Tag Archives: Bobby Witt–Twin killer

Random Rewind: 1990, Game One Hundred Fifty-two


Date:  Friday, September 21.

Batting star:  Pedro Munoz was 1-for-3.

Pitching stars:  Kevin Tapani pitched five innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out two.  Juan Berenguer pitched four innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out three.

Opposition stars:  Bobby Witt pitched a complete game, giving up one run on two hits and four walks and striking out eight.  Jack Daugherty was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.  Rafael Palmeiro was 2-for-4.  Ruben Sierra was 2-for-4.

The game:  The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the second.  Brian Harper and Paul Sorrento drew two-out walks and Munoz had an RBI single.  The Twins left the bases loaded, however, and it would cost them, as they never got a man into scoring position again.

In the fourth, singles by Julio Franco, Palmeiro, and Daugherty tied the score 1-1.  In the sixth, singles by Palmeiro, Sierra, and Daugherty put the Rangers ahead 2-1.

The Twins only had two hits in the game, Munoz' RBI single and a sixth-inning single by Kent Hrbek.

WP:  Witt (17-9).  LP:  Berenguer (8-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Al Newman was at shortstop in place of Greg Gagne.  Newman's primary position in 1990 was second base, but Nelson Liriano played second in this game.  Second base was pretty much a blank space in 1990, with NewmanLiriano, and Fred Manrique trying their best but failing to fill the position.  In 1991, of course, Chuck Knoblauch would solve this problem.

Munoz was in right field.  Shane Mack, who played all over the outfield in 1990, was in center, and Kirby Puckett, who of course was normally in center, played left.  The Twins really didn't have a regular right fielder in 1990.  Johnny Moses played the most games there, with fifty-two.  Mack had fifty-one, Gene Larkin forty-seven, Randy Bush thirty-one, Carmelo Castillo twenty, and Munoz nineteen.  Puckett played nine games there, and Jim Dwyer was out there for one.

Sorrento was the DH in this game.  That's another position at which the Twins did not have a regular.  Larkin was there for forty-three games, Castillo thirty-five, Bush twenty-seven, Sorrenty twenty-three, Dwyer twenty-two, Hrbek twenty, Harper eleven, and Moses ten, with eight other players serving in the role for single digits.

Bush pinch-hit for Mack in the eighth.  He remained in the game in right field, with Munoz moving to left and Puckett coming out of the game.

Mack was leading the team in batting at .318.  He would finish at .326.  No one else was over .300, although Puckett and Harper were in the .290s.

On the other end of the scale, Sorrento was batting .190.  He would finish at .207 in 135 plate appearances.

I don't know why Tapani only pitched five innings and threw just seventy-six pitches.  He was coming off three poor outings in a row, so possibly Tom Kelly decided to take the five good innings and not push any farther.  I also don't know why Berenguer pitched four innings.  The bullpen was not overtaxed, and there'd have been September call-ups anyway.  It was not as uncommon for relievers to go multiple innings back then, so maybe Kelly just saw no reason to take him out as long as he was pitching well.  The fact that this was a meaningless game in a lost season may have had to do with both decisions, also.

This was Bobby Witt's best season:  17-10, 3.36.  For his career he was not all that good--142-157, 4.83, 1.57 WHIP--but he was good in 1990.  I remembered him as a Twins killer, and I was right.  For his career he was 17-7, 3.63 against our boys.

Record:  The Twins were 68-84, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, twenty-nine games behind Oakland.  The would finish 74-88, in seventh place, twenty-nine games behind Oakland.

The Rangers were 80-70, in third place in the American League West, sixteen games behind Oakland.  They would finish 83-79, in third place, twenty games behind Oakland.

1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-eight


Date:  Tuesday, May 21.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 1-for-4 with a home run (his fifth) and three RBIs.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-2 with two walks.

Pitching star:  Terry Leach pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Rafael Palmeiro was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two walks.  Steve Buechele was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his sixth), two runs, and two RBIs.  Julio Franco was 2-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base, his fifth.

The game:  In the first inning, Dan Gladden got an infield single, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Puckett's sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  The Rangers tied it in the third on doubles by Jeff Huson and Palmeiro.  The Twins went back up 3-1 in the third when Chuck Knoblauch singled and Puckett followed with a two-run homer, but Texas tied it again in the fourth when Kevin Reimer singled and Buechele followed with a two-out two-run homer.

The Rangers went into the lead to stay in the fifth.  Palmerio hit a one-out double and scored on Franco's two-out single.  They added a couple of runs in the eighth.  Singles by Gino Petralli and Buechele and a walk to Huson loaded the bases with one out.  Jack Daugherty hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-3 and put men on first and third, Huson then stole second, Brian Harper threw the ball into center field, and Buechele scored to make it 6-3.

The Twins came back in the bottom of the eighth.  Hrbek singled and Chili Davis doubled to put men on second and third with none out.  With one down, Harper hit a two-run double to cut the margin to 6-5.  The tying run was in scoring position, but Randy Bush and Al Newman each grounded out to end the inning.  The Twins went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Bobby Witt (2-3).  LP:  Kevin Tapani (2-4).  S:  Jeff Russell (9).

Notes:  Bush was the right fielder in this game.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Mike Pagliarulo in the eighth, with Scott Leius coming in to play third.  Shane Mack pinch-ran for Harper in the eighth and remained in the game in right field, with Junior Ortiz coming in to catch.

Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .367.  Knoblauch was 1-for-4 and was batting .311.  Puckett's average went to .308.  Tapani had an ERA of 3.28.  Steve Bedrosian gave up two runs (one earned) in one inning and raised his ERA to 3.09.  Leach went down to 2.51.

Bush went 0-for-3 with a walk and was batting .184.

It was the fourth loss in a row for Tapani.  Over that span he had pitched to an ERA of 4.55 and his season ERA went from 2.10 to 3.28.  The Twins had scored a total of eight runs in those four games, with five of them obviously coming in this game.

Memory had told me that Bobby Witt always pitched well against the Twins.  Memory was right.  He was 17-7, 3.63, 1.36 WHIP against them.  That's the most wins he had against any team.  The only American League team against whom he had a better ERA was Boston (3.26).  This was the only start he would make against the Twins in 1991.  For his career, Witt was 142-157, 4.83, 1.57 WHIP.  Looking at that career, he wasn't nearly as good as I remembered him being, so I suppose his success against the Twins skewed my memory.

Record:  The Twins were 19-19, fifth in the American League West, four games behind Seattle.  They were a half game behind fourth-place California.