KANSAS CITY 6, MINNESOTA 3 IN KANSAS CITY
Date: Saturday, May 20.
Batting stars: Rod Carew was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his fourth. Roy Smalley was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Willie Norwood was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, his twelfth.
Pitching stars: None.
Opposition stars: Freddie Patek was 4-for-4 with two stolen bases, his eighth and ninth. Hal McRae was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Amos Otis was 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, his eighth. George Brett was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. Clint Hurdle was 2-for-4 with a double. Rich Gale pitched 7.1 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and two walks and striking out one.
The game: Dan Ford drew a two-out walk in the first and scored from first on a Mike Cubbage double, putting the Twins up 1-0. That would be their only lead of the game.
The Royals loaded the bases in the second and did not score. In the third, however, Willie Wilson led off with a single, stole second, and scored on McRae's single. McRae went to second on the throw home and later scored on an Otis single, giving Kansas City a 2-1 lead.
The Twins got two singles and a walk in the fourth but failed to produce a run with them. It stayed 2-1 until the sixth, when Hurdle doubled and scored on Patek's single to make it 3-1. The Royals then took over in the seventh. McRae singled, George Brett doubled, and Al Cowens singled to make it 4-1. Otis walked to load the bases and Hurdle singled to give Kansas City a 5-1 advantage.
The Twins tried to get back into it in the eighth. Norwood singled and Carew hit a two-run homer, cutting the lead to 5-3. But the Twins gave a run back in the bottom of the sixth when Patek singled, stole second, and scored on McRae's double. In the ninth Jose Morales walked and Smalley doubled, bringing the tying run to the plate with none out. It came to nothing, however, as the next two batters fanned and a popup to the pitcher ended the game.
WP: Gale (4-0). LP: Paul Thormodsgard (1-6). S: Al Hrabosky (5).
Notes: Rob Wilfong was at second base. He platooned with Bobby Randall, kind of, but the right-handed Randall still got more playing time. One assumes Randall was considered the better defender, because there's not a lot to choose from offensively.
The Twins made liberal use of their bench, although it doesn't seem to have helped much. Rich Chiles pinch-hit for Wilfong in the eighth, with Randall coming in to play second. Larry Wolfe pinch-hit for Cubbage in the eighth and stayed in the game at third. Morales pinch-hit for Glenn Adams in the ninth. Bombo Rivera pinch-hit for Hosken Powell in the ninth. Craig Kusick pinch-hit for Randall in the ninth.
Carew was batting .397. He would falter, finishing the season at .333. Rivera was batting .341. He would finish at .271. Morales was batting .333. He would finish at .314. Cubbage was batting .321. He would finish at .282. The Twins finished fifth in batting at .267.
Smalley led the team in home runs with 19. The only other Twin in double figures was Dan Ford at 11. The Twins cleanup hitter in this game was Cubbage, who finished the season with 7 homers and a slugging average of .401. The Twins were dead last in home runs with 82, fifteen behind the next-to-last team.
Thormodsgard started and pitched 5.2 innings, giving up three runs on nine hits and a walk and striking out one. The Twins' rotation wasn't bad: Roger Erickson (14-13, 3.96), Geoff Zahn (14-14, 3.03), Dave Goltz (15-10, 2.49), and Gary Serum (9-9, 4.10). Thor was the odd man out at (1-6, 5.05), but he would be replaced by Darrell Jackson (4-6, 4.48).
It was kind of fun hearing the names of those great Royals players of the seventies.
Clint Hurdle is regarded as a first-round bust, and I guess he was, but it was because of injuries, not a lack of ability. In 1980, his age twenty-two season, he batted .294/.349/.458. He then suffered a back injury and was never again the same player. He was never able to play more than 78 games in a season and never had more than 184 plate appearances. Had it not been for the back injury, he could have had a tremendous career.
This was the fifth game of a stretch in which the Twins won seven of eight. Random.org gave us their only loss in that stretch.
Record: The Twins were 14-24, in fifth place in the American League West, 9.5 games behind Oakland. They would finish 73-89, in fourth place, 19 games behind Kansas City.
The Royals were 19-16, in third place in the American League West, 3 games behind Oakland. They would finish 92-70, in first place, 5 games ahead of California and Texas.
Random record: The Twins are 38-34 in Random Rewind games.