TEXAS 8, MINNESOTA 6 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Sunday, May 28.
Batting stars: Kirby Puckett was 3-for-5 with a stolen base (his fourth) and two RBIs. John Moses was 2-for-2 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base (his seventh). Al Newman was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, a stolen base (his seventh), two runs, and two RBIs. Randy Bush was 2-for-3 with a home run (his fifth), a walk, and two runs.
Pitching star: Shane Rawley pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits and four walks and striking out four.
Opposition stars: Rafael Palmeiro was 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Jeff Kunkel was 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk, and two runs. Julio Franco was 2-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, and two RBIs.
The game: The Twins let this one get away. The Rangers scored first, as Kunkel led off the game with a double and scored on Palmeiro's single. The Twins got the run back in the bottom of the first, as Newman led off with a double and scored on Jim Dwyer's single. The Twins took the lead in the second. Bush singled, Moses walked, and Newman singled, putting the Twins up 2-1.
It went to 4-1 in the fourth. Moses hit a one-out double and stole third. Newman walked and stole second. With two out, Puckett delivered a two-run single. The Twins added another run in the sixth. Tim Laudner walked, was bunted to second, went to third on a passed ball, and scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1 Twins.
The Rangers got one back in the seventh, and it came exactly as had their run in the first--Kunkel doubled and Palmeiro singled. But Bush homered in the eighth to make it 6-2 Twins going to the ninth inning. Things looked good for the Twins.
It wasn't to be. Steve Shields (be honest--do you remember that the Twins had Steve Shields?), who had come in to start the eighth, remained in the game to start the ninth. He retired the first batter, then game up a single to Cecil Espy. Espy stole second, but Jeff Stone struck out. The Twins just needed one more out to win the game. Scott Fletcher hit an RBI single, making the score 6-3, but Jeff Reardon came in, needing to record just one out with the tying run still in the on-deck circle. He wouldn't get it. Palmeiro singled, Ruben Sierra had an RBI double, Julio Franco had a two-run double to tie it, and Rick Leach had an RBI single to put Texas ahead. Tom Kelly finally brought in Lee Tunnell (be honest--do you remember that the Twins had Lee Tunnell?), who gave up an RBI single to Pete Incaviglia before finally getting the third out of the inning.
The Twins did try to rally in the ninth. Dan Gladden and Puckett singled, putting the tying run on base with none out, but again, it wasn't to be. A fly out, a strikeout and a foul out ended the game.
WP: Cecilio Guante (2-3). LP: Reardon (0-2). S: Jeff Russell (10).
Notes: Laudner was at catcher, of course. Brian Harper had become the regular by 1979, but Laudner still got plenty of playing time, catching 68 games. Gene Larkin was at first base in place of Kent Hrbek, who was out with an injury. Newman was at shortstop in place of Greg Gagne. Moses was in left in place of Dan Gladden.
Gagne came in for defense in the ninth. Newman moved to second and Wally Backman came out of the game. Gladden came in for defense in the ninth as well. Moses moved to right and Bush came out of the game. Carmelo Castillo pinch-hit for Gagne in the ninth.
Puckett was leading the team in batting at .333. He would finish at .339. Moses was batting .325. He would finish at .281. Harper, who didn't play in this game, batted .325. Dwyer was batting .295. He would finish at .316. On the other end of the scale, Laudner was batting .196. He would finish at .222. The Twins were second in batting at .276, just behind Boston at .277.
Home runs, again, were another story. Hrbek led the team with 25. Gary Gaetti hit 19 and Bush 14. The Twins were tenth in home runs with 117, California led with 145.
This was the last season of Rawley's career, and as often happens it was not a very good one. He did well in this game, and actually did okay for the first half of the season, but he ended up 5-12, 5.21, 1.57 WHIP. Allan Anderson led the team in starts, and while he didn't match his 1988 season he was fine at 17-10, 3.80, 1.36 WHIP. Roy Smith was 10-6, 3.92, 1.34. Frank Viola was traded at the July deadline--he was 8-12, 3.79, 1.24 at the time. Rick Aguilera came over in that trade and did well, going 3-5, 3.21, 1.16 in eleven starts. The other pitcher to make double digit starts was Mike Dyer, who went 4-7, 4.82, 1.56. The stalwarts of the bullpen were Reardon (5-4, 4.07, 1.10, 31 saves), Juan Berenguer (9-3, 3.48, 1.35, 3 saves), and Gary Wayne (3-4, 3.30, 1.28, 1 save). The Twins pitched to a 4.28 ERA, which was twelfth in the league. Oakland led at 3.09. The Twins were eleventh in WHIP at 1.40. Oakland led there, too, at 1.24.
Dwyer was always one of my favorite players, in that odd way that a fan will take a liking to a player for no particular reason. I was very pleased when he came to the Twins at the end of his career, and he did pretty well for them in a limited role. I was also pleased when he became a long-time minor league coach and manager in the Twins organization.
It's probably just as well that we weren't doing game logs back in 1979. An epic meltdown like this--well, it wouldn't have been pretty.
This was the third of a four-game losing streak for the Twins.
Record: The Twins were 21-26, in sixth place in the American League West, 11 games behind Oakland. They would finish 80-82, in fifth place, 19 games behind Oakland.
The Rangers were 27-19, in fourth place in the American League West, 4.5 games behind Oakland. They would finish 83-79, in fourth place, 16 games behind Oakland.
Random record: The Twins are 46-46 in Random Rewind games.