MINNESOTA 10, BALTIMORE 9 IN MINNESOTA (10 INNINGS)
Date: Thursday, July 31.
Batting stars: A. J. Pierzynski was 4-for-6. Luis Rivas was 3-for-5 with a stolen base (his ninth), two runs, and three RBIs. Shannon Stewart was 2-for-5 with a double, a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and two RBIs. Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-5 with two walks. Michael Restovich was 2-for-6 with two runs.
Pitching stars: Juan Rincon struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up a walk. LaTroy Hawkins pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit.
Opposition stars: Robert Machado was 4-for-5. Jay Gibbons was 3-for-6 with a home run (his seventeenth) and three runs. Jose Leon was 3-for-5. Deivi Cruz was 2-for-5 with a home run (his thirteenth), a double, two runs, and five RBIs. Brian Roberts was 2-for-5 with a double and a hit-by-pitch.
The game: The Twins loaded the bases in the second but did not score. In the third, Rivas led off with a single, stole second, and scored on a pair of infield grounders to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. The Orioles came right back in the fourth on singles by Jeff Conine and Gibbons and Cruz' three-run homer. But the Twins came back in the bottom of the fourth. Singles by Restovich, Cristian Guzman, Stewart, and Rivas plated two runs to tie it 3-3.
The Twins went back into the lead in the fifth. Singles by Pierzynski, Restovich, and Guzman plated one run, Stewart was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and a sacrifice fly made it 5-3 Twins. But Baltimore came back in the sixth inning. Gibbons and Jose Leon singled, and both scored on a Cruz double to tie it. Machado's RBI single put the Orioles ahead. A walk and a hit batsman loaded the bases and a sacrifice fly made it 7-5 Baltimore.
The Orioles added to their lead in the seventh. Gibbons led off with a homer, and two-out singles by Machado, Larry Bigbie, and Roberts increased the margin to 9-5. But the Twins came back in the bottom of the seventh. Chris Gomez walked and scored from first on Stewart's double. Stewart went to third on the throw home and scored on a ground out to make it 9-7. The Twins loaded the bases in the eighth but did not score.
In the ninth Rivas led off with a single and Mientkiewicz walked. The next two batters struck out, but Pierzynski singled in a run to make it 9-8 and move the tying run to second. Restovich struck out, but the third strike was not held and catcher Brook Fordyce threw wildly to first, allowing Mientkiewicz to score the tying run. Twins baseball!
Baltimore went down in order in the top of the tenth. Guzman led off the home half with a single and Stewart walked. A bunt moved the runners up, an intentional walk loaded the bases, and Jacque Jones delivered a single to bring home the deciding run.
WP: Hawkins (9-3). LP: Travis Driskill (3-4). S: None.
Notes: Gomez was at third in the continued absence of Corey Koskie. Stewart was in left. Dustan Mohr was in center in place of Torii Hunter. Restovich was in right.
Todd Sears pinch-hit for Gomez in the eighth but did not bat, as a pitching change prompted Ron Gardenhire to use Matthew LeCroy to pinch-hit for Sears. Denny Hocking then pinch-ran for LeCroy and stayed in the game at third base. Hunter pinch-hit for Mohr in the ninth and stayed in the game in center field.
Restovich was batting .385. Stewart was batting .315. Jones was 1-for-5 and was batting .311.
Kenny Rogers pitched five innings and allowed seven runs on ten hits and a walk and struck out three. His ERA was 5.24. Joe Mays allowed two runs in 1.2 innings to raise his ERA to 6.50. Hawkins lowered his ERA to 2.53.
Jason Johnson started for the Orioles. He pitched 4.2 innings, allowing five runs on eleven hits and two walks and striking out two. He's another guy who pitched for years without ever accomplishing anything. His lowest ERA in a season was 4.09, in 2001. In his eleven years in the majors he ERA was over 5.00 seven times and was 6.00 or more three times. His career numbers are 56-100, 4.99, 1.49 WHIP. Yet, he pitched 1357 innings and appeared in 255 games, starting 221 of them.
The Twins finished July on a bit of a high note, winning their last two. However, they were still below .500 and in third place with only two months of the season left.
Record: The Twins were 53-54, in third place in the American League Central, 4.5 games behind Kansas City. They were 3.5 games behind second-place Chicago.