Tag Archives: 1991 rewind

1991 Rewind: Game Fifty

MINNESOTA 4, KANSAS CITY 1 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Sunday, June 2.

Batting stars:  Greg Gagne was 3-for-5 with a double.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a home run (his sixth), a double, a walk, and two RBIs.  Lenny Webster was 1-for-2 with a double and two walks.

Pitching star:  Scott Erickson pitched 8.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk and striking out eight.  He threw 119 pitches.

Opposition stars:  Jim Eisenreich was 3-for-4 with a double.  Luis Aquino pitched four shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk and striking out two.

The game:  The Twins scored exactly one run in each of the first four innings.  In the first, Chuck Knoblauch tripled followed by a Puckett double.  In the second, Mike Pagliarulo doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Gagne's single.  In the third, Puckett homered.

The Royals got on the board in the bottom of the third, as Terry Shumpert walked, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Kirk Gibson's single.  Webster homered in the fourth to make the score 4-1.

And that was it.  Erickson was in control after that, retiring ten straight batters at one point and not allowing a man past second base.  Rick Aguilera came on with one out in the ninth to complete the game.

WP:  Erickson (8-2).  LP:  Tom Gordon (4-3).  S:  Aguilera (11).

Notes:  Pedro Munoz replaced Dan Gladden in left.  Gagne was the leadoff batter.  Gene Larkin was in right field.  Gladden was used as a pinch-runner for Larkin in the eighth and went to left field, with Munoz moving to right.  Al Newman pinch-ran for Pagliarulo, also in the eighth inning, and remained in the game at third base.  With the injury to Junior OrtizWebster was called up and made his 1991 debut.  He had been up briefly in 1989 and 1990, getting a total of twenty-six at-bats, but his home run in this game was the first of his major league career.  It's interesting that Tom Kelly continued to use someone other than Brian Harper to catch Erickson.

Webster, after his debut, was batting .500.  Puckett raised his average to .335.  Gagne raised his average to .319.  Erickson lowered his ERA to 1.58.  Aguilera dropped his ERA to 1.82.

Despite the fact that Erickson was only twenty-three and in his first full year in the majors, TK was not hesitant to leave him out there.  This was his eleventh start, and he had thrown over one hundred pitches in eight of them.  In six of them he was over one hundred ten and four he had one hundred twenty or more.  His high was 134 on April 16 and his low was 84 in his next start on April 21.  His average in those eleven starts was one hundred ten.

Eisenreich apparently enjoyed playing against his former team.  For his career, he batted .341/.364/.514 in 179 at-bats against the Twins.  The only team against whom he had a higher career OPS was the Dodgers, whom he destroyed to the tune of .405/.468/.620 in 205 at-bats.  He hit seven homers against the Dodgers and no more than four against any other club.  In 1991 Eisenreich batted .423/.444/.615 against Minnesota.  Obviously, he did not play against the Dodgers that year.

The Twins had finally pulled back up to .500.  Could they get above .500?  Could they stay there?  We shall see.

Record:  The Twins were 25-25, in fifth place in the American League West, 4.5 games behind Oakland.  They were one game ahead of sixth-place Chicago and 1.5 games behind fourth-place Seattle.

1991 Rewind: Game Forty-four

TEXAS 11, MINNESOTA 4 IN TEXAS

Date:  Monday, May 27.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 4-for-5.  Dan Gladden was 2-for-5 with two runs.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-4 with a home run (his third) and three RBIs.  Chuck Knoblauch was 0-for-1 with four walks.

Pitching stars:  None.

Opposition stars:  Juan Gonzalez was 3-for-5 with a double, two runs, and three RBIs.  Rafael Palmeiro was 3-for-5 with two runs.  Steve Buechele was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Julio Franco was 2-for-5 with a home run (his fifth), a triple, two runs, and three RBIs.  Mike Stanley was 2-for-5 with a double.  Brian Downing was 1-for-3 with a triple, two walks, and two RBIs.

The game:  Well, the Twins got off to a good start.  Gladden led off with a bunt single, Chuck Knoblauch walked, and Puckett delivered an RBI single, giving the Twins a run before anyone was retired.  A double play and a ground out took them out of the inning, though, and it was all downhill from there.

With one out in the bottom of the first, Palmeiro singled and Ruben Sierra doubled.  A ground out held the runners at second and third and gave the Twins hope, but the hope was dashed as Gonzalez hit a two-run double and Stanley followed with an RBI single, putting the Rangers up 3-1.

The Twins opened the second with a single and a walk, but a double play again took them out of the inning.  They got men to second and third with one out in the third, but again could not tally.

Texas added a run in the third on singles by Buechele, Stanley, and Mario Diaz.  The Rangers put it out of reach in the fourth.  Downing led off with a walk, Palmeiro singled, and Sierra's sacrifice fly made it 5-1.  Franco had an RBI triple and scored on Gonzalez' single and the score was 7-1.

Hrbek hit a two-run homer in the fifth to cut the margin to 7-3.  The Twins put men on second and third in the seventh but could not bring them home.  Texas padded their lead with a two-run triple by Downing in the bottom of the seventh and a two-run homer by Franco in the eighth.

The Twins tried to rally in the ninth.  Gladden led off with a single, Knoblauch walked, Puckett singled, and Hrbek walked, forcing in a run and leaving the bases loaded with none out.  "Leaving the bases loaded", however, is exactly what the Twins did, as Kenny Rogers came in to strike out Chili Davis, get Brian Harper on a short fly ball, and strike out Pedro Munoz to end the game.

WP:  Kevin Brown (4-3).  LP:  Allan Anderson (1-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Munoz was in right field.  Al Newman was at third base.  Scott Leius came into the game in the eighth inning to play shortstop, replacing Greg Gagne.

Harper was 1-for-5 and was batting .361.  Puckett raised his average to .339.  Davis was 1-for-5 and was batting .310.  Munoz was 1-for-4 with a walk and was batting .302.

Anderson lasted just 3.1 ininngs, allowing seven runs on eleven hits and a walk and striking out two.  It was his third poor start out of four, and his ERA was up to 5.20.

Paul Abbott relieved Anderson, making his 1991 debut.  He had made seven starts for the Twins in 1990.  He did not pitch particularly well, either, going 3.1 innings and giving up two runs on three hits and four walks.  He did strike out three.  He would stay on the team until mid-August, then come back as a September call-up.

Terry Leach finished up.  He had his second consecutive bad game, pitching 1.1 innings and allowing two runs on one hit and a walk and striking out three.  Over his last two games, his ERA rose from 2.08 to 3.66.

Texas starter Brown pitched five innings, giving up three runs on six hits and five walks and striking out two.

The Twins stranded twelve men and were 2-for-15 with men in scoring position.

The Twins had lost three in a row, seven of eight, and nine of twelve.

I'd forgotten that Kenny Rogers spent his first four major league seasons in the bullpen.  In fact, he led the league in appearances with 81 in 1992.  He would become a starter the following season, 1993, jumping from 78.2 innings to 208.1.  He would remain in a major league rotation through 2008, when he was forty-three.  He was clearly on the down side by then, but he had an excellent season in 2006, when he was forty-one:  He went 17-8, 3.84, 1.26 WHIP and finished tied for fifth (with Joe Nathan) in Cy Young voting.  For his career, he was 219-156, 4.27, 1.40 WHIP.  That may not sound super, but he was in a major league rotation for sixteen consecutive seasons and made thirty or more starts in fourteen of them, and that's pretty good.

Record:  The Twins were 20-24, in sixth place, mere percentage points ahead of seventh-place Kansas City.  They were 7.5 games behind first-place Texas and one game behind fifth-place Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game Forty-three

KANSAS CITY 5, MINNESOTA 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Sunday, May 26.

Batting stars:  Gene Larkin was 2-for-4.  Chili Davis was 2-for-4.  Chuck Knoblauch was 1-for-3 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Carl Willis pitched three shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.  Steve Bedrosian pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk.  Rick Aguilera pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Bret Saberhagen pitched a complete game, giving up one run on eight hits and two walks and striking out two.  Brian McRae was 3-for-5 with a home run (his fourth), a stolen base (his fourth), two runs and two RBIs.  Brent Mayne was 2-for-4.  George Brett was 2-for-4.  Kirk Gibson was 2-for-5 with a double.

The game:  The Royals jumped on Twins starter Kevin Tapani for three runs in the first inning.  They got the first two of them before anyone was retired:  McRae singled, Gibson had an RBI double, Brett singled, and Danny Tartabull had an RBI single.  Following a pop up, Mayne singled home the third run of the inning.  Kansas City added another run in the second when McRae led off the inning with a homer to make the score 4-0.  They got their final run in the fourth when Terry Shumpert doubled and scored on McRae's single.

Meanwhile, the Twins were not doing much of anything off Saberhagen.  They got a man to second base in the third, when Knoblauch and Shane Mack drew two-out walks.  They did it again in the seventh when Davis reached on an error and Larkin had a two-out single.  They actually got two hits in the same inning in the eighth, when Knoblauch singled with one out and Kirby Puckett singled with two out.

The Twins did get on the board in the ninth, when they opened the inning with consecutive singles by DavisBrian Harper, and Larkin.  Another hit would've brought the tying run to the plate, but instead a strikeout and a double play ended the game.

WP:  Saberhagen (5-3).  LP:  Tapani (2-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  With a day game, Mack was in left, replacing Dan Gladden.  He batted second, with Knoblauch moving up to the leadoff spot.  Larkin was in right field.  Al Newman was at short, replacing Greg Gagne.

Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .368.  Puckett was 1-for-4 and was batting .326.  Davis raised his average to .313.

Tapani lasted just four innings, giving up five runs on nine hits and a walk and striking out one.  It was his first really bad game of the season, but he hadn't been pitching as well lately.  His ERA went up steadily from 2.10 on April 27 to now 3.79.

The Twins bullpen did really well.  Five shutout innings, giving up two hits and a walk.  Much of that was Willis, as set forth above.  His ERA was now 3.48.  Aguilera's ERA went to 1.69.

George Brett was off to a very slow start, and in fact would not have a particularly good year.  He had won the batting title in 1990, batting .329.  At this point in 1991, however, he was batting just .224.  He would end the season at .255 with an OPS of .729.  Well, he was thirty-eight.  He would play for two more seasons at about the same level of production, then retire at age forty.  He was mostly a DH at this point, with Bill Pecota having taken over at third base.  Pecota would bat .286 with an OPS of .756--I don't know how this compared to his PECOTA projection.

This was an odd-numbered year, so naturally Saberhagen was having a good season.  Actually, when you look at the stats, the odd-even thing is not nearly as pronounced as legend has made it out to be.  It shows up in his won-lost record more than anywhere else, indicating that it may have been a function of luck as much as anything.  It's true that, throughout most of his career, his ERA was lower in odd-numbered years than in even, but most of the time the difference is not all that great.  It made for a good story, though.

The Twins had now lost six of seven and eight of eleven.  One suspects people were saying "same old Twins".

Record:  The Twins were 20-23, sixth in the American League West, 6.5 games behind Texas.  They remained a half game behind fifth-place Chicago.  They were one game ahead of last-place Kansas City.

1991 Rewind: Game Forty-two

KANSAS CITY 11, MINNESOTA 2 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, May 25.

Batting stars:  Brian Harper was 2-for-4 with two doubles.  Dan Gladden was 2-for-4 with a double.  Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, his fourth.

Pitching star Carl Willis pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Kurt Stillwell was 4-for-5 with a home run (his second) and five RBIs.  Kirk Gibson was 3-for-5 with a double, a stolen base (his sixth) and two runs.  Danny Tartabull was 3-for-5 with a double, two runs, and three RBIs.  George Brett was 2-for-3 with two walks and three runs.  Carmelo Martinez was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Mark Gubicza pitched 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on nine hits and no walks and striking out two.  Jeff Montgomery struck out four in 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

The game:  It was actually close most of the way.  The Twins threatened twice in the early innings, getting a two-out double from Harper in the second and two-out singles from Gladden and Knoblauch in the third.  The Royals threatened in the fourth, putting men on second and third with one out.  But no one actually scored until the fifth.  Greg Gagne got a one-out single, Gladden had an RBI double and took third on the throw home, and a passed ball put the Twins ahead 2-0.

That was as good as it would get for the Twins.  Mark Guthrie had given up just four harmless singles in the first five innings and retired the first two men in the sixth.  But then Gibson singled, Brett walked, and Tartabull and Mike Macfarlane had RBI singles to tie the score.  Terry Leach, who had been pitching very well, gave up RBI singles to Martinez and Stillwell and Kansas City suddenly had a 4-2 lead.

The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the sixth, but Gladden fanned.  In the seventh the Royals added to their lead.  Gibson doubled, Brett was intentionally walked, and Tartabull delivered a two-run double to make the score 6-2.  Kansas City added five in the ninth to put the game away, with a grand slam by Stillwell sealing the Twins' fate.

WP:  Gubicza (1-2).  LP:  Guthrie (3-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Pedro Munoz was in right field.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Gladden in the ninth.  Scott Leius pinch-hit for Hrbek in the ninth.

Harper was now batting .373.  Kirby Puckett was 1-for-5 and was batting .327.  Chili Davis was 1-for-4 and was at .308.  Munoz was 1-for-4 and was also batting .308.  Leach was charged with two runs in one inning, but still had an ERA of 2.95.

Guthrie was charged with four runs in 5.2 innings, giving up seven hits and one walk and striking out six.

Larry Casian pitched the ninth and gave up all five runs, making his ERA 7.36.  That was his last appearance for the Twins in 1991, as he spent the rest of the season in AAA Portland.  He would not return to the majors until September of 1992, but he would have a fine year for the Twins in 1993.  He also played for Cleveland, the Cubs, Kansas City, and the White Sox in a career that spanned nine seasons.

For some reason the Royals used two pitchers to get through the ninth inning.  Mark Davis came in to start the inning and retired the only man he faced.  Dan Schatzeder then came in to finish the game.  I'm sure there was some reason for that, but I have no idea what it is.  And while I don't remember, I strongly suspect that when each pitcher came in, John Gordon solemnly stated that "this is not a save situation".

It's kind of cool that Gladden scored the Twins' second run on a Dazzle Special.

I had completely forgotten that Kirk Gibson was a Kansas City Royal.  1991 was his only season with the team, and it was nothing special:  .236/.341/.403.  He was traded to Pittsburgh for 1992 but batted just .196 in sixteen games and was released in early May.  He sat out the rest of the season and then returned to Detroit, where his career had begun.  He had a few good seasons for the Tigers as a part-time player before calling it quits following the 1995 season.

Danny Tartabull has been largely forgotten now, but he was a darn good batter for several years.  He got his first regular playing time with Seattle in 1986 and posted an OPS of .836 with 25 home runs.  That was only good for fifth in Rookie of the Year voting, and while one could argue that he should have finished higher the guys who beat him out were pretty good, too--Jose Canseco, Wally Joyner, Mark Eichhorn, and Cory Snyder.  The Mariners traded him to Kansas City after the season and he stayed there for five years.  In each of those years he had an OPS of over .800 and two of them were over .900.  His best season with the Royals was his last one, which is the season we're dealing with, 1991.  He batted .316 with 35 homers, led the league in slugging at .593, and had an OPS of .990.  Oddly, for all of his good offensive seasons, 1991 was the only time he made the all-star team.  He became a free agent after the season and went to the Yankees, where he had three more solid seasons.  He slumped in 1995 and was traded to Oakland, but came back to have a solid 1996 season for the White Sox.  That was about it for him, though.  He signed with Philadelphia for 1997 but broke his foot in the first game of the season.  He played in three games, going 0-for-7, then went on the DL and never played again.  For his career, he batted .273/.368/.496 with 262 home runs in just over 5000 at-bats.  As you probably know, his dad is former major league outfielder Jose Tartabull.  He supposedly had a bad attitude, and he's had legal problems since leaving baseball, but he was one of the best batters around for several seasons.

The Twins had lost five of their last six and seven of their last ten.

Record:  The Twins were 20-22, in sixth place in the American League West, 5.5 games behind Texas.  They were a half game behind fifth-place Chicago.

 

1991 Rewind: Game Forty-one

MINNESOTA 3, KANSAS CITY 2 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, May 24.

Batting stars:  Chili Davis was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.  Greg Gagne was 2-for-4.

Pitching star:  Jack Morris pitched 8.1 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks and striking out four.

Opposition stars:  Kurt Stillwell was 1-for-3 with a walk.  George Brett was 1-for-4 with a home run.

The game:  The Royals got on the board in the second when Mike Macfarlane doubled and scored on a Stillwell single.  Each team had a failed threat before the Twins took the lead in the fourth.  Gagne led off with a single and Kent Hrbek drew a one-out walk.  Davis then hit a two-run double-plus-error to give the Twins the lead.  Brian Harper's sacrifice fly brough Davis home and gave the Twins a 3-1 advantage.

That was it for the Twins, but it was enough.  Brett homered leading off the sixth to cut the margin to 3-2.  The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the sixth and did not score.  After the fourth, Kansas City only once got a man as far as second base.  That was in the ninth, when Carmelo Martinez drew a one-out walk and pinch-runner Gary Thurman stole second with two out.  Jim Eisenreich struck out to end the game.

WP:  Morris (4-5).  LP:  Storm Davis (2-5).  S:  Rick Aguilera (9).

Notes:  Pedro Munoz was again in right field.  Chuck Knoblauch was back at second base but batted ninth, with Gagne moved up to number two.

Harper was 1-for-3 and was batting .368.  After his big day yesterday, Kirby Puckett was 0-for-4 and dropped his average to .331.  Munoz was 1-for-3 and was batting .314.  With his big day, Davis raised his average to .310.  Gagne went up to .301.

Aguilera struck out both batters he faced to lower his ERA to 1.77.

Morris' ERA was 4.93.  It was the first time all season it had been under 5.00.  He got started on a roll with this game, though, as he would not have a game score lower than 60 until July 5.

You probably know the story of Jim Eisenreich, so there's no need for me to repeat it.  It's pretty amazing, though, the career he had when he never got over 214 at-bats in a season until he was thirty.  He was a part-time player for most of the next ten seasons, playing with Kansas City, Philadelphia, Florida, and the Dodgers.  In those ten seasons, he batted .300 or better five times and had an OPS of over .800 three times.  He ended his career with nearly 4000 at-bats and 1160 hits.  His career line is .290/.341/.404.  On the one hand, you can think of what might have been, but on the other hand, what actually was, was pretty darn good.

Record:  The Twins were 20-21, in sixth place in the American League West, 4.5 games behind Texas.  The trailed fifth-place Chicago by a half game.

1991 Rewind: Game Forty

TEXAS 10, MINNESOTA 6 IN MINNESOTA (11 INNINGS)

Date:  Thursday, May 23.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 6-for-7 with a triple and two runs.  Kent Hrbek was 3-for-5.  Chili Davis was 2-for-6 with two doubles and a walk.  Shane Mack was 2-for-7 with two doubles.

Pitching star:  Terry Leach pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up no hits and no walks and striking out two.

Opposition stars:  Ruben Sierra was 4-for-6 with a home run (his eighth), a double, two runs, and five RBIs.  Kevin Reimer was 2-for-4 with a double.  Jack Daugherty was 2-for-5.  Juan Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with a home run (his fifth), a double, and four RBIs.  Mike Jeffcoat struck out three in 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up four hits.

The game:  Each team threatened in the first only to have a caught stealing help take them out of the inning.  In the second, Reimer led off with a single and Gonzalez followed with a home run to put the Rangers up 2-0.  The Twins got one back in the bottom of the inning with four consecutive walks, but a double play kept them from adding more.  They tied it 2-2 in the third, however, when Puckett singled, Chili Davis walked, and Pedro Munoz delivered an RBI single.

Texas took the lead in the fifth when Jeff Huson reached on an error, went to third on Daugherty's single, and scored on a sacrifice fly.  The Twins tied it again in the bottom of the fifth on singles by Scott Leius and Junior Ortiz and an RBI double by Al Newman.

The Twins loaded the bases with one out in the sixth but did not score.  The Rangers made them pay for it in the seventh.  With two out, Rafael Palmeiro singled and Sierra hit a two-run homer to give Texas a 5-3 advantage.  But the Twins again tied it in the bottom of the seventh.  Greg Gagne was hit by a pitch with one out.  With two down, Puckett got a single-plus-error, with Gagne scoring and Puckett going to second.  Davis then doubled him home to make the score 5-5.

Puckett tripled with two out in the bottom of the ninth but did not score.  Davis led off the tenth with a double but did not score.

Texas broke it open in the eleventh.  Geno Petralli led off with a double and Huson walked.  Daugherty bunted them to second and third, Palmeiro was intentionally walked, and Sierra delivered a bases-clearing double.  With two out, Gary Pettis walked and Gonzalez hit a two-run double to make the score 10-5.  The Twins got one back in the bottom of the eleventh but never got the tying run farther than the on-deck circle.

WP:  Jeff Russell (1-0).  LP:  Steve Bedrosian (2-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Shane Mack was in left field, replacing Dan Gladden (day game).  Gladden was used as a pinch-hitter in the tenth inning and remained in the game in left, with Mack moving to right.  He pinch-hit for Munoz, who started the game in right field.

Newman was at second base in place of Chuck Knoblauch.  Knoblauch entered the game in the seventh when Randy Bush pinch-hit for Scott Leius, who had pinch-hit for Mike Pagliarulo in the fifth.  Knoblauch went to second, with Newman moving to third.

Scott Erickson was the Twins' starter, which meant that Junior Ortiz was behind the plate.

With his big day, Puckett raised his average from .316 to .340.  He missed joining a very small number of players to go 7-for-7 when he flied out to center in the fourth inning.

Munoz was 1-for-4 with a walk and was batting .313.

Erickson pitched seven innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on ten hits and a walk and striking out four.  His ERA was 1.82.  Leach lowered his ERA to 2.08.

Bush went 0-for-1 and was batting .176.  Leius was 1-for-1 to go  up to .184.

By game scores, this was Erickson's worst game of the season up to this point.  He would not have a worse one until the end of June.  After that, however, he had several worse, especially as he struggled through a miserable August.  He was able to right the ship in September, though.

Record:  The Twins were 19-21, in sixth place in the American League West, 4.5 games behind Texas.  They were 1.5 games behind fifth-place Chicago.  They had lost four in a row (the last two in extra innings) and six of their last eight.

1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-nine

TEXAS 5, MINNESOTA 2 IN MINNESOTA (12 INNINGS)

Date:  Wednesday, May 22.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 3-for-6.  Dan Gladden was 2-for-4 with two walks.  Brian Harper was 2-for-5.

Pitching stars:  Allan Anderson pitched seven innings, giving up one run on seven hit and no walks and striking out two.  Steve Bedrosian pitched a perfect inning.  Rick Aguilera pitched three innings, giving up one run on one hit and three walks and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Mario Diaz was 2-for-2 with a double.  Steve Buechele was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Brian Downing was 2-for-6.  Kevin Brown pitched six innings, giving up two runs on nine hits and two walks and striking out none.

The game:  Each team put men on first and second with two out in the first, and each team failed to score.  It stayed scoreless until the fifth, when Buechele singled, was bunted to second, and scored on Downing's two-out single.

The Twins had two on with none out in the fifth and did not score.  They got on the board in the seventh, but missed a chance for more.  They started the inning with singles by Chili DavisHarperPedro Munoz, and Shane Mack, tying the score and leaving the bases loaded with none out.  The Twins could only get one more out of it, though.  Randy Bush hit a short fly ball, Gladden walked to force in a run.  Chuck Knoblauch hit into a force at home, and Puckett fanned, giving the Twins just a 2-1 lead.

It looked like it might be enough, as the score stayed 2-1 going to the ninth and Aguilera came in to pitch.  He walked Ruben Sierra and struck out Juan Gonzalez.  Sierra then stole second, leading to an intentional walk to Kevin Reimer.  Buechele drew an accidental walk to load the bases and Jack Daugherty hit a sacrifice fly to tie it up.

It stated tied until the twelfth.  Daugherty singled and was bunted to second.  Downing singled to put men on first and third.  Rafael Palmeiro doubled home the go-ahead run.  Later in the inning, Gonzalez delivered a two-run single to make it 5-2.  The Twins got one man on in the bottom of the twelfth, on catcher's interference, but that was it.

WP:  Gerald Alexander (2-0).  LP:  Carl Willis (1-1).  S:  Jeff Russell (10).

Notes:  Munoz started in right field in this game.  Mack and Bush were used as pinch-hitters for Mike Pagliarulo and Greg Gagne, respectively, in the seventh.  Neither stayed in the game, as Al Newman went to short and Scott Leius to third.

Harper raised his average to .369.  Munoz was 1-for-4 and was batting .321.  Puckett raised his average to .316.  Gagne was 0-for-2 and was batting .302.  Knoblauch was 0-for-5 and was batting .300.  Bedrosian lowered his ERA to 2.96.  Aguilera's ERA went up to 1.83.  Terry Leach gave up no runs in two-thirds of an inning to make his ERA 2.40.

Leius went 0-for-2 and was batting .162.  Bush was 0-for-1 and was batting .180.

This was "the" Kevin Brown, the one who was a six-time all-star and finished in the top six in Cy Young voting five times.  1991 was actually one of his worst years.  He went 9-12, 4.40, 1.53 WHIP.  He was a fine pitcher for Texas, leading the league in wins in 1992 with 21, but really became a star when he went to Florida in 1996 and led the league in ERA (1.89) and WHIP (0.94).  He finished second in Cy Young voting to John Smoltz that year, even though Smoltz' ERA was more than a full run higher--one suspects the fact that Smoltz had 27 wins to Brown's 17 was a major factor.  He had some fine years with the Dodgers, too.  For his career he was 211-144, 3.28, 1.22 WHIP.  An excellent pitcher in a career that spanned nineteen seasons (1986, 1988-2005).

This was one of six career wins for Gerald Alexander.  He appeared in 36 major league games, thirty of them in 1991.  He also appeared in three games in 1990 and three in 1992.  He went 5-3, 5.24, 1.58 WHIP in 1991,  For his career he was 6-3, 5.79, 1.69 WHIP.  But he pitched three shutout innings in this game, giving up no hits and two walks.  It had to be one of the best performances of his career.

Since April 26 the Twins had not been more than three games above or below .500.  Since May 4, they had not been more than two games above or below .500.

Record:  The Twins were 19-20, sixth in the American League West, four games behind Oakland.  They were a half game behind fifth-place Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-eight

TEXAS 6,  MINNESOTA 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, May 21.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 1-for-4 with a home run (his fifth) and three RBIs.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-2 with two walks.

Pitching star:  Terry Leach pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Rafael Palmeiro was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two walks.  Steve Buechele was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his sixth), two runs, and two RBIs.  Julio Franco was 2-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base, his fifth.

The game:  In the first inning, Dan Gladden got an infield single, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Puckett's sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  The Rangers tied it in the third on doubles by Jeff Huson and Palmeiro.  The Twins went back up 3-1 in the third when Chuck Knoblauch singled and Puckett followed with a two-run homer, but Texas tied it again in the fourth when Kevin Reimer singled and Buechele followed with a two-out two-run homer.

The Rangers went into the lead to stay in the fifth.  Palmerio hit a one-out double and scored on Franco's two-out single.  They added a couple of runs in the eighth.  Singles by Gino Petralli and Buechele and a walk to Huson loaded the bases with one out.  Jack Daugherty hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-3 and put men on first and third, Huson then stole second, Brian Harper threw the ball into center field, and Buechele scored to make it 6-3.

The Twins came back in the bottom of the eighth.  Hrbek singled and Chili Davis doubled to put men on second and third with none out.  With one down, Harper hit a two-run double to cut the margin to 6-5.  The tying run was in scoring position, but Randy Bush and Al Newman each grounded out to end the inning.  The Twins went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Bobby Witt (2-3).  LP:  Kevin Tapani (2-4).  S:  Jeff Russell (9).

Notes:  Bush was the right fielder in this game.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Mike Pagliarulo in the eighth, with Scott Leius coming in to play third.  Shane Mack pinch-ran for Harper in the eighth and remained in the game in right field, with Junior Ortiz coming in to catch.

Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .367.  Knoblauch was 1-for-4 and was batting .311.  Puckett's average went to .308.  Tapani had an ERA of 3.28.  Steve Bedrosian gave up two runs (one earned) in one inning and raised his ERA to 3.09.  Leach went down to 2.51.

Bush went 0-for-3 with a walk and was batting .184.

It was the fourth loss in a row for Tapani.  Over that span he had pitched to an ERA of 4.55 and his season ERA went from 2.10 to 3.28.  The Twins had scored a total of eight runs in those four games, with five of them obviously coming in this game.

Memory had told me that Bobby Witt always pitched well against the Twins.  Memory was right.  He was 17-7, 3.63, 1.36 WHIP against them.  That's the most wins he had against any team.  The only American League team against whom he had a better ERA was Boston (3.26).  This was the only start he would make against the Twins in 1991.  For his career, Witt was 142-157, 4.83, 1.57 WHIP.  Looking at that career, he wasn't nearly as good as I remembered him being, so I suppose his success against the Twins skewed my memory.

Record:  The Twins were 19-19, fifth in the American League West, four games behind Seattle.  They were a half game behind fourth-place California.

1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-seven

DETROIT 8, MINNESOTA 3 IN DETROIT

Date:  Sunday, May 19.

Batting stars:  Mike Pagliarulo was 3-for-3 with two home runs.  Al Newman was 2-for-3.

Pitching star:  Carl Willis pitched four shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out three.

Opposition stars:  Dan Petry pitched eight innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits and no walks and striking out two.  Pete Incaviglia was 2-for-3 with a home run (his fourth), a walk, and two runs.  Mickey Tettleton was 2-for-4 with a triple and a walk.  Tony Phillips was 2-for-5 with a double.  Milt Cuyler was 1-for-3 with a grand slam and a walk.  Cecil Fielder was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his sixth.

The game:  The Tigers made it a laugher early, scoring seven runs in the first inning off Twins starter Jack Morris.  Tony Phillips singled, Lou Whitaker walked, and with one out Fielder hit a three-run homer.  It did not kill the rally, as Tettleton singled, Incaviglia had a two-out single, Travis Fryman reached on an error, and Cuyler hit a grand slam to make the score 7-0 Detroit.  It was pretty much over at that point.

The Twins got on the board in the third.  Pagliarulo led off with an inside the park home run.  Greg Gagne followed with a double and scored on Newman's bunt single-plus-error.  Incaviglia got one of the runs back in the bottom of the third with a home run, making the score 8-2.  Pagliarulo hit an outside the park home run in the fifth to make it 8-3.

And that was pretty much it.  The Twins did not get a man past first after that and the Tigers only once got a man as far as second.

WP:  Petry (2-2).  LP:  Morris (3-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Newman was at second base, replacing Chuck Knoblauch.  Pedro Munoz was in right field.  With Knoblauch out, Munoz batted second.  Randy Bush pinch-hit for Munoz in the eighth and remained in the game in right field.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Chili Davis in the ninth and had the honor of making the last out of the game.

Brian Harper was 0-for-3 and was batting .372.  Munoz was 1-for-3 and was batting .333.  Kirby Puckett was 1-for-4 and was batting .310.  Gagne was 1-for-3 and was batting .308.  With four shutout innings, Willis lowered his ERA to 3.38.

Morris lasted four innings and gave up eight runs (four earned) on seven hits and six walks.  He struck out three and threw 107 pitches in his four innings.  This would be good to remember the next time he or Bert complain about pitchers needing a hundred pitches to get through five innings.   It was the third time in four games he had given up five or more runs.  Morris' ERA was 5.34.  He may never have lost with ten runs, but here he would've lost with seven.

It would seem pretty unusual for the same pitcher to give up a three-run homer and a grand slam in the same inning.  I'm not suggesting it's as rare as an unassisted triple play, but it doesn't seem like something that happens very often.

I had completely forgotten that Pagliarulo had an inside the park home run for the Twins.  I have no details of it to share with you, other than that it came on a fly ball to left field and that Phillips was the left fielder.

This was the second time in four days that Willis saved the bullpen by pitching multiple good innings of relief.  In his last three appearances (10.1 innings) he had given up one run on seven his and one walk while striking out four.

I think, if Carl Willis was my pitching coach and he came out for a mound visit, I would not be able to resist the urge to say, "What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

In a lineup that had Cecil Fielder, Pete Incaviglia, Rob Deer, Travis Fryman, and others, it was Milt Cuyler who delivered the key blow with the grand slam.  He hit three home runs in 1991 and had ten for his career.  Things like that are either the most glorious or the most frustrating thing about the game, depending on which side of them you're on.  But regardless of which side you're on, things like that just make you shrug your shoulders and say, "Well, that's baseball."

Record:  The Twins were 19-18, in sixth place in the American League West, but just one percentage point behind fifth-place Chicago.  They trailed division-leading Oakland by 3.5 games.

1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-six

MINNESOTA 4, DETROIT 1 IN DETROIT

Date:  Saturday, May 18.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a home run, his fourth.  Greg Gagne was 2-for-4.  Shane Mack was 1-for-3 with a three-run homer, his third.

Pitching stars:  Mark Guthrie pitched six innings, giving up one run on five hits and four walks.  He struck out three.  Rick Aguilera pitched two shutout innings, giving up three walks and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Milt Cuyler was 2-for-3 with a stolen base, his tenth.  Frank Tanana pitched eight innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and four walks and striking out two.  He threw 127 pitches.

The game:  All the scoring came early.  With two out and none on in the first Puckett hit a home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  With two out and none on in the bottom of the first, Guthrie walked three in a row to load the bases, but struck out Travis Fryman to get out of the inning.

Brian Harper led off the second with a single.  Kent Hrbek walked, and Mack hit a three-run homer to put the Twins up 4-0.  The Tigers got one back in the bottom of the second when Andy Allenson doubled, took third on Cuyler's single, and scored on a sacrifice fly.

And that was all the scoring.  Detroit got a man to second in the fourth, when Fryman walked and stole second; in the sixth, on singles by Rob Deer and Pete Incaviglia, and in the seventh, when Cuyler singled and stole second.  They had a major threat in the ninth.  With one out, Dave Bergman walked.  With two out, Aguilera walked Tony Phillips and Lou Whiteaker, loading the bases and bringing the potential winning run up to bat.  Alan Trammell hit a fly to deep left, but it stayed in the park and the Twins won the game.

WP:  Guthrie (3-2).  LP:  Tanana (2-3).  S:  Aguilera (7).

Notes:  Mack started in right field in this game, but he was not yet the full-time starter.  Other than that, it was the regular lineup.

Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .385.  Chuck Knoblauch was 1-for-4 and was batting .313.  Puckett raised his average to .312.  Gagne went up to .307.  Chili Davis was 0-for-3 with a walk and was batting .300.  As you can see, that makes five starters batting .300 or better.  It's still only mid-May, but that's pretty good.

Terry Leach pitched a third of an inning, giving up no runs on one hit.  His ERA was 2.70.  Aguilera's ERA was 1.62.

Scott Leius was 1-for-3 to raise his average to .171.

There were eleven walks in the game, seven given by Twins pitchers.  Who knows, but one suspects plate umpire Dale Scott might have had a small strike zone.  Oddly, six of the seven walks Twins pitchers gave up came in two innings, the first and last.  In both of those innings, Twins pitchers walked the bases full but did not allow a run.

Frank Tanana was a fine pitcher, but for some reason the Twins usually did fairly well against him.  For his career he was 240-236, 3.66, 1.27 WHIP.  Against the Twins, he was 19-20, 4.49, 1.37 WHIP.  He only faced the Twins one other time in 1991, though, in late July, and did quite well in that game.

Record:  The Twins were 19-17, tied for fourth with California, three games behind first-place Seattle.  The Twins were a half game behind Texas for third place.