MINNESOTA 8, TEXAS 5 IN TEXAS
Date: Friday, August 29.
Batting stars: Doug Mientkiewicz was 4-for-5. Shannon Stewart was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs. Matthew LeCroy was 1-for-3 with a home run (his fifteenth) and a walk.
Pitching stars: Carlos Pulido pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one. Grant Balfour pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one. LaTroy Hawkins struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up two hits. Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect inning and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Mark Teixeira was 2-for-4 with a triple. Todd Greene was 2-for-4. Hank Blalock was 2-for-4 with a walk. Laynce Nix was 1-for-3 with a three-run homer (his fifth) and a walk.
The game: LeCroy had the game's first hit in the second inning and it was a home run, putting the Twins up 1-0. The Rangers tied it in the bottom of the second when Teixeira hit a two-out triple and scored on Greene's single. Texas took a big lead in the third. Michael Young led off with a double, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a sacrifice fly. With two out and none on, Rafael Palmeiro doubled, Shane Spencer walked, and Nix hit a three-run homer to put the Rangers ahead 5-1.
The Twins started their comeback in the fifth. Singles by Torii Hunter and Cristian Guzman were followed by a ground out, putting men on second and third with two down. Stewart delivered a two-run single, cutting the lead to 5-3. The Twins sent just three men to the plate in each of the sixth and seventh innings, however, leaving the score 5-3 as we went to the eighth.
In the eighth, Stewart doubled, but was still on second with two out. Mientkiewicz had an RBI single to make the score 5-4. Walks to LeCroy and Jacque Jones loaded the bases and a Dazzle Special (wild pitch) tied the score. Hunter was then intentionally walked to load the bases and A. J. Pierzynski was hit by a pitch to put the Twins up 6-5. Twins Baseball!!!!
Texas put men on first and third in the eighth but did not score. In the ninth, Chris Gomez and Luis Rivas singled to put men on first and second. Mientkiewicz then came through again, getting a two-run single-plus-error to give the Twins an 8-5 lead. The Rangers went down in order in the ninth.
WP: Balfour (1-0). LP: John Thomson (12-11). S: Guardado (30).
Notes: Denny Hocking remained at third in place of Corey Koskie. Jones was in left and Stewart in right.
Michael Ryan pinch-hit for Guzman in the eighth. Gomez went in at shortstop in the ninth. Dustan Mohr pinch-ran for LeCroy in the eighth.
Ryan was 0-for-1 and was batting .375. Stewart was batting .314. Jones was 0-for-3 and was batting .308. Mientkiewicz raised his average to .303.
Joe Mays lasted just three innings, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks and striking out one. His ERA was 6.37. This was his last start of the season. He would make just one more appearance, then be shut down for the rest of the season. The bullpen bailed the Twins out, pitching six shutout innings and giving up five hits and a walk and striking out five.
This was Pulido's first appearance in the majors since 1994, a gap of nine years. In between he played for a few different organizations and also played in Japan, Taiwan, and independent ball.
This was Balfour's first major league win. In a pennant race, Ron Gardenhire used two pitchers who people had no reason to have much confidence in, and they rewarded him with four shutout innings and a win.
Pulido's ERA was zero. Balfour's ERA was 1.76. Hawkins had an ERA of 2.10.
Kansas City and Chicago both lost, so the Twins gained ground on both.
Record: The Twins were 70-64, in third place in the American League Central, a half game behind both Chicago and Kansas City, who were tied for first.