Cleveland. They would finish 78-84, in fourth place, 21.5 games behind Cleveland.
The Athletics were 71-75, in third place in the American League West, 13 games behind Texas. They would finish 78-84, in third place, 12 games behind Texas.