MINNESOTA 10, TEXAS 7 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Friday, September 5.
Batting stars: A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-3 with two runs. Cristian Guzman was 2-for-4 with a triple and four RBIs. Jacque Jones was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his thirteenth. Matthew LeCroy was 1-for-4 with a home run, his sixteenth.
Pitching stars: Juan Rincon pitched three perfect innings, striking out two. LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit. Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Michael Young was 3-for-4 with a grand slam, his thirteenth homer. Jason Jones was 2-for-4 with a double. Alex Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with a home run, his forty-first. Shane Spencer was 2-for-5.
The game: The Twins led all the way, but there were some uneasy moments. Shannon Stewart led off the bottom of the first with a double, was bunted to third, and scored on a sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. In the second Jones singled, Corey Koskie walked, Pierzynski and Guzman had RBI singles, and a sacrifice fly made it 4-0 Twins.
The Rangers got on the board in the third. Three singles loaded the bases, a ground out scored one, and a wild pitch scored another, cutting the lead to 4-2. But the Twins came roaring back in the bottom of the third. Jones singled, Koskie walked, Pierzynski singled to load the bases, and Guzman brought them all home on a four-run triple-plus-error, putting the Twins up 8-2. With Johan Santana on the mound, it looked like an easy win for the Twins.
But Texas had something to say about that. In the fourth a double and two walks loaded the bases with one out. Young then hit a grand slam. Later in the inning Rodriguez homered, and the lead was suddenly down to 8-7.
But as happened so many times in this season, the Twins bullpen came in and shut down the opposition. The Rangers could come up with only two singles after that, one in the eighth and one in the ninth, and neither man got past first base. The Twins got some insurance in the sixth. Rivas tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly, and LeCroy homered later in the inning.
WP: Rincon (4-6). LP: Mickey Callaway (1-6). S: None.
Notes: Stewart was in left with Jones in right. Doug Mientkiewicz returned to the lineup at first base.
Stewart was 1-for-3 and was batting .312. Jones was batting .306. Pierzynski was at .304.
Santana's string of excellent performances came crashing to a halt. He struck out six in four innings, but allowed seven runs on eight hits and two walks.
Hawkins lowered his ERA to 2.00.
The Twins scored three runs on sacrifice flies. I have no idea what the record is--I'm sure it's more than three--but three by one team in one game is at least somewhat unusual.
This was the one season of Jason Jones' major league career. He played in forty games and batted .215/.298/.355. He had hit all through the minors, and continued to hit in AAA in 2004. His total minor league numbers were .286/.375/.458, and those numbers are not skewed by huge numbers in the low minors or anything. The Rangers didn't have a super outfield in 2003--yes, they had Juan Gonzalez, but they also had Shane Spencer and Ryan Christenson. In 2004 their outfield was David Dellucci, Laynce Nix, and Kevin Mench. He was a corner outfielder, which limited him some, but still. There was obviously something the Rangers didn't like about him, and apparently other teams saw it, too. He retired after spending 2004 in AAA at age twenty-seven. It seems like he should've gotten more of a chance, but as we've observed before, no one ever promised that baseball or life would be fair.
It was the third straight win for the Twins. Chicago and Kansas City both won, too, so the Twins did not gain any ground.
Record: The Twins were 74-66, tied for first with Chicago in the American League Central, 1.5 games ahead of third-place Kansas City.