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.