Tag Archives: A.J. Pierzynski

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twenty-three


Date:  Saturday, August 16.

Batting stars:  Doug Mientkiewicz was 3-for-5 with a walk and two RBIs.  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4 with a double, a stolen base (his second), two runs, and two RBIs.  Dustan Mohr was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and two runs.  Luis Rivas was 2-for-5 with a walk and three runs.  Torii Hunter was 2-for-5 with three RBIs.

Pitching star:  Juan Rincon pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  Carlos Beltran was 3-for-4 with two home runs (his nineteenth and twentieth) and three RBIs.  Mendy Lopez was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his second.

The game:  The first two Twins batters went out.  Then Mientkiewicz walked, Corey Koskie singled, Jacque Jones and Hunter had RBI singles, and Pierzynski hit a two-run double, putting the Twins up 4-0.  The Royals responded in the bottom of the first, as Aaron Guiel doubled and Beltran hit a two-run homer, leaving the score 4-2 after one.

The Twins gradually pulled away.  In the second Mientkiewicz had an RBI single and Koskie hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2.  Cristian Guzman hit an RBI triple in the third to make it 7-2.  Hunter had a two-run single in the fourth to make it 9-2.  Shannon Stewart's RBI single in the fifth made it 10-2.

Beltran homered again in the sixth to cut the lead to 10-3.  The Twins responded with three in the seventh.  A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out.  MIentkiewicz had an RBI single, Pierzynski was hit by a pitch to force home a run, and a third run scored on a ground out.  Lopez hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.  The game's final run scored on Michael Ryan's sacrifice fly in the eighth.

WP:  Kyle Lohse (10-9).  LP:  Runelvys Hernandez (7-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Stewart was again in left, Mohr in right, and Jones at DH.  Denny Hocking replaced Koskie at third base in the seventh.  Ryan replaced Stewart in left in the seventh.  Michael Restovich entered the game in the ninth, going to right with Mohr going to center and Hunter coming out of the game.

Stewart was 1-for-3 and was batting .310.  Jones was 1-for-6 and was batting .309.  Koskie was 1-for-2 and was batting .302.

Lohse pitched seven innings, allowing five runs on six hits and no walks and striking out four.  He pitched well if you don't count the home runs, but of course the home runs do count.  His ERA went to 5.03.

This would be the last start of the season for Hernandez.  He would go on the disabled list, would not pitch at all the next season, and never really be any good again.  In this game he pitched 3.1 innings and allowed nine runs on nine hits and three walks, striking out one.

Pierzynski stole fifteen bases in his career.  His high for a season was three, set in this season and matched in 2010.  He was caught stealing twenty-three times in his career but only once in this season.

The Twins were not only getting back over .500, they had two consecutive wins over the first-place team in their ballpark.  They also caught up to second-place Chicago.  Could the Twins get a sweep?

Record:  The Twins were 63-60, tied for second with Chicago, two games behind Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Eight


Date:  Friday, August 1.

Batting stars:  A. J. Pierzynski was 3-for-4 with two doubles.  Shannon Stewart was 3-for-5 with a home run (his ninth), a double, and two RBIs.  Cristian Guzman was 2-for-4 with a double.  Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-4 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Lohse pitched six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and no walks and striking out two.  James Baldwin pitched three innings, giving up one run on five hits.

Opposition stars:  Ben Petrick was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer.  Carlos Pena was 2-for-4.  Alex Sanchez was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, his thirtieth.

The game:  Sanchez led off the game with a single, went to third on a pair of ground outs, and scored on a Kevin Witt single to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.  The Twins responded with five in the bottom of the first.  Stewart led off with a home run. Rivas singled, stole second, and scored on a Mientkiewicz single.  Jacque Jones singled to put men on first and third and then stole second.  A sacrifice fly scored a run, Michael Restovich walked, and Denny Hocking delivered a single-plus-error that scored two runs, making the score 5-1 Minnesota.

The Twins added three more in the third.  Torii Hunter and Pierzynski singled and Restovich followed with a two-run triple.  Hocking then hit a sacrifice fly to make it 8-1.

It was pretty much over from there.  Petrick hit a two-run homer in the fourth to make it 8-3.  Ramon Santiago homered in the seventh to make it 8-4.  The Twins added a run in the seventh when Hunter walked and scored on a Pierzynski double.  The last run came in the eighth when Guzman doubled and scored on a Stewart single.

WP:  Kyle Lohse (7-9).  LP:  Jeremy Bonderman (4-15).  S:  Baldwin (1).

Notes:  Hocking was at third in the continuing absence of Corey Koskie.  Stewart was in left and Restovich in right.  Jones was the DH.

Alex Prieto pinch-hit for Rivas in the eighth and stayed in the game at second base.

Restovich was batting .375.  Stewart was batting .319.  Jones was 1-for-5 and was batting .310.  Pierzynski was batting .303.

Lohse's ERA was 5.15.  Baldwin's ERA was 2.25.  The three-inning save was the first save of Baldwin's career.  He would get one more, with Texas in 2005.

Stewart was 27-for-56 in his last thirteen games.

Pierzynski was 7-for-10 in his last two games.

Kevin Witt was the Tigers' cleanup hitter.  If you don't remember him, it's understandable.  2003 was the only year he got significant major league playing time, playing in 93 games and getting 270 at-bats.  He wasn't awful, batting .263/.301/.407 with 10 homers, but he wasn't really good, either.  He was 27 that year, so that was probably as good as it was going to get, and as first baseman/DH he wasn't going to contribute enough on defense to get by with that level of offense.  He played a couple of years in Japan and really didn't get much accomplished there, either.  He has been a minor league coach for several seasons, and was with the Jupiter Hammerheads at last report.

When your team needed to get well in 2003, it was good to play Detroit.

The Twins had once again gotten back to .500.  Could they get over the hump this time?

Record:  The Twins were 54-54, in third place in the American League Central, 3.5 games behind Kansas City and Chicago, who were in a virtual tie for first.

2003 Rewind: Game Fifty-eight


Date:  Thursday, June 5.

Batting stars:  Cristian Guzman was 3-for-5 with a triple.  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.  Bobby Kielty was 2-for-4 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Lohse pitched eight innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and no walks and striking out three.  Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Benito Santiago was 2-for-4 with a double.  J. T. Snow was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, his third.  Jim Brower struck out four in three innings, giving up one run on two hits and a walk.

The game:  Guzman tripled with one out in the first and scored on a Doug Mientkiewicz single to put the Twins up 1-0.  Their first two batters in the second reached base, but it stayed 1-0 until the third.  Torii Hunter walked with one out, stole second, and scored on Kielty's single to make it 2-0.  In the fourth Chris Gomez doubled and scored on Guzman's single to boost the lead to 3-0.  In the fifth Kielty got a two-out single and scored on Pierzynski's triple to put the Twins ahead 4-0.

The Giants got back into the game in the bottom of the fifth when Santiago led off with a double and Snow followed with a two-run homer.  That was all they could do, however, and in the seventh Hunter walked, stole second, took third on a ground out, and scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2 Twins.

The Giants brought the tying run to bat in the eighth and the ninth, but did not score either time.  They had men on first and third with two out in the eighth, but Rich Aurelia grounded out.  Bonds walked to lead off the ninth and Santiago followed with a single, but the next three batters went out to end the game.

WP:  Lohse (5-4).  LP:  Jesse Foppert (3-5).  S:  Guardado (17).

Notes:  Gomez was at second base in place of Luis Rivas.  Kielty was in right field (there was no DH).  Dustan Mohr went to right in the ninth.

Jacque Jones was 0-for-5 and was batting .310.  He was on a 6-for-34 streak, dropping his average from .343.

Lohse's ERA was 3.01.  Guardado's ERA was 1.75.

Over his last six starts, Lohse was 3-1, 1.90.  He pitched at least 6.1 innings in all of them, at least eight in four of them, and had two complete games.  His ERA fell from 4.46.

Pierzynski hit 24 triples in his career, with a high of six in 2002.  Half of his career triples came with the Twins.

Benito Santiago seems to have kind of dropped out of memory, but early in his career he was as good a catcher as anyone.  He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1977.  He won four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves.  He made five all-star teams.  The thing is that he did all of that, except for one all-star team, in his first six full seasons.  He was still a decent player after that, though.  He played in twenty major league seasons, which is pretty good in and of itself.  I don't say he belongs in the Hall of Fame or anything, but he was one of the top catchers in baseball for several seasons.

Record:  The Twins were 33-25, in first place in the American League Central, 4.5 games ahead of Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game Forty-nine


Date:  Sunday, May 25.

Batting stars:  Torii Hunter was 2-for-2 with two walks.  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4 with a stolen base.  Chris Gomez was 2-for-4.  Dustan Mohr was 1-for-3 with a home run (his fifth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Rick Reed pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and no walks and striking out one.  LaTroy Hawkins pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Ryan Franklin pitched 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and four walks and striking out four.  Bret Boone was 2-for-4 with a home run (his twelfth) and a double.

The game:  Jacque Jones led off the game with a walk.  Corey Koskie drew a one-out walk, and Bobby Kielty singled to put the Twins up 1-0.  Mohr homered leading off the second to make it 2-0.

The Mariners had only three hits, all singles, through the first six innings and never got a man past first.  That changed in the seventh, when Boone led off with a home run to cut the Twins lead to 2-1.  The Twins got the run back in the eighth when Kielty singled, went to third on a stolen base-plus-passed ball, and scored on Hunter's single.

Seattle got a one-out double by Boone in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate.  A pair of fly outs ended the game.

WP:  Reed (3-5).  LP:  Ryan Franklin (3-3).  S:  Guardado (13).

Notes:  Todd Sears was at first base in place of Doug Mientkiewicz.  Mientkiewicz came in for defense in the eighth.  Gomez was at second in place of Luis Rivas.  Kielty was the DH.

Jones was 1-for-4 with a walk and was batting .343.  Mohr was batting .318.  Gomez raised his average to .313.

Hawkins lowered his ERA to 1.19.  Guardado lowered his ERA to 1.74.

This was the first of three stolen bases for Pierzynski in 2003.  Three was his career high, equalled in 2010.  For his career he had 15 stolen bases and was caught stealing 23 times.  I'm no sabremetrician, but I don't think that's a very good percentage.

I know Chris Gomez was a member of the Twins, but I don't have any actual memory of his time with the team.  Does anyone remember, were we excited about him at this point, when he was batting over .300?  Were we thinking he should replace Rivas at second base?  Or did we think that it was just a small sample size fluke, which it turned out to be?  I have no idea.

In his last three starts, Reed had pitched 22 innings and given up 4 runs on 19 hits and 3 walks.  He had lowered his ERA from 5.87 to 4.10.

Sears was sent back to AAA after this game.  He was batting .278/.365/.426, so it wasn't terribly fair, but Mientkiewicz was ready to resume regular duties at first base and there simply wasn't a spot for him.  He would come back for a couple of weeks in late July/early August, but then would be traded to San Diego for Alex Garcia, a middle infielder who couldn't hit.  He spent one year in Class A Quad Cities, then played two years of independent ball.

I don't remember Bret Boone as a slugger, but already hit his twelfth  home run of the season in this game.  He would hit 35 on the season.  He went through 2000, his age thirty-one season, only having hit 20 homers twice (24 in 1998, 20 in 1999).  Then, in his early-to-mid thirties, he hit 37, 24, 35, and 24 home runs.  A suspicious person might wonder if he had some help, although it should be pointed out that I'm aware of no evidence to support that suspicion.

The Twins had won four of five, seven of nine, nine of twelve, and fifteen of twenty, and nineteen of twenty-five.

Record:  The Twins were 29-20, in first place in the American League Central, 2.5 games ahead of Kansas City.

November 21, 1998: Random Day in Twins History

I used a random number generator to pick a season from the past with the idea that I would quickly highlight the Twins history that occurred today in that year.  The generator sent me to the year 1998.

The Twins concluded a sixth-consecutive losing season in 1998 and began to finally embrace a full rebuild.   Relatively cheap veterans Greg Swindell, Bob Tewksbury, Mike Morgan, Otis Nixon, and Orlando Merced were all traded during the season or allowed to leave as free agents.  Paul Molitor finally retired.

The STrib's John Millea noted, "Don't be surprised if the 1999 season is Tom Kelly's last as manager of the team.  The payroll is getting smaller, the players are getting younger, and Kelly's patience continues to wear thin.  He is at his best when the clubhouse is full of veterans who have been through the wars and earned their stripes.  Kelly is not exactly the fatherly type when it comes to youngsters, and sometimes that has resulted in strained relationships that can hinder the ballclub's progress."

Well, that wasn't entirely true.  1999 wasn't Kelly's last season with the team, although the payroll did get smaller and the roster got younger.  Who knows how Kelly's patience wore.  The sentence about striped veterans is the type of non-factual, journalistic mumbo-jumbo that would make Ken Tremendous a cult hero within years.

On this date, Terry Steinbach had filed for free agency and the Twins were mulling whether to bring him back.  Their internal candidates were Javier Valentin and A.J. Pierzynski, and the team did not believe either was fully ready for the next season.  Still, the team had been disappointed with Steinbach's production behind the plate the previous two years.

Postscript: On January 4, the Twins finally re-signed Steinbach.  Despite being nearly ready, it would take Pierzynski two more years to become the starting catcher mainly due to some, um, maturity issues.  One wonders at the official number of "wars" Pierzynski has endured in his career.

Did You Know that David Ortiz played in 86 games, and Torii Hunter played in 6 games that season?  On the mound, Eric Milton started 32 games that year.  Hunter has been retired for one season, and Ortiz just retired.  Milton was just 105 days older than Ortiz, and just 122 days older than Hunter, but  has not played in a game since June 27, 2009 even though he earned more than $47 million in his career.

Did You Also Know that the winning pitcher in Milton's last game was King Felix?

Furthermore, Did You Know that the final hitter Milton faced was Junior Griffey?