MINNESOTA 5, DETROIT 4 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Saturday, May 11.
Batting stars: Brian Harper was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Chili Davis was 2-for-2 with a home run (his fifth) and two walks. Dan Gladden was 2-for-3 with a triple and two walks. Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.
Pitching stars: Carl Willis pitched three shutout innings of relief, giving up one hit and striking out two. Steve Bedrosian pitched a perfect inning. Rick Aguilera pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.
Opposition stars: Milt Cuyler was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases, his eighth and ninth. Travis Fryman was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his fourth) and a stolen base (his fourth). Jerry Don Gleaton pitched two shutout innings, giving up two walks and striking out one.
The game: The Tigers jumped on Twins starter Allan Anderson in the first inning. Singles by Tony Phillips and Alan Trammell and a walk to Rob Deer loaded the bases with none out. Cecil Fielder popped up, but Pete Incaviglia hit a sacrifice fly and Fryman delivered a three-run homer to give Detroit a 4-0 lead.
That was all they would get, though, and the Twins came back. They got on the board in the bottom of the first on singles by Knoblauch and Davis and an RBI double by Harper. The Tigers failed to score in the second despite having men on first and third with one out, and the Twins made them pay for it. Greg Gagne drew a one-out walk, and with two down Gladden tripled and Knoblauch doubled to cut the margin to 4-3 after two. The Twins struck again in the third, as Davis led off with a home run to tie it at four.
The Twins had three walks and a single in the fourth, but did not score due to a double play and Kirby Puckett being thrown out trying to score from second on a Harper hit. There was not much else in the middle innings, but in the seventh Puckett led off with a double. Davis was intentionally walked. Harper then got a bunt single which somehow led to Puckett scoring from second and Davis reaching third. There obviously must be more to the story, but in any event, the Twins took a 5-4 lead.
They lost a chance for more when Davis was thrown out at the plate on the back end of an attempted second-and-home double steal. It didn't matter, though, as Detroit could manage just one single in the last two innings.
WP: Willis (1-0). LP: Mike Henneman (3-1). S: Aguilera (6).
Notes: Pedro Munoz was again in right field. Gene Larkin was again at first base with Kent Hrbek out.
Harper raised his average to .377. Knoblauch went up to .315. Davis raised his average to .313. Puckett was 1-for-4 and was batting .310. Gagne was 0-for-3 with a walk and was batting .301. Bedrosian dropped his ERA to 3.38. Aguilera went down to 1.98.
Munoz was 0-for-3 with a walk and was batting .143. Scott Leius was 0-for-3 and was batting .161.
The double steal in the seventh came with Harper on first and Davis on third. I can't think of two players on the Twins at that time that I'd be less likely to try a double steal with. Junior Ortiz, maybe, but that's about it. They had the element of surprise going for them, but not much else. The Twins actually lost three men on the bases: in addition to Davis on the double steal and Puckett thrown out at the plate, Gladden was caught stealing in the eighth. If you include the two double plays they hit into, it's five men lost on the bases. They did not have a successful stolen base in the game.
Puckett was in somewhat of a slump, going 8-for-40 over his last ten games. His average dropped from .355 to .310 over that period.
The Twins got back to .500 in this game. I suspect most Twins fans were happy about that at the time. They'd finished last the year before, and had gotten off to the 2-9 start. A .500 record probably sounded pretty good.
Record: The Twins were 15-15, in fifth place in the American League West, four games behind Oakland. They were a half game behind California for fourth place.