Tag Archives: 2003 rewind

2003 Rewind: Game Twenty-six

MINNESOTA 8, TAMPA BAY 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, April 30.

Batting stars:  Jacque Jones was 3-for-5 with a double and two runs.  Torii Hunter was 1-for-3 with a three-run homer (his third) and a walk.

Pitching star:  Johan Santana struck out three in 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Carl Crawford was 2-for-4 with a triple, a double, a walk, and three runs.  Rey Ordonez was 2-for-4.  Rocco Baldelli was 2-for-5 with a home run, a double, and five RBIs.  Travis Harper pitched two perfect innings of relief.

The Devil Rays opened the game with back-to-back doubles by Crawford and Baldelli to take a 1-0 lead.  The Twins responded with four in the bottom of the first.  Jones led off with a single, Corey Koskie hit a one-out single, Todd Sears contributed an RBI double, and Hunter hit a three-run homer, making the score 4-1 Minnesota.

The Twins added two more in the second.  Tom Prince was hit by a pitch.  Luis Rivas had an RBI triple and scored on a Jones single, increasing the Twins' lead to 6-1.  Tampa Bay got back into the game in the third.  Ordonez singled, Crawford walked, and Baldelli hit a three-run homer to cut the margin to 6-4.

The Twins got some insurance in the fourth.  Rivas walked and Jones doubled, putting men on second and third with none out.  Koskie's fielder's choice plated one run and a ground out brought home another, making the score 8-4.

The Devil Rays threatened in the sixth, as with two out they loaded the bases on two hit batsmen and a walk, but Ordonez flied to right to end the inning.  They got a run in the ninth when Crawford tripled and scored on a ground out, but never got the tying run as far as the on-deck circle again.

WP:  Brad Radke (2-3).  LP:  Seth McClung (2-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Prince was behind the plate, replacing A. J. Pierzynski.  Bobby Kielty was in right field.  Sears was the DH.  There were no in-game lineup substitutions.

Jones raised his average to .326.  Kielty was 0-for-3 and fell to .324.

Radke pitched well other than the three-run homer, but his line was 5.2 innings, four runs, seven hits, one walk, and three strikeouts.  His season ERA was 6.29.  It would not be that high again the rest of the season, but it would be a long time before he got it below five.

Santana lowered his ERA to 0.95.  Tony Fiore gave up one run in one inning to make his ERA 6.59.

McClung started for Tampa Bay, but lasted just 1.1 innings.  He allowed six runs on six hits and no walks and struck out one.

Sears had hit very well in AAA Edmonton for two seasons, but had the misfortune to be a first baseman who was ready for the majors when the Twins already had Doug Mientkiewicz and had Justin Morneau coming up.  As a result, he only got seventy-seven at-bats with the Twins, fourteen of them as a pinch-hitter.  He batted .260/.326/.390 in that time.  The Twins traded him to San Diego in September.  He bounced around for several years before his playing career ended after the 2007 season.

Record:  The Twins were 12-14, in third place in the American League Central, six games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game Twenty-five

MINNESOTA 5, TAMPA BAY 3 IN MINNESOTA

Batting stars:  Jacque Jones was 2-for-4.  Cristian Guzman was 2-for-4.  Corey Koskie was 1-for-3 with a home run (his third), a walk, and three RBIs.  Torii Hunter was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.

Pitching stars:  Kenny Rogers pitched seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits and no walks and striking out four.  Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Aubrey Huff was 3-for-4 with a home run, his fourth.  Chris Truby was 2-for-3.

The game:  Jones and Guzman started the bottom of the first with singles, and an infield out produced a run.  Huff homered opening the second to tie it 1-1.  The Twins had men on first and second with none out in the second, but three fly balls ended the inning.

The Twins took the lead in the third.  Guzman again singled, but this time Koskie followed with a two-run homer.  Hunter homered later in the inning to give the Twins a 4-1 lead.

The Devil Rays didn't give up.  In the seventh Damion Easley reached on an error with one out.  Singles by Truby and Toby Hall loaded the bases, and a ground out cut the lead to 4-2.  In the eighth, Terry Shumpert doubled and Travis Lee singled to make it 4-3.  Huff singled to put the go-ahead run on with one out, but LaTroy Hawkins came on to retire the next two batters and preserve the lead.

The Twins got an insurance run in the ninth.  Todd Sears led off with a double, an error put men on first and third, and a ground out made it 5-3.  Rey Ordonez hit a one-out double in the ninth, but that was all Tampa Bay could do.

WP:  Rogers (3-1).  LP:  Jorge Sosa (1-3).  S:  Guardado (7).

Notes:  Bobby Kielty was in right field.  Sears was the DH.

Dustan Mohr pinch-ran for Sears in the ninth.

Kielty was 1-for-3 with a walk and was batting .338.  Jones raised his average to .311.

Luis Rivas was 0-for-3 and was batting .194.

Hawkins' ERA remained at zero.  Guardado's ERA was 0.93.

This was the first game of the season for Sears.  He had appeared in seven games in 2002 as a September call-up.

The Devil Rays' center fielder was some guy named Rocco Baldelli.  I wonder what ever happened to him.

Huff was a better player than I remembered.  He played in thirteen seasons and batted .278/.342/.464.  He hit 242 career home runs.  2003 was his career high in homers, with 34.  He batted .311 in 2003, second only to his .313 average in 2002.  His OBP was .367, second only to his .385 mark in 2010.  His slugging average of .555 was his career high, as was his .922 OPS.  He never made an all-star team, but he received MVP votes three times (seventh was his highest finish, in 2010) and won a Silver Slugger award in 2008.  A very respectable career.

This was only the Twins' second win in their last ten games.

Record:  The Twins were 11-14, in third place in the American League Central, seven games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game Twenty-four

CHICAGO 3, MINNESOTA 1 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Sunday, April 27.

Batting stars:  None.

Pitching stars:  Rick Reed pitched seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on three hits and one walk and striking out five.  Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Esteban Loiaza struck out eight in seven innings, giving up one run on six hits and no walks.  Damaso Marte struck out two in two perfect innings.  Jose Valentin was 1-for-3 with a home run, his sixth.

The game:  The Twins got a pair of singles in the first but did nothing with them.  Valentin homered with one out in the bottom of the first to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.  They made it 2-0 in the second.  Brian Daubach walked, Carlos Lee reached on an error, and the two then pulled off a double steal of second and home.

The Twins got on the board in the fourth when Torii Hunter had a two-out double and scored on an A. J. Pierzynski single.  Chicago got the run right back in the bottom of the fourth.  Magglio Ordonez led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by Lee, putting the White Sox up 3-1.

And that was it.  The Twins had only two hits after that, both singles, and neither man got past first base.  Chicago didn't do any more on offense either, but they didn't need to, and the game ended with a 3-1 score.

WP:  Loaiza (5-0).  LP:  Reed (1-4).  S:  Marte (1).

Notes:  Michael Cuddyer was at first base in place of Doug Mientkiewicz.  Chris Gomez was at second base in place of Luis Rivas.  Bobby Kielty was at DH in place of Matthew LeCroy.

The Twins made no in-game lineup substitutions.

Kielty was 1-for-4 and was batting .339.  Gomez was 0-for-3 and fell to .310.  Jacque Jones was 1-for-4 and was batting .302.

Dustan Mohr was 0-for-3 and was batting .125.  Cuddyer was 0-for-3 and was batting .197.

By game scores, this was tied for the second-best game of the season for Reed, and was his best of the season so far.  It dropped his ERA to a still-high 6.26.  Guardado lowered his ERA to 1.04.

This was easily Loaiza's best season.  He went 21-9, 2.90, 1.11 WHIP.  He led the league in strikeouts and finished second in Cy Young voting to Roy Halladay.  It was the only season in which he had an ERA under three, and one of only two seasons in which he had an ERA under four.  I don't know what was different about 2003, but it is really an outlier in his career.  His career numbers are 126-114, 4.65, 1.41 WHIP.

The White Sox really didn't have a closer in 2003, with Tom Gordon (12 saves), Billy Koch (11), and Marte (11), sharing the job.  And it really does look like sharing the job--it doesn't appear that they went with one, then another, then another.

This was Cuddyer's first appearance at first base in 2003.  He would play just a few more games before being sent back to Rochester, not returning until September.

The Twins had now lost eight out of nine games.

Record:  The Twins were 10-14, in third place in the American League Central, eight games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game Twenty-three

CHICAGO 7, MINNESOTA 4 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Saturday, April 26.

Batting stars:  Jacque Jones was 2-for-5.  Michael Cuddyer was 1-for-1 with a two-run homer, his second.  Corey Koskie was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.  A. J. Pierzynski was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.

Pitching star:  Mike Fetters pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:   Carlos Lee was 3-for-4 with a home run (his sixth), two doubles, and two runs. Jon Garland pitched 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks and striking out five.  Tom Gordon struck out three in 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.  Frank Thomas was 2-for-3 with a home run (his fifth), two walks, and two runs.  Magglio Ordonez was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his fourth and fifth) and three RBIs.

The game:  There were no hits on either side until the second, when Lee hit a two-out two-run homer.  Pierzynski matched it with a leadoff home run in the third, so it was 1-1.  The Twins put two on with one out, but could do no more.

The White Sox took control in the fourth.  Thomas and Ordonez led off the inning with home runs.  Lee hit a one-out double and Joe Crede had a two-out RBI single to make it 4-1.  They added another run in the fifth.  Jose Valentin walked, Thomas singled, and Ordonez was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with one out.  Brian Daubach then singled home a run.  Fetters came in to retire the next two batters and hold the score at 5-1.

Koskie homered in the sixth to make it 5-2, but that was as close as the Twins would come.  Ordonez hit a two-run homer in the eighth to build the lead to 7-2.  Cuddyer hit a pinch-hit two-run homer to cut the margin back to three, but that was it.

WP:  Garland (1-2).  LP:  Kyle Lohse (2-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Chris Gomez was at second base in place of Luis Rivas.  Bobby Kielty was in right field.

Cuddyer pinch-hit for Gomez in the ninth.

Gomez was 0-for-3 and was batting .346.  Kielty was 0-for-4 and fell to .345.  Jones raised his average to .305.

Lohse struck out eight but lasted just 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and two walks.  This was the second poor game in a row for Lohse.  Over those two games, his ERA rose from 1.69 to 4.80.  It is, of course, still early in the season.

This was Garland's fifth start of the season, and only the second one that was any good.  His ERA at this point of the season was 6.49.  Garland made over 30 starts a year for nine consecutive seasons, and pitched over 190 innings in each of those seasons.  However, only twice in those nine seasons was his ERA below four and only two other times was it below 4.50.  What he did still has value, but of course he would have had more value if he'd actually been good in all those years.

I have no memory of Tom Gordon as a member of the White Sox.  This was his only year with them, but it was a darn good one:  7-6, 12 saves, 3.16, 1.19 WHIP.  He would go on to have two excellent years for the Yankees and one fine year for Philadelphia.  2006 was his last good season, but he would pitch for three more years before his career ended.  His earlier years, of course, were with Kansas City and Boston.  It was a pretty good career.  He led the league in saves i 1998 with 46.  He was second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1989 (behind Gregg Olson).  He made three all-star teams.  He also pitched in 21 seasons.  He won't make the Hall of Fame, but he had a career to be proud of.

With the loss, the Twins streak of series sweeps to start the season ended at seven.

Record:  The Twins were 10-13, in third place in the American League Central, eight games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game Twenty-two

MINNESOTA 6, CHICAGO 1 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Friday, April 25.

Batting stars:  Bobby Kielty was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer (his fourth), a walk, and two runs.  Matthew LeCroy was 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Joe Mays pitched seven innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out three.  LaTroy Hawkins pitched a perfect inning.  J. C. Romero pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Mark Buehrle pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks and striking out four.  Frank Thomas was 1-for-3 with a home run, his fourth.

The game:  The Twins jumped on Buehrle early, scoring three times in the first inning.  Dustan Mohr led off the game with a double and went to third on a ground out.  Kielty walked and Corey Koskie hit a sacrifice fly to get the Twins on the board.  Torii Hunter had an RBI triple to make it 2-0 and scored on LeCroy's single to make it 3-0.

That remained the score until the seventh, as neither team even threatened in innings two through six.  In fact, the White Sox did not get a baserunner until the fourth, when Thomas was hit by a pitch, and did not get a hit until the sixth, when Sandy Alomar singled.

In the seventh, however, Thomas homered to get Chicago on the board at 3-1.  Magglio Ordonez and Paul Konerko followed with singles, putting the tying run on base.  But Armando Rios hit into a double play and Joe Crede popped up to end the inning.

The Twins got the run back with interest in the eighth.  With one out, Cristian Guzman was hit by a pitch and Kielty followed with a two-run homer.  With two out Hunter reached on an error and Doug Mientkiewicz and LeCroy singled, bringing home another run to make the score 6-1.  The White Sox got only one baserunner after that.

WP:  Mays (3-2).  LP:  Buehrle (2-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Mohr led off and was in left field in place of Jacque Jones.  Kielty was in right field in place of Michael Cuddyer, who had started most of the games in right field to this point.

Kielty raised his average to .370.  Mohr was 1-for-5 and raised his average to .135.

Hawkins maintained his ERA of zero.

By game scores, this was Mays' best game of the season, at 68.  He'd had a score of 63 on April 2.  He would have only three more starts about fifty and only one above sixty.

The White Sox used two players who would have connections to the Twins:  D'Angelo Jimenez and Crede.

The win snapped a six-game losing streak for the Twins.  So far this season the Twins have won three, lost six, won six, lost six, and now won one.  As we've pointed out, each of the seven series the Twins have played so far has been a sweep.  Having won the first game of this series, the were obviously hoping for another sweep.

Record:  The Twins were 10-12, in third place in the American League Central, seven games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game Twenty-one

KANSAS CITY 2, MINNESOTA 1 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Thursday, April 24.

Batting stars:  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-3.  Torii Hunter was 2-for-4.

Pitching star:  Brad Radke pitched an eight-inning complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and one walk and striking out four.

Opposition stars:  Chris George pitched six innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks and striking out three.  Jason Grimsley pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.  Carlos Febles was 2-for-3 with a stolen base.  Mike Sweeney was 1-for-2 with a home run (his fourth) and a stolen base.

The game:  The Twins got a pair of one-out singles in the first but did not score.  Neither team threatened after that until the fourth, when Sweeney hit a two-out home run to put the Royals up 1-0.  The Twins tied it in the sixth with a two-out rally:  Bobby Kielty walked and singles by Corey Koskie and Hunter plated the run.

Kansas City went back in front in the bottom of the sixth.  Febles led off with a single and scored from first on a one-out double by Joe Randa.

And that was it.  The Royals did not get a man on base after the sixth, but it didn't matter.  The Twins got a couple of singles, but never advanced a man past first base.

WP:  George (3-1).  LP:  Radke (1-3).  S:  Mike MacDougal (9).

NotesMichael Cuddyer was again in right field.  Kielty was again the DH.  There were no in-game lineup substitutions.

Kielty was 1-for-3 with a walk and was batting .340.  Cuddyer was 0-for-3 and was batting .193.

Radke lowered his ERA to 6.28.  This was the first of three complete games Radke had in 2003.  He had 37 for his career.  By game scores this was his second-best game of the season, topped only by a complete game shutout on August 26.

After a lowpoint of .111 on April 11, Hunter finally climbed above the Mendoza line to stay at .216.  It seems like he was pretty hot-and-cold in 2003, posting averages by month of :.217, .269, .273, .229, .233, and .284.  On thinking about it, though, I wonder just how unusual that really is.  Everyone bounces up and down over the course of a season--how much variance is "normal" and how much is "unusual"?  I don't really know.

I kind of remember Joe Randa as a Twins killer, but he really wasn't.  He batted .275/.315/.404 for his career against the Twins and .264/.293/.431 against them in 2003.  His overall career numbers are .284/.339/.426, so he actually was worse against the Twins than against the rest of MLB.  Maybe I just remember a few big hits he got or something.

I didn't actually go through his whole career to check, but this has to be one of the best games Chris George ever pitched.  By game scores it was the second-best of the season, topped only by his first game of the season, when he pitched 6.2 innings and also gave up one run on five hits.  He made eighteen starts in 2003 and had an ERA of 7.11 with a WHIP of 1.75.  Somehow he went 9-6, which is probably why he was allowed to make 18 starts.  It's not like this was just a bad year--for his career he was 14-20, 6.48, 1.66 WHIP in 237.1 innings (47 games, 44 starts).  His "best" season was his first one, 2001, when he went 4-8, 5.59, 1.37 WHIP in 13 starts.  In his defense, he was rushed to the majors at age 21 on the strength of 18 AA starts in which he went 8-5, 3.14, but with a WHIP of 1.47.  He was on the Omaha/Kansas City shuttle from 2001--2004, spent all of 2005 in Omaha, then became a free agent.  He was with several organizations after that, but never made it to the majors.  Would more time in the minors when he was younger have helped?  It's hard to say.  It wouldn't have hurt, but at the same time, his career AAA numbers are 66-73, 4.95, 1.52 WHIP in 1223 innings.  It seems more likely that he just was never that good in the first place.

This made six losses in a row for the Twins, and was the seventh series sweep they'd been involved in at the start of the season.

Record:  The Twins were 9-12, in third place in the American League Central, eight games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game Nineteen

NEW YORK 15, MINNESOTA 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Monday, April 21.

Batting stars:  Matthew LeCroy was 2-for-4.  Dustan Mohr was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.

Pitching star:  Tony Fiore struck out five in 3.2 innings, giving up one run on three hits and three walks.

Opposition stars:  David Wells pitched a complete game, giving up one run on seven hits and a walk and striking out three.  Erick Almonte was 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, and three runs.  Raul Mondesi was 3-for-4 with a double and a hit-by-pitch.  Nick Johnson was 3-for-5 with two home runs (his second and third), a walk, three runs, and four RBIs.  John Flaherty was 2-for-5 with two runs.  Alfonso Soriano was 1-for-5 with a grand slam (his seventh homer) a walk, and two runs.  Bernie Williams was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer (his fifth) and a walk.

The game:  I see no need to give play-by-play of all fifteen of the Yankees' runs.  Johnson hit a two-run homer in a three-run third.  Soriano hit a grand slam in the fourth to make it 7-0.  A walk and five singles in the fifth made it 11-0.  Johnson homered again in the seventh to make it 12-0.

The Twins avoided the shutout when Mohr homered leading off the eighth.  Williams hit a two-run homer in a three-run ninth.

WP:  Wells (3-0).  LP:  Rick Reed (1-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Tom Prince was behind the plate in place of A. J. PierzynskiLeCroy was at first base in place of Doug Mientkiewicz.  Chris Gomez was at third in place of Corey Koskie.  Mohr was in left field in place of Jacque Jones.  Bobby Kielty was in center in place of Torii Hunter, who was the DH.  Michael Cuddyer was again in right field.

Denny Hocking came in to play third base in the seventh inning.  Gomez moved to second and Luis Rivas came out of the game.

Gomez was 0-for-4 and was batting .391.  Kielty was 1-for-4 and was batting .356.  Prince was 1-for-3 and was batting .333.

Mohr raised his average to .125.  Hocking was 0-for-1 and was batting .133.  Hunter was 1-for-3 with a walk and was batting .179.

By game scores, this was Reed's worst game of the season.  He lasted 4.1 innings and surrendered 11 runs (10 earned) on 10 hits and 3 walks.  He struck out four and had a game score of 2.  His ERA went up to 7.52.  The good news, if you want to call it that, is that this is as high as his ERA would ever go this season.

Fiore got his ERA down to 6.39.

This was the only three-hit game of Erick Almonte's career.  He was the Yankees' starting shortstop from the start of the season until early May, due to an injury to Derek Jeter.  It was the only time he was a starter in his career.  Of his 133 career at-bats, 100 of them came in 2003--he had 4 in 2001 and 29 in 2011, when he was with Milwaukee.  He was in the Yankee organization through 2003, was in the Rockies' chain in 2004, was in Japan in 2005, played independent ball in 2006, was in the Detroit organization from 2007-2008, was with the Brewers from 2009-2012, and played in Mexico in 2013.  His AAA numbers are .283/.361/.424, not bad numbers at all.  In the majors, however, he batted .233/.282/.331.  I don't know about his fielding, but he batted well enough in the minors to think he could've helped someone in the big leagues.  This was his only chance to do it, though, and while he batted .260/.321/.350 he wasn't going to beat out Derek Jeter no matter what he did.

So the Twins have now begun their season with six series sweeps.  They won three, lost six, won six, and now have lost seven.  We'll see if another series sweep awaits when they head to Kansas City.

Record:  The Twins were 9-10, in third place in the American League Central, six games behind Kansas City.

 

2003 Rewind: Game Seventeen

NEW YORK 4, MINNESOTA 2 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, April 19.

Batting stars:  Torii Hunter was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Jacque Jones was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, his fourth.

Pitching stars:  J. C. Romero struck out two in 1.1 innings, giving up two walks.  LaTroy Hawkins pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Andy Pettitte pitched 7.1 innings, giving up two runs on six hits and two walks and striking out seven.  Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, his fourth.  Bernie Williams was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his third.  Raul Mondesi was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fifth.

The game:  Soriano led off the game with a single and Nick Johnson followed with a walk.  The next two batters went out, but Hideki Matsui had an RBI single to put the Yankees up 1-0.  The Twins got the run back in the bottom of the first.  Jones singled and stole second, and with two out Hunter delivered an RBI single to tie it 1-1.

The Twins took the lead in the fourth.  With two out Bobby Kielty doubled and scored on an A. J. Pierzynski single to put the Twins up 2-1.  In the sixth, however, Jason Giambi walked and Williams followed with a two-run homer to put New York in front 3-2.  Mondesi homered in the seventh to make it 4-2.

The Twins threatened in the late innings, but to no avail.  They put two on with one out in the eighth, but a pair of strikeouts ended that inning.  They put two on with two out in the ninth, but again, a strikeout ended the inning and this time the game.

WP:  Pettitte (3-0).  LP:  Joe Mays (2-2).  S:  Juan Acevedo (3).

Notes:  Michael Cuddyer was again in right field.  Kielty was the DH.

Matthew LeCroy pinch-hit for Luis Rivas in the ninth.  Denny Hocking then pinch-ran for LeCroy.  Dustan Mohr pinch-hit for Cristian Guzman in the ninth.

Kielty was 1-for-4 and was batting .368.  Jones was batting .354.  Guzman was 0-for-4 and was batting .304.

Mohr was 0-for-4 and was batting .111.  Hunter raised his average to .180.

Mays wasn't terrible, but he wasn't particularly good, either.  6.2 innings, four runs, six hits, two walks, and four strikeouts.  His ERA was 5.96.

Romero lowered his ERA to 2.16.  Hawkins continued to have an ERA of zero through seven innings.

The Twins still had a chance to be involved in their sixth series sweep to open the season.

Record:  The Twins were 9-8, in third place in the American League Central, 4.5 games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game Sixteen

NEW YORK 11, MINNESOTA 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, April 18.

Batting stars:  Jacque Jones was 2-for-3 with a double.  Matthew LeCroy was 1-for-1 with a double and two RBIs.  Corey Koskie was 1-for-3 with two walks.

Pitching stars:  None.

Opposition stars:  Roger Clemens struck out eight in six innings, giving up one run on five hits and three walks.  Robin Ventura was 3-for-5 with two home runs (his fourth and fifth), three runs, and four RBIs.  Alfonso Soriano was 3-for-5 with a home run (his sixth) and two RBIs.  Hideki Matsui was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs.  Jorge Posada was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs.  Raul Mondesi was 1-for-2 with a home run (his fourth), two walks, and two RBIs.

The game:  Soriano led off the game with a home run, putting the Yankees up 1-0 (of course).  The Twins put two on with one out in the bottom of the first, but nothing came of it.  Ventura homered with one out in the second to make it 2-0.

The Twins had a chance for a big inning in the second, but could only score one.  Bobby Kielty walked and A. J. Pierzynski singled, putting men on first and third with none out.  But Michael Cuddyer hit into a double play, scoring Kielty but otherwise taking the Twins out of the inning.  Mondesi homered with two out in the fourth to get the run back and make the score 3-1.

The Twins got a man to second in the fourth and again in the fifth but could do nothing after that.  New York put the game away in the sixth.  Bernie Williams and Matsui opened the inning with singles.  Jorge Posada drove in one with a ground rule double and Ventura singled home another.  That chased Brad Radke from the game.  Tony Fiore came in, threw a wild pitch, then gave up a sacrifice fly.  Soriano had a run-scoring single to make the score 7-1 Yankees.

New York piled on in the seventh.  With two out Posada singled and Ventura hit a two-run homer, his second of the game, increasing the lead to 9-1.  The Twins scored a few in the eighth to make things sound a little better.  Denny Hocking and Koskie singled to start the inning.  With one out, LeCroy hit a two-run double and Kielty followed with a run-scoring double, cutting the margin to 9-4.  But in the ninth, Chris Latham singled, Matsui had an RBI double, and two wild pitches made the final tally 11-4.

WP:  Clemens (3-0).  LP:  Radke (1-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Cuddyer was in right field.  Kielty was the DH.

Dustan Mohr pinch-hit for Jones in the seventh and stayed in the game in left field.  Tom Prince came in to replace A. J. Pierzynski behind the plate in the eighth.  LeCroy replaced Doug Mientkiewicz at first base in the eighth.  Hocking replaced Cristian Guzman at shortstop in the eighth.

Kielty was 1-for-3 and was batting .382.  Jones raised his average to .350.  Prince walked in his only plate appearance and remained at .333.  Guzman was 0-for-3 and was batting .327.  Koskie raised his average to .308.

Mohr was 0-for-2 and was batting .115.  Hocking was 1-for-2 to raise his average to .154.  Torii Hunter was 0-for-4 and was batting .155.

Juan Rincon allowed two runs in 2.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.00.

Radke allowed seven runs on on nine hits and a walk in five innings.  His ERA was 7.84.  Tony Fiore allowed two runs in 1.2 innings.  His ERA was 7.88.

Three of Radke's four starts have had game scores under 50.  Two of them have had game scores under 25.

Ex-Twin Chris Latham came in to play center field for the Yankees in the seventh.

Clemens was forty in 2003, but was still one of the best pitchers in baseball.  He went 17-9, 3.91, 1.21 WHIP in 33 starts (211.2 innings).  He made the all-star team for the ninth time.

Ventura, on the other hand, was on the decline, although you couldn't prove it by this game.  The Yankees would trade him to the Dodgers at the July deadline for Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor.  These were two of just 14 home runs he would hit on the season, his lowest total since 1997, when he was injured much of the year.  His OPS of .741 was the lowest since his first full season in 1990.  He thirty-five, which is old in baseball but not that old.  But he was just about done.  He would play only one more season.

Having lost the first game of a four-game series, the Twins were hoping the string of sweeps would not continue.

Record:  The Twins were 9-7, third in the American League Central, 3.5 games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game Fifteen

MINNESOTA 6, DETROIT 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, April 17.

Batting stars:  Chris Gomez was 3-for-4.  Torii Hunter was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk.  Michael Cuddyer was 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk, and two runs.  Bobby Kielty was 2-for-4 with two home runs, his second and third.  Corey Koskie was 1-for-4 with a home run and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Kenny Rogers struck out nine in eight shutout innings, giving up seven hits and no walks.  Tony Fiore pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Eugene Kingsale was 2-for-3.  Omar Infante was 2-for-4.

The game:  The Twins did not have a big inning, but just eased out to a comfortable lead.  In the first, a single by Cristian Guzman and a double by Hunter led to a run.  Kielty homered leading off the second to make it 2-0.  Koskie homered with one out in the third to make it 3-0.  In the fourth, Cuddyer led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.

I don't know if there's ever been a game in which a team scored exactly one run in each inning, and sadly this would not be one.  The score remained 4-0 until the eighth.  The Tigers had a threat in the fifth when Infante led off with a double and Kingsale had an infield single with one out.  A strikeout and a ground out ended the threat, and Detroit would not threaten again.

The Twins got their final two runs in the eighth.  Kielty again lead off the inning with a home run.  With one out Cuddyer walked, went to third on a Gomez single, and scored on a sacrifice fly.

WP:  Rogers (2-0).  LP:  Jeremy Bonderman (0-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Gomez was at second base in place of Luis Rivas.  Kielty was in center field, with Hunter at DH.  Cuddyer was in right field.  The Twins made no position player substitutions.

Gomez was batting .467.  Kielty was batting .387.  Guzman was batting .347.  Jacque Jones was 0-for-4 and was batting .333.  Koskie was batting .306.

Rogers lowered his ERA to 3.50.  That was as low as it would get all season.  By game scores this was his second-best game of the season, topped only by a game in Kansas City in mid-August.

Six of the Tigers' starters had batting averages below .200:  Eric Munson (.175), Infante (.167), Carlos Pena (.167), Dean Palmer (.118), Brandon Inge (.091), and Hiram Bocachica (.045).

Jeremy Bonderman started for Detroit.  He pitched six innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on ten hits and a walk and striking out four.

This was the fifth consecutive series sweep the Twins were involved in at the start of the season.  They had been on the winning end of three and the losing end of two.  I don't know what the record is.  Of course, the year the Orioles started 0-21, they must have been on the losing end of several sweeps.

Record:  The Twins were 9-6, tied for second in the American League Central with Chicago, 2.5 games behind Kansas City.