1969 Rewind: Game Thirty-eight

MINNESOTA 2, NEW YORK 1 IN NEW YORK (GAME 1 OF DOUBLEHEADER)

Date:  Sunday, May 25.

Batting stars:  George Mitterwald was 2-for-4.

Pitching star:  Dave Boswell pitched a complete game, giving up one run on three hits and eight walks (!) and striking out four.

Opposition stars:  Fritz Peterson pitched seven innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits and a walk and striking out two.  Ex-Twin Jimmie Hall was 1-for-2 with two walks.

The game:  There was no score, and really not much of a threat to score, until the bottom of the fifth.  Tom Tresh led off with a walk, went to second on a ground out, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on Horace Clarke's sacrifice fly to put the Yankees up 1-0.

The lead didn't last long.  In the sixth, Boswell helped his own cause (one of the sad things about the DH is that in the American League we no longer get to say a pitcher "helped his own cause") with a one-out double.  Cesar Tovar brought him home with a single-plus-error to tie the score.  Leo Cardenas' bunt single put men on first and third, and Harmon Killebrew brought home the lead run with a sacrifice fly.  The Twins led 2-1.

That's where the score stayed.  Only once did a team advance a man as far as second base the rest of the game.  That came in the seventh, when Yankee catcher Frank Fernandez doubled with two out.  Tresh walked, but Jim Lyttle struck out to end the inning.

WP:  Boswell (5-5).  LP:  Peterson (6-5).  S:  None.

The game:  Tovar started this game in center field, with Bob Allison in left.  Ted Uhlaender came in for defense in the seventh, with Tovar moving to left.  Frank Quilici started at second base, with Rick Renick at third.  Rod Carew came in for defense in the seventh, with Quilici moving to third.  Mitterwald caught, with Johnny Roseboro given the day off.

I hadn't really thought about it much, but another thing deep bullpens and short benches has done is make late-inning defensive changes much less common.  They still happen, but not nearly with the frequency that they used to.  So far, at least, in 1969, Billy Martin routinely put Quilici at third and Tovar in left in the late innings when the Twins were ahead, usually replacing Graig Nettles in left and Rich Reese in the infield (Killebrew would move from third to first).  I wonder if Martin thought Killebrew was a superior defensive first baseman or if he just was reluctant to take his bat out of the lineup, no matter what the score was.

Boswell was never known for great control--his career record is 4.1 walks per nine innings.  Eight was a little extreme, obviously.  Interestingly, he only once walked more than one in an inning in this game, and that was they fifth when the Yankees scored their lone run.  1969 was actually his best year for walks per nine, at 3.5.

The Twins had now scored fifteen runs in their last nine games.  They won three of them.

This was Hall's lone season with the Yankees, and it wasn't even a full season--he was traded to the Cubs in September.  He would struggle through the 1970 season, then he was done.

Fritz Peterson's given name is Fred Ingles Peterson.  Just in case you were wondering.

Record:  The Twins were 22-16, one game ahead of Oakland in the American League West, pending the playing of the second game of the doubleheader.

Happy Birthday–November 8

Bucky Harris (1896)
Tony Cuccinello (1907)
Wally Westlake (1920)
Joe Nossek (1940)
Ed Kranepool (1944)
John Denny (1952)
Jerry Remy (1952)
Jeff Blauser (1965)
Eric Anthony (1967)
Henry Rodriguez (1967)
Jose Offerman (1968)
Edgardo Alfonzo (1973)
Nick Punto (1977)
Giancarlo Stanton (1989)

Bucky Harris was a star for the franchise when it was in Washington in the 1920s.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–November 8

1969 Rewind: Game Thirty-seven

MINNESOTA 2, NEW YORK 1 IN NEW YORK

Date:  Saturday, May 24.

Batting stars:  Leo Cardenas was 2-for-3.  Tony Oliva was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Jim Kaat pitched a complete game, giving up an unearned run on five hits and two walks and striking out four.

Opposition stars:  Bobby Murcer was 2-for-4.  Bill Burbach pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk and striking out four.

The game:  The Twins started the scoring in the second on singles by Harmon KillebrewGraig Nettles, and Cardenas.  They ran themselves out of a chance for a bigger inning when, with men on first and third and one out, Nettles was thrown out trying to steal home on the back end of a second-and-home double steal attempt.  It went to 2-0 in the third when Rod Carew walked, stole second, and scored on Oliva's single.

It stayed 2-0 for a while, as neither team was getting much else going offensively.  Tom Tresh led off the sixth with a double but did not advance.  The Yankees got on the board in the seventh when, with a man on first and two out, Carew made a two-base error on a pop fly to short right field, scoring Billy Cowan.  Neither team threatened after that, and the game ended 2-1.

WP:  Kaat (4-2).  LP:  Burbach (2-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Cesar Tovar was again at third base, with Nettles in left field.  In the eighth, Frank Quilici came in to play third, with Tovar moving to left.

Carew was 0-for-3 with a walk, dropping his average to .384.  Oliva went up to .306.  Kaat's ERA fell to 2.50.

The Twins went 1-for-4 in stolen bases.  In addition to NettlesOliva was caught stealing twice, in the third and the sixth.

Despite the win, the Twins' run-scoring slump continued.  They had scored just thirteen runs in their last eight games.  This time, they did not have the excuse of facing a top-notch pitcher (more on that below).

As I've been going through these games, it strikes me that one reason pitchers threw more innings and more complete games back then is that balls were simply put in play more frequently.  Yes, there were some pitchers with high strikeout totals, but a lot of successful pitchers did not strike out that many batters.  Kaat pitched a complete game here, but struck out just four and walked only two.  For the season, in 242.1 innings, he struck out just 139 and walked 75 (including 15 intentional walks).  I am making no judgment about what is better or worse, just observing that you're going to be able to face more batters if you don't throw as many pitches per at-bat.  And if you can get those batters to make outs, well, you're probably going to throw more innings and get more complete games.

I have absolutely no memory of Bill Burbach.  As it turns out, he's an ex-Twin that I missed, although he did not play in the majors for Minnesota.  1969 was his rookie season.  He was in the rotation pretty much all year and did fairly well, going 6-8, 3.65.  He pitched 140.2 innings and gave up just 112 hits, but he walked 102 batters, leading to a WHIP of 1.52.  He was just twenty-one years old in this season, though, and one can imagine people saying, "If he can just learn to throw strikes, he'll be a great pitcher."  It didn't happen for him, though.  He made four starts for the Yankees in 1970, posting a 10.26 ERA, and spent the rest of the year in AAA Syracuse.  1971 was similar--two appearances in the majors early in the season, the rest of the year in AAA.  It wasn't AAA Syracuse, though--the Yankees traded him to Baltimore for Jim Hardin in late May.  The Orioles traded him to Detroit before the 1972 season, but somehow he ended up making thirty-three appearances for Tacoma in the Twins' organization that season.  He wasn't very good, posting an ERA of 4.50 and a WHIP of 1.75.  He improved some at throwing strikes as his career, although no one would ever have called him a control pitcher.  As his walk rate went down, however, his hits allowed rate went up.  One wonders if he might have thrown a magical zoomball, and if in the process of trying to control it, it became hittable.  At any rate, he was out of baseball after the 1972 season at age twenty-five.  His career major league numbers are 6-11, 4.48, 1.60 WHIP in 160.2 innings.

Record:  The Twins were 21-16, tied for first with Oakland in the American League West.

Happy Birthday–November 7

Due to personal time constraints, this is a reprint from last year which has not been updated, except for Danny Santana.

Chris Von der Ahe (1851)
Ed "The Only" Nolan (1857)
Bill Brubaker (1910)
Dick Stuart (1932)
Jake Gibbs (1938)
Jim Kaat (1938)
Joe Niekro (1944)
Buck Martinez (1948)
Willie Norwood (1950)
Guy Sularz (1955)
Orlando Mercado (1961)
Russ Springer (1968)
Todd Ritchie (1971)
Glendon Rusch (1974)
Esmerling Vasquez (1983)
Danny Santana (1990)

Promoter/entrepreneur Chris von der Ahe, referred to as "Bill Veeck with a handlebar mustache", owned the St. Louis franchise from 1882-1899.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–November 7

1969 Rewind: Game Thirty-six

NEW YORK 3, MINNESOTA 1 IN NEW YORK

Date:  Friday, May 23.

Batting stars:  Rod Carew was 3-for-4 with a double.  Leo Cardenas was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Ted Uhlaender was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his sixth.

Pitching stars:  Tom Hall pitched 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk and striking out three.  Bob Miller pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a walk.

Opposition stars:  Mel Stottlemyre pitched a complete game, giving up one run on nine hits and a walk and striking out three.  Bobby Murcer was 2-for-4.

The game:  Another game of missed opportunities for the Twins.  Uhlaender and Charlie Manuel got one-out singles in the second, but a double play ended the threat.  An error and a Rod Carew single put men on first and third with two out in the third, but a ground out ended the inning.

The Yankees had their first scoring threat in the fourth, and they cashed it in.  Joe Pepitone delivered a two-out single, driving home Murcer with the first run of the game.   The Twins tied it in the sixth, but it really was yet another missed opportunity.  Carew led off with a double and Tony Oliva singled, putting men on first and third with none out.  Harmon Killebrew hit into a double play, scoring the run but killing the rally.

The Yankees went into the lead to stay in the seventh.  Billy Cowan led off with a single and Frank Fernandez drew a one-out walk.  Bill Robinson then had an RBI double, ending Hall's day and bringing in Miller.  He intentionally walked Bobby Cox, but Stottlemyre foiled the plan with a sacrifice fly, making it 3-1.  The Twins did not get a man past first after that.

WP:  Stottlemyre (7-3).  LP:  Hall (2-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Cesar Tovar was at third base, with Killebrew at first.  Manuel was in left field.

Carew raised his average to .393.  Manuel was 1-for-4 and raised his average to .326.  Oliva was 1-for-4 and was batting .300.

Miller's ERA fell to 1.80.

The Twins had nine hits and a walk, but scored only one run.  They had eight singles and one double.  They hit into three double plays and were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.  The one hit was Oliva's sixth-inning single, which did not produce a run.

The Twins had lost seven out of eight games.  They had scored nineteen runs in those eight games, eight of them in one game.

In their defense, the Twins continued to face some good pitchers.  Mel Stottlemyre pitched mostly in the Horace Clarke Era of Yankee baseball, so he only got into the post-season once, in 1964, which was his rookie season.  Despite playing for some bad Yankee teams (it feels so good to write the phrase "bad Yankee teams"), he won 21 games in 1968 and 20 in 1969.  He also lost 20 games in 1966 and led the league in losses in 1972 with 18 despite posting an ERA of 3.22.  He led the league in complete games twice, with 18 in 1965 and 24 in 1969.  He made the all-star team five times.  His career won-lost record is 164-139, but his career ERA is 2.97.  He pitched for eleven seasons and does not appear to have lost anything in his last season, 1974, but he tore his rotator cuff and in 1974 there was not a lot that could be done about that.  It's hard to feel sorry for a Yankee, and obviously it's not like he's had a tragic life or anything.  But still, had Stottlemyre not torn his rotator cuff, or had he come up to the Yankees in just about any other era, he might well be in the Hall of Fame.

Record:  The Twins were 20-16, in second place in the American League West, one game behind Oakland.

Remodeled basement. Same half-baked taste.