CALIFORNIA 5, MINNESOTA 1 IN CALIFORNIA
Date: Sunday, May 16.
Batting stars: Butch Wynegar was 2-for-2 with two walks. Dave McKay was 2-for-4.
Pitching stars: None.
Opposition stars: Don Kirkwood pitched a complete game, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks and striking out five. Bill Melton was 2-for-4 with a triple. Andy Etchebarren was 2-for-4.
The game: The Twins got on the board in the second inning, as Danny Thompson singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on McKay's single. That was as good as it would get for the Twins.
The Angels took the lead in the third. Dave Chalk and Ron Jackson led off the game with a single. Jerry Remy laid down a sacrifice bunt, but an error scored Chalk and put men on second and third with none out. All California could get out of it was a sacrifice fly by Bobby Bonds, but the Angels led 2-1.
It stayed 2-1 until the seventh, when California scored two runs without a hit. With one out Chalk walked and Jackson was hit by a pitch. With two out, Rusty Torres walked to load the bases, Bonds was hit by a pitch to force home a run, and Leroy Stanton walked to bring home another run. The Angels added a run in the ninth when Bill Melton tripled and scored on Etchebarren's single.
The Twins did not get a man past first base after the second inning.
WP: Kirkwood (1-3). LP: Jim Hughes (0-3). S: None.
Notes: Danny Thompson was at shortstop. Roy Smalley would be the regular shortstop for most of the season, but he had not been traded from Texas yet.
Lyman Bostock, normally the center fielder, was given the day off. Larry Hisle moved over from left to play center, with Steve Braun taking over left.
The lone Twin over .300 who played in this game was Rod Carew, at .311. He would finish at .331. Bostock, at this point in the season, was batting .349 and would finish at .323.
The Twins did not hit a home run, which was a fairly common occurrence in 1976. Dan Ford led the team in homers with twenty. Others in double figures were Hisle (14), Craig Kusick (11), and Wynegar (10).
Twins starter Jim Hughes pitched 6.2 innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks and striking out two. Older fans may remember Hughes for throwing a palmball. Hughes had gone 16-14, 3.82 as a rookie in 1975, leading Twins fans to think they might have something. It was the only good year he would have. It could be that the workload got to him--he pitched 249.2 innings in 1975 at age twenty-three. Or, it could be that he wasn't that good in the first place--even in 1975, his WHIP was 1.47. He stayed in the 1976 rotation until early August, mostly because the Twins didn't have much for alternatives. He would make two relief appearances in 1977 and then would never pitch in the big leagues again.
Hisle batted leadoff in this game, one of eight times he did that in 1976. The fact that Bostock was out of the lineup probably had to do with that. Hisle batted all over the lineup in 1976, starting double digit games at every spot except first, eighth, and ninth, and starting at least a few games at every spot except ninth. Gene Mauch did love to play with the batting order.
The Twins were in the middle of a stretch where they won five of six. As randomness would have it, this was the one loss.
Record: The Twins were 14-13, in third place in the American League West, 3.5 games behind Texas. They would finish 85-77, in third place, five games behind Kansas City.
The Angels were 12-22, in sixth (last) place in the American League West, 10 games behind Texas. They would finish 76-86, tied for fourth with Texas, 14 games behind Kansas City.