MINNESOTA 3, BOSTON 2 IN BOSTON
Date: Tuesday, April 18.
Batting stars: Lenny Green was 4-for-4 with a stolen base, his second. Jim Lemon was 2-for-4 with a home run and a double.
Pitching stars: Jim Kaat pitched 7.1 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits and three walks and striking out six. Bill Pleis pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a walk and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Dave Hillman pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and a walk. Pumpsie Green was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
The game: In the first, Green singled, went to third on a stolen-base-plus-error, and scored on a Bob Allison single to put the Twins up 1-0. In the third, Zoilo Versalles singled, was bunted to second, and scored on a Don Mincher single to make it 2-0 Twins. It stayed there until the sixth, when Lemon homered to make it 3-0.
The Twins loaded the bases in the seventh but did not score. Still, the Red Sox had only one hit to this point, and the lead looked secure. In the eighth, however, Green doubled and Rip Repulski singled, putting men on first and third with none out. A ground out scored a run, Gary Geiger walked, and Jackie Jensen was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with two out. Frank Malzone grounded to short, but the ball was booted by Versalles, allowing a run to score and cutting the margin to 3-2 with the bases still loaded and Carl Yastrzemski up to bat. He flied to center, however, ending the inning.
The Twins again left the bases loaded in the ninth, so the lead remained just one. Green drew a one-out walk, but Lou Clinton fanned and Chuck Schilling popped to short to end the game.
WP: Kaat (1-0). LP: Billy Muffett (0-1). S: Pleis (1).
Notes: Mincher was at first base in place of Harmon Killebrew, who missed a couple of weeks. Billy Gardner was the starting second baseman at this point in the season, but would be replaced later by Billy Martin, who the Twins acquired in a trade for Billy Consolo. Reno Bertoia was the starting third baseman at this point, but would be traded for Bill Tuttle, who would take his place at third.
The only non-pitcher substitute was Dan Dobbek, going in to replace Lemon in left field in the eighth inning.
This early in the season there are always extreme batting averages. Versalles was batting .429--he would finish at .280. Allison was batting .375--he would finish at .245. Green raised his average to .304--he would finish at .285. Earl Battey, who was batting just .211 at this point, would lead the team with an average of .302.
On the other end, Bertoia was batting .150. He would leave the Twins with an average of .212.
Killebrew would lead the team in home runs with 46. Allison was second with 29, followed by Battey (17) and Lemon (14). The Twins were fourth in home runs in the ten-team league.
The Twins rotation in 1961 was Pedro Ramos (11-20, 3.95), Camilo Pascual (15-16, 3.46), Jack Kralick (13-11, 3.61), and Kaat (9-17, 3.90). Ray Moore led in saves with 14. Ramos, who led the team in starts with 34, also had two saves.
Muffett, who started for Boston, pitched six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and a walk and striking out none. He would go on to go 3-11, 5.67. He played from 1957-1962. He had good years in 1957 (3-2, 2.25, 1.09 WHIP in 23 relief appearances (44 innings)) and 1960 (6-4, 3.24, 1.22 WHIP in 11 starts and 27 relief appearances (112.2 innings)). In the other years, though, he was not good at all. His next lowest season ERA was 4.93 in 1958 and his next lowest WHIP was 1.47 in 1961. For his career, he was 16-23, 4.33, 1.43 WHIP. He was in 125 games, 32 of them starts, and pitched 376.1 innings. He went into coaching after that, and continued to be a major league coach through 1994.
The Twins were off to a fine start in their inaugural season. I suspect this fueled some high hopes, which were ultimately to be dashed.
Record: The Twins were 5-1, in first place in the American League, one game ahead of Cleveland. They would finish 70-90, in seventh place, 38 games behind New York.
The Red Sox were 2-2, in fifth place in the American League, two games behind Minnesota. They would finish 76-86, in sixth place, 33 games behind New York.
Random Record: The Twins are 34-27 in Random Rewind games.