Tag Archives: 2002 rewind

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-eight

OAKLAND 7, MINNESOTA 5 IN OAKLAND

Date:  Sunday, September 1.

Batting stars:  Torii Hunter was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his twenty-seventh.  Matthew LeCroy was 1-for-3 with a home run (his fifth) and a walk.  Corey Koskie was 1-for-3 with a home run (his tenth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Mike Jackson pitched a perfect inning.  Tony Fiore pitched a scoreless inning, walking one.

Opposition stars:  Miguel Tejada was 3-for-5 with two home runs (his twenty-ninth and thirtieth) and five RBIs.  Ray Durham was 3-for-5.  Scott Hatteberg was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk.

The game:  Oakland loaded the bases with none out in the first but did not score, as their next three batters fanned.  They broke through in the third, however, as Tejada hit a two-run homer.  The Twins tied it in the sixth when Hunter hit a two-run homer.  The tie didn't last long, though, because John Mabry homered leading off the bottom of the sixth and Durham had an RBI single later in the inning to give the Athletics a 4-2 lead.  The Twins took the lead in the top of the ninth.  LeCroy and Koskie led off the ninth with back-to-back homers to tie it and Michael Cuddyer hit a two-out homer to put the Twins up 5-4.  Eddie Guardado came in to pitch the ninth.  He walked Ramon Hernandez and gave up a single to Durham, putting men on first and second.  Olmedo Saenz was called out on strikes, but Tejada hit a three-run homer to end the game.

WP:  Billy Koch (7-2).  LP:  Eddie Guardado (1-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Luis Rivas was the leadoff batter, with Jacque Jones on the bench.  Rivas was 0-for-4 with a walk.  Jones was used as a pinch-hitter and grounded out.

Dustan Mohr played left field, with Michael Cuddyer in right.  Cuddyer was 1-for-4.  The go-ahead home run was his third of the season.

Tom Prince was the catcher, with A. J. Pierzynski on the bench.  Prince was 0-for-2 with two walks.

Joe Mays started and the pitched six innings, giving up four runs on ten hits and two walks and striking out three.

It was Guardado's and last sixth blown save of the season.

The first two Twins home runs in the ninth inning came off Oakland starter Mark Mulder, who was going for a complete game.  He pitched eight innings, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks and striking out seven.

The Cuddyer home run came off Oakland closer Billy Koch.

I'd forgotten what a good batter Miguel Tejada was.  Seven consecutive seasons with an OPS over .800, and the string was broken in 2007 when his OPS was .799.  He hit over 30 homers four times and had 100 or more RBIs six times.  He made the all-star team six times and got some sort of MVP consideration seven times, winning the award in 2002 (although it really should have gone to Alex Rodriguez) and finishing fifth in 2004.  His career numbers are .285/.336/.456 with 307 home runs and 468 doubles (he led the league in doubles twice).  Plus, he played 162 games for six consecutive seasons.  I'm not saying he belongs in the Hall of Fame, but he's certainly in the Hall of Very Good.

Record:  The Twins were 80-58, in first place, leading Chicago by thirteen games.

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-seven

OAKLAND 6,  MINNESOTA 3 IN OAKLAND

Date:  Saturday, August 31.

Batting stars:  Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-4.  Corey Koskie was 1-for-2 with a double and two walks.  Dustan Mohr was 1-for-2 with a home run, his eleventh.

Pitching star:  Kyle Lohse pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk and striking out four.

Opposition stars:  Cory Lidle pitched 7.1 innings, giving up one run on four hits and a walk and striking out six.  Eric Chavez was 3-for-4 with a home run (his thirty-first) and a double, driving in four.  Ray Durham was 1-for-3 with a walk.

The game:  Oakland took the lead in the first inning, getting an RBI double from Chavez and scoring another run on a ground out to go up 2-0.  It stayed 2-0, with neither team even mounting much of a threat, until the sixth, when back-to-back two-out doubles by Koskie and David Ortiz cut the lead to 2-1.  Chavez got the run back for the Athletics when he led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run to make it 3-1.  The Twins tied it in the eighth.  Mohr hit a one-out pinch-hit homer to make it 3-2 and Torii Hunter delivered a two-out RBI single later in the inning to tie it 3-3.  The normally reliable J. C. Romero came in to pitch the eighth, but he did not have it this day.  With one out, Ramon Hernandez doubled and Durham walked.  A ground out put men on second and third with two down.  Miguel Tejada was intentionally walked, but Chavez and Jermaine Dye delivered back-to-back singles, with Chavez driving home two and Dye one, to give the Oaklands a 6-3 lead.  The Twins got a two-out walk in the ninth but no more.

WP:  Jim Mecir (5-3).  LP:  Romero (8-2).  S:  Billy Koch (37).

Notes:  A. J. Pierzynski dropped back below .300 with an 0-for-4.  He was batting .298.

Bobby Kielty also dropped below .300 with an 0-for-4.  He was batting .295.

I know we don't put a lot of stock in won-lost records, but those of some of the Twins relievers in 2002 were rather remarkable.  Tony Fiore ended up 10-3.  Romero was 9-2.  LaTroy Hawkins was 6-0.  That's 25-5 from the primary set-up men.  It seems like that shows:  a) that those three pitched very well, and b) the Twins got a lot of late wins that season.

Record:  The Twins were 80-57, in first place, leading Chicago by fourteen games.

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-six

OAKLAND 4, MINNESOTA 2 IN OAKLAND

Date:  Friday, August 30.

Batting stars:  Jacque Jones was 2-for-3 with a home run, his twenty-fifth.  Luis Rivas was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk.  A. J. Pierzynski was 1-for-2 with a double.

Pitching stars:  Brad Radke pitched six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk and striking out three.  Bob Wells pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Ray Durham was 4-for-5 with a home run (his twelfth) and two doubles.  Tim Hudson struck out seven in 6.1 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks.  Mark Ellis was 2-for-4 with a double.

The game:  Jones led off the top of the first with a home run, but Durham led off the bottom of the first with a home run, leaving the score tied 1-1.  Pierzynski doubled home a run in the top of the second, but David Justice tripled and scored on an Ellis single in the bottom of the second to tie it 2-2.  The Twins started the third with a double, a single, and a walk but did not score.  In the fifth, Eric Chavez delivered a two-out RBI single to give the Athletics their first lead a 3-2.  The Twins put men on first and second with one out in the seventh, but a double play ended the inning.  Durham and Scott Hatteberg opened the bottom of the seventh with doubles that made the score 4-2.  The Twins went down in order in the eighth and ninth.

WP:  Hudson (12-9)  LP:  Radke (6-4).  S:  Billy Koch (36).

Notes:  Bobby Kielty was 1-for-4 and was batting .300.  It would be the last day of the season in which he would be at .300 or above.  He would end the season at .291.

Pierzynski was batting .302.

In Wells' last twenty-six appearances of the season, he gave up zero runs in twenty-one of them.  In the other five, he gave up three twice, four twice, and five once.  So, for all his good appearances, his ERA only went from 6.26 to 5.90.

Billy Koch had been the closer for Toronto for three seasons before being traded to Oakland before the 2002 season.  He had a fine season for them, going 11-4, 3.27 with 44 saves.  He led the league in appearances with 84 and in games finished with 79.  He finished eighteenth in MVP voting.  It was the last good year he would have.  He was traded to the White Sox before the 2003 season, pitched poorly, lost the closer job to Tom Gordon, and was never a closer again.  He would pitch only one more season and then was out of baseball at age twenty-nine.  According to b-r.com, "Koch, his wife and their children have been suffering from a condition, called Morgellons disease by those who believe it to be a true condition but generally thought among the medical community to be a type of delusional parasitosis, which can cause sufferers to experience what they perceive as a crawling feeling and an expulsion of filaments from under the skin. This condition is what many people feel led to his demise in the major leagues."  Some very brief googling makes me doubt the "generally thought" part of that--I'm not sure there is a general consensus--but it does appear to be a matter of controversy.

Record:  The Twins were 80-56, in first place, leading Chicago by fifteen games.

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-five

SEATTLE 2, MINNESOTA 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, August 29.

Batting stars:  Doug Mientkiewicz was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.  Tom Prince was 1-for-3 with a double.

Pitching star:  Rick Reed struck out eight in 7.2 innings, giving up one run on seven hits and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Jamie Moyer struck out seven in seven shutout innings, giving up five hits and a walk.  Desi Relaford was 3-for-4 with a home run, his fifth.  Bret Boone was 2-for-4 with a double.

The game:  Each team got a one-out double in the second but did not advance the runner.  The Twins had a man on second with two out in the third.  They got another one-out double in the fifth and did not advance the runner.  The Mariners left the bases loaded in the sixth.  Relaford led off the eighth with a home run to put Seattle in front 1-0.  The Twins again got a man to second with one out in the bottom of the eighth.  He went to third on a ground out but was stranded.  In the ninth, two singles, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly made it 2-0 Mariners.  The Twins went 0-for-7 with men in scoring position.

WP:  Moyer (13-6).  LP:  Reed (12-7).  S:  Kazuhiro Sasaki (33).

Notes:  Matthew LeCroy was the DH in this game, going 0-for-3.

Prince was the catcher in place of A. J. Pierzynski.

Denny Hocking was the shortstop, with Cristian Guzman out of the lineup.  He went 1-for-3.

Torii Hunter was 0-for-4, dropping his average to .299.  He would not get above .300 the rest of the season and would end the year at .289.

This was the fourth of eight consecutive starts in which Reed would give up two runs or fewer.  He would go 6-1, 1.62 in those eight starts, lowering his ERA from 4.63 to 3.71.

Relaford hit forty career home runs.  His season high was eight, in 2001 and 2003.

Moyer was thirty-nine in 2002.  He would pitch in nine more major league seasons.

Record:  The Twins were 80-55, in first place, leading Chicago by sixteen games.

 

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-four

MINNESOTA 2, SEATTLE 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, August 28.

Batting stars:  Doug Mientkiewicz was 3-for-3.  Torii Hunter was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his twenty-sixth.  Dustan Mohr was 1-for-2 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Johan Santana pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and three walks and striking out five.  J. C. Romero pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out one.  Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Joel Pineiro pitched six innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and a walk and striking out three.  Bret Boone was 2-for-3 with a home run (his twenty-first) and a walk.  Mike Cameron was 3-for-4.

The game:  Boone homered in the first inning to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.  Each team put two men on in the second but did not score.  Each team put two men on in the fourth and did not score.  Seattle put two men on in the sixth and did not score.  In the bottom of the sixth, however, Corey Koskie led off with a single and Hunter hit a one-out two-run homer to give the Twins a 2-1 lead.  In the eighth the Mariners had two singles and a walk, loading the bases with one out, but John Olerud hit into a double play to end the threat.  Cameron hit a leadoff single in the ninth but did not move from first base.

WP:  Santana (8-5).  LP:  Pineiro (13-5).  S:  Guardado (38).

Notes:  Hunter's average was .301.

A. J. Pierzynski was 0-for-3 and was also batting .301.

It was Santana's best start in a month.  For his reward, he was sent to the bullpen.  Eric Milton was back from the disabled list, someone had to go to the bullpen, and it was the kid.  I understand that you weren't going to send Brad Radke or Rick Reed to the pen, but Joe Mays certainly wasn't getting much accomplished.  To his credit, while Santana wasn't happy about the situation, he pitched very well in relief in September, posting a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings.

Romero's ERA was 1.51.

Guardado's ERA was 2.62.

Joel Pineiro was in the middle of a three-year run in which he went 36-20, 3.10.  He struggled from 2004-2008, but he hung in there, and teams kept giving him chances.  In 2009-2010 he put together another good run, going 25-19, 3.64.  He pitched in twelve seasons, and in about half of them he was a pretty good pitcher.

Record:  The Twins were 80-54, in first place, leading Chicago by sixteen and a half games.

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-three

MINNESOTA 5, SEATTLE 2 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, August 27.

Batting stars:  Torii Hunter was 3-for-4 with a home run, his twenty-fifth.  Jacque Jones was 2-for-4 with a home run, his twenty-fourth.  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4 with a triple.

Pitching stars:  Joe Mays pitched six innings, giving up two runs on nine hits and three walks with one strikeout.  LaTroy Hawkins pitched a perfect inning.  Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Desi Relaford was 2-for-3 with a double.  Carlos Guillen was 2-for-4.  Dan Wilson was 2-for-4.

The game:  Wilson singled home a run in the first inning to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.  The Twins started the third with a single, a double, and a single, but only scored once, as Pierzynski singled home a run to tie it 1-1.  Seattle went ahead 2-1 in the top of the fourth, as Desi Relaford doubled home a run.  The Twins took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth.  Hunter tied it with a home run, Doug Mientkiwicz singled, and Pierzynski delivered a two-out run-scoring triple to give the Twins a 3-2 advantage.  Jones led off the fifth with a homer to make it 4-2.  Hunter drove in the game's final run with an infield single in the seventh.  The Mariners missed on a lot of promising starts to innings.  They had men on first and second with one out in the second, started the third with two singles, left a man on second in the fourth, had men on first and second starting off the fifth, and got a pair of one-out singles in the sixth.  They hit into three double plays and were 2-for-11 with men in scoring position.

WP:  Mays (3-5).  LP:  Ismael Valdez (7-10).  S:  Guardado (37).

Notes:  Hunter got his average back over .300 at .301.

Pierzynski was batting .303.  The triple was his fifth of the season.  He would hit six in 2002, a quarter of his career total.

Hawkins' ERA went to 2.22.

J. C. Romero pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk.  His ERA fell to 1.53.

Guardado's ERA dropped to 2.67.

We will not have a player profile today, and may not have one for the remainder of this series.  I enjoy doing them, but they take a lot of time.  It's Ash Wednesday, which means the start of Lent coming on, which means mid-week worship services to prepare.  Unfortunately, I only get the same number of hours in the day that everyone else does.  Such is life.

Record:  The Twins were 79-54, in first place, leading Chicago by sixteen and a half games.

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-two

KANSAS CITY 4, MINNESOTA 2 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Sunday, August 25.

Batting stars:  Bobby Kielty was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Dustan Mohr was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his tenth.

Pitching star:  Tony Fiore pitched two shutout innings, giving up four hits and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Miguel Ascencio pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks and striking out four.  Neifi Perez was 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base, his eighth.  Raul Ibanez was 2-for-2 with two walks and a home run, his twenty-second.

The game:  Chuck Knoblauch homered leading off the bottom of the first to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.  Michael Tucker homered leading off the bottom of the second to make it 2-0.  Ibanez homered in the bottom of the third to make it 3-0.  The Twins got a pair of one-out singles in the fourth, but a double play took them out of the inning.  In the sixth, doubles by Tucker and Perez made it 4-0 Kansas City.  The Twins cut the lead in half in the seventh, as Mohr hit a two-run homer to make it 4-2.  The Twins did not get a man past first base after that.

WP:  Ascencio (3-4).  LP:  Kyle Lohse (11-8).  S:  Roberto Hernandez (24).

Notes:  Torii Hunter was given the day off, with Kielty playing center field.

A. J. Pierzynski was also given the day off, with Tom Prince catching.  He was 0-for-2 with a walk.

This was the last of Cristian Guzman's twenty-three game hitting streak.  He was 35-for-97, for an average of .361.  His season average went up from .259 to .278 during the streak.

Lohse pitched five innings, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks and striking out three.

Fiore lowered his ERA to 2.85.

Knoblauch's home run was his fourth of the season.  He was 1-for-5 in the game and was batting .215.

Tucker's home run was his twelfth.

This was Miguel Ascencio's rookie season, and his only full season in the major leagues.  He was signed as a free agent by Philadelphia in 1998.  He had a strong year in high A in 2001 and was taken by Kansas City in the Rule 5 draft.  The Royals kept him in the majors all season, giving him 21 starts and using him in relief 10 times.  He did about as well as you could expect from a twenty-one-year-old who'd never pitched above Class A, going 4-7, 5.11, 1.62 WHIP.  He started 2003 in the Royals' rotation and did a little better in eight starts, going 2-1, 5.21, 1.55 WHIP.  Then, however, he hurt his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.  He not only missed the rest of the season but also missed all of 2004 and does not look as if he ever truly came back from it.  He signed with San Diego for 2005 but clearly still wasn't healthy, making just three poor starts in AAA before being released.  The Rockies signed him for 2006 and he made three major league appearances in April, but that was the end of his major league career.  He was in AAA the rest of 2006, in AA and AAA with Houston in 2007, and was mostly in AA with Boston in 2008.  His major league record was 7-8, 5.12, 1.61 WHIP.  We'll never know if he'd have developed into a good pitcher had he stayed healthy.  No information about what Miguel Ascencio is doing now was readily available.

Record:  The Twins were 78-54, in first place, leading Chicago by sixteen games.

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-one

MINNESOTA 6, KANSAS CITY 5 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Saturday, August 24.

Batting starsDenny Hocking was 3-for-3 with three doubles and a walk.  David Ortiz was 3-for-5.  Cristian Guzman was 2-for-4 with a double.

Pitching stars:  LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one.  J. C. Romero pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Joe Randa was 3-for-5 with a double.  Mike Sweeney was 3-for-5.  Carlos Beltran was 2-for-5 with a double.

The game:  Ortiz singled home a run in the first to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  In the second, Luis Alicea had a two-run single and another run scored on a ground out to put the Royals up 3-1.  Bobby Kielty hit a two-run homer in the third to tie it 3-3.  The Twins went into the lead in the fourth.  Hocking led off with a double and scored on a Guzman double.  Ortiz then singled home a run to make it 5-3 Twins.  Beltran doubled home a run in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to 5-4.  Guzman's sacrifice fly in the sixth to give the Twins 6-4.  The Royals put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth, getting a double from Aaron Guiel and singled from Beltran and Sweeney to cut the margin to 6-5, but left the tying run on third.  The Royals again got the tying run to third in the eighth, getting a walk from Luis Ordaz and a single from Sweeney, but Raul Ibanez grounded out to end the threat.  With two out in the ninth, Chuck Knoblauch and Kit Pellow singled and Ordaz walked to load the bases, but Guardado struck out Guiel to end the game.

WP:  Brad Radke (6-3).  LP:  Paul Byrd (14-10).  S:  Guardado (36).

Notes:  Ortiz was at first base, with Doug Mientkiewicz out of the lineup.  Matthew LeCroy was the DH, going 0-for-3 with a walk.

Hocking was at second base, with Luis Rivas out of the lineup.

Torii Hunter was 0-for-5, dropping his average to .298.  It was the first time he had been below .300 since June 27.  He would briefly get back above .300, but would fall under that mark for good by the end of August.

A. J. Pierzynski was 1-for-4 and was batting .302.

Radke struggled through 5.2 innings, giving up five runs on eleven hits and a walk and striking out two.

Hawkins lowered his ERA to 2.25.

Romero's ERA fell to 1.55.

Guardado's ERA was 2.72.

Byrd was the starter for Kansas City.  He struck out six in six innings, but gave up six runs on nine hits and three walks.

This was the last year of infielder Luis Alicea's career.  It was a better one than you might remember, covering thirteen seasons.  He was drafted by St. Louis in the first round in 1986.  He made his major league debut in late April of 1988, taking over the second base job after Tom Herr was traded.  He fielded the position well, but did not hit and went back to AAA in late July, coming back as a September call-up.  He would not get back to the majors until 1991.  He struggled through a mediocre year in AAA in 1989 and had an injury-plagued 1990.  He was batting .393 in 121 at-bats in Louisville when he was called up in 1991.  He was with the Cardinals the rest of the season but was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter, getting just eleven games at second base as Joe Torre played Jose Oquendo and Geronimo Pena at second.  He was a semi-regular second baseman for the Cardinals from 1992-1994, sharing time with Pena, and did fairly well.  His best year there was the last one, when he batted .278/.373/.459.  He was traded to Boston for the 1995 season and had a solid year for them, but was put on waivers at the end of 1996 spring training as the Red Sox preferred to go with Jeff Frye.  St. Louis claimed him and put him back at second, where he again did a solid job.  He went to Anaheim for 1997, was with Texas from 1998-2000, and was with the Royals from 2001-2002.  His first couple of years and his last one drive his career averages down, but for most of his career he would generally bat about .270, have an OBP in the .360s, and hit 15-20 doubles.  That's not going to get you on the all-star team, but it's a solid contribution.  He was a major and minor league coach for a while, and at last report operated the Crush It Baseball Academy in West Palm Beach.

Record:  The Twins were 78-53, in first place, leading Chicago by seventeen games.

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty

MINNESOTA 9, KANSAS CITY 2 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Friday, August 23.

Batting stars:  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs.  Corey Koskie was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Cristian Guzman was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Rick Reed pitched seven innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits and striking out five.  Mike Jackson struck out two in two perfect innings.

Opposition stars:  Raul Ibanez was 2-for-4 with a double.  Michael Tucker was 1-for-4 with a triple.  Scott Mullen pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

The game:  The Twins scored five in the second to put the game out of reach early.  With one out, Doug Mientkiewicz and Bobby Kielty singled and Pierzynski had an RBI double to put the Twins on the board.  A ground out made it 2-0.  The Twins then got consecutive two-out RBI singles from GuzmanKoskie, and David Ortiz to take a 5-0 lead.  The Royals got both of their runs in the fourth, when Ibanez doubled and scored on a Tucker triple.  Tucker later scored on an error.  Pierzynski singled home a run in the fifth to make it 6-2.  In the sixth, Jacque Jones singled and scored on a single-plus-error by Guzman.  Koskie singled to move Guzman to third and a double play brought him home to round out the scoring.  Kansas City got a one-out single in the sixth and did not get a baserunner after that.

WP:  Reed (12-6).  LP:  Jeff Suppan (8-14).  S:  None.

Notes:  Torii Hunter was 0-for-3 to make his average .301.

Pierzynski raised his average to .302.

Guzman had a twenty-one game hitting streak going.  Starting with the first of August, he was 32-for-89, a .360 batting average.  It was nearly all singles, with just four doubles and two home runs.  He had ten RBIs and had drawn two walks during the streak.

In his last three starts, Reed had pitched 23 innings and giving up just four runs (three earned) on 17 hits and 1 walk with 16 strikeouts.  He won all three games and had an ERA of 1.57.

Suppan pitched five innings, giving up nine runs on ten hits and five walks with no strikeouts.  It was the fourth consecutive poor start for Suppan, who gave up 25 runs in 22.1 innings for an ERA of 10.07.  He lost all four.

This was the best year of left-handed reliever Scott Mullen's career.  He was drafted by Kansas City in the seventh round in 1996.  He was a starting pitcher until 2000, when he was switched to relief.  He had a fine season in Omaha that year and was called up at the end of August.  He pitched very well in relief for the Royals until his last game of the season, when he gave up four runs in an inning and raised his ERA from 0.96 to 4.35 (10.1 innings).  He did not have a good year in Omaha in 2001 but was called up to Kansas City in mid-August anyway.  Again, he did well until the end, giving up three runs in one inning to raise his ERA from 2.00 to 4.50 (10 innings).  He started 2002 in Omaha again, but this time was brought up in mid-June and pitched well through the end of the season (although he again had a poor last game).  He went 4-5, 3.15, 1.33 WHIP.  It apparently didn't impress anyone, though, as he was back in Omaha at the start of 2003 and, after a brief call-up in May, was traded to the Dodgers.  He made on appearance for them, on August 3, and never appeared in the majors again.  He kept pitching, though.  He went to Japan for 2004, came back to the United States for 2005, but made just one AAA appearance before going back to Japan for the balance of the season, and was in AAA for Atlanta in 2006.  His major league record is 4-5, 4.66, 1.64 WHIP in 75 games (67.2 innings).  If you took out the last game of each of his big league seasons, his numbers would be 4-4, 3.06 in 71 games (61.2 innings).  I don't know that it would've made a difference in his career--he walked too many and lacked a strikeout pitch, walking 35 and striking out 35 in his career.  It would sure make his career numbers look better, though.  He was a high school baseball coach at his alma matter in  Beaufort, South Carolina for two seasons, winning a regional coach of the year both times.  He resigned in 2013, however, and no information regarding what Scott Mullen has been doing since then was readily available.

Record:  The Twins were 77-53, in first place, leading Chicago by seventeen games.

2002 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twenty-nine

MINNESOTA 8, KANSAS CITY 6 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Thursday, August 22.

Batting stars:  Cristian Guzman was 3-for-5 with a home run (his eighth), a double, and three RBIs.  Luis Rivas was 2-for-4 with a home run (his fourth) and a double.  Jacque Jones was 2-for-5 with a home run, his twenty-third.

Pitching stars:  Johan Santana pitched six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks and striking out five.  J. C. Romero retired all four batters he faced, striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Raul Ibanez was 3-for-5 with three RBIs.  Mike Sweeney was 2-for-3 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.  A. J. Hinch wsa 2-for-4 with a double.

The game:  The Twins jumped on Kansas City starter Runelvys Hernandez for three runs in the first inning.  Jones led off the game with a home run.  Guzman followed with a double.  With two out, Torii Hunter had an RBI single and stole second.  Doug Mientkiewicz doubled him home to make it 3-0.  Raul Ibanez singled home a run in the bottom of the first to make it 3-1.  In the third, Carlos Beltran homered and Ibanez delivered another RBI single to tie it 3-3.  It stayed tied until the fifth, when Rivas doubled and scored on a Guzman single to give the Twins a 4-3 lead.  Guzman struck again in the seventh, hitting a two-run homer to make it 6-3.  The Twins added two more in the eighth on a two-run homer by Rivas.  They needed them, because the Royals scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth.  Luis Ordaz and Chuck Knoblauch singled, putting men on first and third with one out.  Beltran grounded out, bringing in a run.  Mike Sweeney walked, followed by singles by Joe Randa and Ibanez, making the score 8-6 with men on first and third.  Kit Pellow then hit a fly ball to deep center field to end the game.

WP:  Santana (7-5).  LP:  Hernandez (3-2).  S:  Eddie Guardado (35).

Notes:  I suspect there were not very many games in which Guzman and Rivas combined for two home runs, two doubles, and five RBIs.

Torii Hunter was 1-for-4 to make his average .303.

A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4 to get his average back up to .301.

Tony Fiore pitched two-thirds of an inning without giving up a run, getting his ERA back down to 2.92.

Romero lowered his ERA to 1.58.

Eddie Guardado came in with two out in the ninth and the score 8-5.  He gave up the single to Ibanez, then retired Pellow to end the game.  He lowered his ERA to 2.77.

This was the sixth major league start for Runelvys Hernandez.  In his first five, he had gone 3-1, 3.03.  In his next five, including this one, he would go 1-3, 6.10.  He was twenty-four at this point, having been signed as a free agent in 1997.  My guess is that he was in a foreign developmental league for a while, because b-r.com doesn't give anything for him until 2001, when he was at Class A Burlington.  He was pitching well in AA Wichita in 2002 when the Royals called him up in late July.  Overall, his 2002 numbers weren't bad for a rookie with that little experience:  4-4, 4.36, 1.36 WHIP.  He got off to a tremendous start in 2003, going 4-0, 1.36 in six April starts.  He then got hurt, struggled through three May starts, went on the disabled list for two months, and was never the same pitcher again.  He tried to come back in July, making seven starts, but then missed the entire 2004 season with Tommy John surgery.  We've heard a lot of success stories from pitchers after Tommy John surgery, but he wasn't one of them.  He struggled through a poor 2005, was no better in 2006 (when he went back to AAA for a month and a half, and then became a free agent.  He was signed and released three times in 2007, by Boston, the Yankees, and PIttsburgh, not appearing in the majors with any of them.  He signed with Houston for 2008 and got four more starts in the majors, but did not pitch well in any of them.  He pitched in Korea in 2009, in Mexico in 2010, and played winter ball through 2012-13.  Then Runelvys left the building for good.  His record was 25-36, 5.50, 1.55 WHIP in 454.2 innings (82 starts), but his is truly a story of what might have been.  No information about what Runelvys Hernandez is doing these days was readily available.

Record:  The Twins were 76-53, in first place, leading Chicago by sixteen games.