MINNESOTA 16, OAKLAND 4 IN OAKLAND
Date: Sunday, September 7.
Batting stars: Harmon Killebrew was 2-for-2 with two home runs (his forty-first and forty-second), a walk, and seven (!) RBIs. Tony Oliva was 2-for-2 with a home run (his twenty-second) and three walks, scoring four times and driving in two. Frank Quilici was 2-for-3 with a home run (his second), three RBIs, and two runs. Cesar Tovar was 2-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base (his thirty-seventh) and three runs. Dave Boswell was 2-for-4. Ted Uhlaender was 2-for-6 with a walk and a stolen base (his fourteenth), scoring twice.
Pitching star: Joe Grzenda pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out two.
Opposition stars: Tito Francona was 3-for-4 with a triple, a double, and four RBIs. Bert Campaneris was 3-for-5 with a double and two stolen bases, his fifty-second and fifty-third.
The game: If yesterday's eighteen-inning win made a statement, this game put an exclamation point on it. With one out in the first inning Tovar singled, Oliva walked, and Killebrew hit a three-run homer, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead. To their credit, the Athletics bounced back with three in the bottom of the first. Campaneris singled and stole second and third. With one out Reggie Jackson and Sal Bando walked, loading the bases, and Francona hit a three-run double to tie it 3-3 after one inning.
That was as good as it got for Oakland. The Twins came roaring back again in the second. Johnny Roseboro led off with a single. Back-to-back forceouts at second meant Boswell was the runner on first with two out. Walks to Uhlaender and Tovar filled the bases and a walk to Oliva forced in the go-ahead run. Walking three guys to get to Killebrew does not sound like a good idea and Harmon showed them why, hitting a grand slam to put the Twins up 8-3.
The Athletics gave themselves a chance to come back in the bottom of the second, putting men on second and third with one out, but could do nothing with it. The Twins put the game out of reach in the fourth. Singles by Tovar and Oliva opened the inning, with a walk to Killebrew loading the bases. Rich Reese was hit by a pitch to force in a run and Rick Renick singled in another, although Killebrew was thrown out at the plate. No worries, because RBI singles by Leo Cardenas and Boswell followed, making the score 12-3. The Twins added solo homers by Oliva and Quilici in the fifth to make it 14-3.
Oakland got one in the bottom of the fifth when Bando drew a two-out walk and scored on Francona's triple. The Twins tacked on two in the ninth when Grzenda walked, Uhlaender singled, George Mitterwald drew a two-out walk, and Quilici delivered a two-run single.
WP: Boswell (16-10). LP: Fred Talbot (5-9). S: Grzenda (3).
Notes: Rod Carew was still not in the lineup. Tovar was at second and Uhlaender in center field. Graig Nettles was the left fielder.
Once the Twins got a big lead they made numerous changes. Charlie Manuel came in to play left. Jim Holt went to right. George Mitterwald went behind the plate. Quilici came in to play third and then moved to second when Renick went to third.
Additionally, this game marked the Twins debut of Cotton Nash, who went to first base in the fourth inning. He would play a total of ten games for the Twins in 1969 and 1970. He had some fine years in AAA, hitting 33 homers in 1970 and 37 in 1971, but it was his bad luck to be ready for the majors at a time when the Twins had Killebrew and Reese. I don't know why the Twins weren't able to trade him, or if they even pursued the idea. He is also one of the few people to play both major league baseball and professional basketball. He played for the Lakers, the Warriors, and the ABA Kentucky Colonels.
Reese was 0-for-2 in this game and was batting .326. Oliva was batting .319.
Boswell pitched well after the first inning. His line was 6.1 innings, four runs, six hits, four walks, and five strikeouts. Fred Talbot was the Oakland starter. He lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up six runs on three hits and three walks.
It can't have been a good feeling for Oakland manager Hank Bauer to have to give the ball to Talbot in what was almost a must-win game for them. Not that he was the worst pitcher ever, but despite spending most of his career in the best pitcher's era ever, his lifetime ERA was 4.12. He never had an ERA under four in a season in which he pitched at least a hundred innings. I don't have time to go back and research whether Bauer would've had a better option available, but this certainly wasn't a good one. That's not to say it couldn't have worked--this is baseball, after all--but the odds weren't particularly good.
Oakland used five pitchers in the game, each of whom gave up at least two runs. The best was Ed Sprague, who took four innings to give up his two runs. He allowed three hits and three walks and struck out three.
One of the five pitchers was Vida Blue, who was in his rookie year. He pitched just a third of an inning, allowing two runs on a hit and a walk to raise his ERA to 6.81. As you may be aware, he would do better than this in later years.
Record: The Twins were 85-53, in first place in the American League West, leading Oakland by 8.5 games.