KANSAS CITY 2, MINNESOTA 1 IN KANSAS CITY
Date: Thursday, April 24.
Batting stars: A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-3. Torii Hunter was 2-for-4.
Pitching star: Brad Radke pitched an eight-inning complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and one walk and striking out four.
Opposition stars: Chris George pitched six innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks and striking out three. Jason Grimsley pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out one. Carlos Febles was 2-for-3 with a stolen base. Mike Sweeney was 1-for-2 with a home run (his fourth) and a stolen base.
The game: The Twins got a pair of one-out singles in the first but did not score. Neither team threatened after that until the fourth, when Sweeney hit a two-out home run to put the Royals up 1-0. The Twins tied it in the sixth with a two-out rally: Bobby Kielty walked and singles by Corey Koskie and Hunter plated the run.
Kansas City went back in front in the bottom of the sixth. Febles led off with a single and scored from first on a one-out double by Joe Randa.
And that was it. The Royals did not get a man on base after the sixth, but it didn't matter. The Twins got a couple of singles, but never advanced a man past first base.
WP: George (3-1). LP: Radke (1-3). S: Mike MacDougal (9).
Notes: Michael Cuddyer was again in right field. Kielty was again the DH. There were no in-game lineup substitutions.
Kielty was 1-for-3 with a walk and was batting .340. Cuddyer was 0-for-3 and was batting .193.
Radke lowered his ERA to 6.28. This was the first of three complete games Radke had in 2003. He had 37 for his career. By game scores this was his second-best game of the season, topped only by a complete game shutout on August 26.
After a lowpoint of .111 on April 11, Hunter finally climbed above the Mendoza line to stay at .216. It seems like he was pretty hot-and-cold in 2003, posting averages by month of :.217, .269, .273, .229, .233, and .284. On thinking about it, though, I wonder just how unusual that really is. Everyone bounces up and down over the course of a season--how much variance is "normal" and how much is "unusual"? I don't really know.
I kind of remember Joe Randa as a Twins killer, but he really wasn't. He batted .275/.315/.404 for his career against the Twins and .264/.293/.431 against them in 2003. His overall career numbers are .284/.339/.426, so he actually was worse against the Twins than against the rest of MLB. Maybe I just remember a few big hits he got or something.
I didn't actually go through his whole career to check, but this has to be one of the best games Chris George ever pitched. By game scores it was the second-best of the season, topped only by his first game of the season, when he pitched 6.2 innings and also gave up one run on five hits. He made eighteen starts in 2003 and had an ERA of 7.11 with a WHIP of 1.75. Somehow he went 9-6, which is probably why he was allowed to make 18 starts. It's not like this was just a bad year--for his career he was 14-20, 6.48, 1.66 WHIP in 237.1 innings (47 games, 44 starts). His "best" season was his first one, 2001, when he went 4-8, 5.59, 1.37 WHIP in 13 starts. In his defense, he was rushed to the majors at age 21 on the strength of 18 AA starts in which he went 8-5, 3.14, but with a WHIP of 1.47. He was on the Omaha/Kansas City shuttle from 2001--2004, spent all of 2005 in Omaha, then became a free agent. He was with several organizations after that, but never made it to the majors. Would more time in the minors when he was younger have helped? It's hard to say. It wouldn't have hurt, but at the same time, his career AAA numbers are 66-73, 4.95, 1.52 WHIP in 1223 innings. It seems more likely that he just was never that good in the first place.
This made six losses in a row for the Twins, and was the seventh series sweep they'd been involved in at the start of the season.
Record: The Twins were 9-12, in third place in the American League Central, eight games behind Kansas City.