MINNESOTA 11, OAKLAND 5 IN OAKLAND
Date: Saturday, April 18.
Batting stars: Rod Carew was 5-for-5 with two runs. Tony Oliva was 4-for-5 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs. Cesar Tovar was 3-for-6 with two doubles and two runs. Brant Alyea was 2-for-4. Rick Renick was 2-for-5 with a grand slam and a double.
Pitching star: Ron Perranoski pitched four innings of relief, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out three.
Opposition stars: Roberto Pena was 3-for-4. Ex-Twin Don Mincher was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his second and third) and five RBIs.
The game: The Twins got another first inning run, as Tovar doubled, went to third on a Carew single, and scored on a sacrifice fly. But this time the Athletics came back with three in the bottom of the first. Felipe Alou led off with a double, Bob Johnson drew a one-out walk, and Mincher hit a two-out three-run homer to make it 3-1 Oakland.
The Athletics started the second with two singles, but did not score. In the fourth, the Twins came roaring back. Oliva doubled, Alyea singled, and Leo Cardenas walked, loading the bases. With one out, Renick hit a grand slam to put the Twins ahead 5-3. It did not kill the rally. The Twins got three singles and a walk and did not score, thanks to Tovar getting thrown out on the bases, but Oliva then delivered a two-run single and Alyea had an RBI single, making it 8-3 Minnesota.
Oakland tried to get back into it in the fifth. Rick Monday singled and Bob Johnson doubled, but Monday was thrown out trying to score. It hurt them, as Mincher hit a two-out two-run homer to cut the lead to 8-5.
The Twins put it away in the sixth. Tovar led off with a double and Carew singled him to third, with Carew taking second on a throw home. Harmon Killebrew then hit a sacrifice fly double play, with Tovar scoring but Carew thrown out going to third, making the score 9-5. Oliva then singled and scored on an error to make it 10-5. The Athletics put their first two men on in the sixth but did not score. The Twins added one more run in the eighth on singles by Carew, Oliva, and Jim Holt.
WP: Luis Tiant (1-0).
LP: Al Downing (1-1).
S: Perranoski (1).
Notes: Renick was at third base, with Killebrew moving to first and Rich Reese on the bench. Reese replaced Killebrew in the eighth inning. Holt replaced Alyea in left field in the sixth inning.
Oliva was batting .438. Alyea was batting .429. Holt was 1-for-1 and was also batting .429. Carew was batting .400. Renick was batting .333. Killebrew was batting .300. I know it's only the seventh game of the season, but it still seems unusual to have three regulars batting .400.
Tiant allowed five runs in five innings. He gave up eight hits and one walk and struck out four. His ERA was 6.75.
A three-inning save is not very common, so I have to think the four-inning save is even more unusual.
Downing was not even as good as Tiant, lasting just 3.1 innings and also allowing five runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out five.
Rollie Fingers came into the game in the fourth inning. He was only twenty-three in 1970, and even though he had led the team in saves in 1969 Oakland apparently had still not decided what to do with him. He would start 19 games and relieve in 26 in 1970. He was much better as a reliever: 2-1, 2.17, 1.11 WHIP, versus 4-8, 4.50, 1.33 WHIP as a starter. He would start only ten more games after this season, eight of them in 1971.
In addition to Mincher, ex-Twin Mudcat Grant came into the game, also in the fourth inning. He faced two men, giving up one hit.
Record: The Twins were 5-2, in first place in the American League West based on winning percentage, but a half game behind California.