2003 Rewind: Game Eighty-eight


Date:  Tuesday, July 8.

Batting stars:  Luis Rivas was 2-for-3 with a stolen base, his eighth.  Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-5.

Pitching star:  Grant Balfour pitched three shutout innings, giving up a walk and striking out two.

Opposition stars:  Michael Young was 3-for-5 with two runs.  Kevin Mench was 2-for-2 with two doubles and a hit-by-pitch.  Todd Greene was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs.  Hank Blalock was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Rafael Palmeiro was 1-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-first) and a walk.  Juan Gonzalez was 1-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-first) and two RBIs.  Jay Powell pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

The game:  After a scoreless first, the Twins scored five runs in the second inning.  Bobby Kielty and Justin Morneau walked, Chris Gomez had an RBI single, and A. J. Pierzynski was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  A sacrifice fly scored a run, Lew Ford's double scored two more, and Mientkiewicz singled home another to give the Twins a 5-0 lead.

The lead lasted until the Rangers batted in the bottom of the second.  Palmeiro led off the inning with a home run.  The next two batters went out, but Mench and Mark Teixiera hit back-to-back doubles, Greene had an RBI single, Young singled and Blalock walked to load the bases, and Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run double to tie it 5-5.  Gonzalez homered leading off the third, and that quickly it was 6-5 Texas.

The Twins opened the fourth with singles, but nothing came of it.  The Rangers scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 7-5.  In the fifth, Greene doubled and scored on a Young single to increase the lead to 8-5.

The Twins did not threaten until the ninth.  Rivas led off with a single and stole second.  Mientkiewicz singled with one out to bring the tying run to the plate.  A sacrifice fly brought home a run, but it was the second out.  Torii Hunter walked to bring the winning run to the plate and a wild pitch moved the tying run into scoring position.  But Bobby Kielty lined to center to end the game.

WP:  Powell (2-0).  LP:  Kyle Lohse (6-7).  S:  Ugueth Urbina (25).

Notes:  Gomez was at short in place of Cristian Guzman.  Ford was in left in the continuing absence of Jacque Jones, with Kielty in right.  Morneau was the DH.

Matthew LeCroy pinch-hit for Morneau in the eighth.

Ford was 1-for-4 and was batting .314.  Mientkiewicz raised his average to .301.  LeCroy was 1-for-1 and was batting .300.

Lohse lasted just three innings and allowed seven runs on ten hits and a walk.  He struck out three.  Whatever magic he'd had early in the season was clearly gone:  in his last five starts, he had pitched 23 innings and allowed 29 earned runs.  His ERA went from 2.91 to 4.63.

The Texas starter was Tony Mounce.  He also pitched just three innings, allowing five runs on five hits and three walks and striking out none.  This was the only major league season of his career.  He made 11 starts and went 1-5, 7.11, 1.78 WHIP.  He was 3-10, 4.41, 1.56 WHIP in 149 AAA innings and 31-21, 4.26, 1.46 WHIP in 431 AA innings.  There was obviously something about him that the Rangers liked, but it's also obvious that he was just not good enough to be a major league pitcher.

The Twins had now lost three in a row and seven of eight.  Another loss would drop them below .500.

Record:  The Twins were 44-44, in second place in the American League Central, 2.5 games behind Kansas City.  They were one game ahead of third-place Chicago.