Tag Archives: Brian Harper

Random Rewind: 1989, Game One Hundred Twenty-five


Date:  Wednesday, August 23.

Batting stars:  Greg Gagne was 4-for-5 with two doubles.  Kent Hrbek was 3-for-4 with two two-run homers (his nineteenth and twentieth) and three runs.  Tim Laudner was 2-for-4 with a double.  Brian Harper was 2-for-4 with two runs.

Pitching star:  Juan Berenguer struck out three in 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  Ozzie Guillen was 3-for-4.  Ivan Calderon was 3-for-5 with a home run (his twelfth) and two runs.  Carlos Martinez was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Carlton Fisk was 2-for-5 with a three-run homer, his tenth.  Sammy Sosa was 2-for-5.

The game:  The White Sox got two singles and a walk in the second but did not score.  In the bottom of the second, consecutive singles by HrbekDan GladdenCarmelo Castillo, and Laudner as well as a sacrifice fly by Al Newman put the Twins ahead 3-0.  In the third Harper singled and Hrbek hit a two-run homer, to make it 5-0.

Chicago put their first two men on in the fourth but did not score.  In the sixth, however, they got back into the game.  Calderon led off the inning with a home run.  With one out, consecutive singles by Martinez, Sosa, Steve Lyons, and Guillen and a run-scoring ground out produced three more runs, cutting the lead to 5-4.

The Twins increased their lead in the seventh when Harper singled and again Hrbek hit a two-run homer to make it 7-4.  They added a run in the eighth when John Moses singled, went to third on a ground out-plus-error, and scored on Gagne's single, making the score 8-4.

They needed them all.  With one out in the ninth, Scott Fletcher and Calderon singled and Fisk hit a three-run homer to cut the lead to 8-7.  The next two batters flied out, however, and the Twins held on to win.

WP:  Roy Smith (10-4).  LP:  Greg Hibbard (3-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Newman was at second base, as regular Wally Backman was given the day off.  Castillo was in right field in place of Randy Bush.  Bush was used as a pinch-hitter and stayed in the game in right field until the eighth, when Moses pinch-hit and then went to right field.  Laudner was the DH.  Jim Dwyer got the most games at DH with 73 and Gene Larkin had 41.  Others with double-digit games at DH were Harper (19), Laudner (19), Hrbek (18) and Castillo (16).

The Twins leading batter was Kirby Puckett at .333.  He would finish at .339.  Harper was batting .321.  He would finish at .325.  This was the first time Harper was actually given a starting job, at age twenty-nine, and he certainly made the most of it.

Smith started for the Twins and pitched 5.1 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits and two walks and striking out one.  He had pitched very well for the first five innings, but threw ninety-eight pitches.  1989 was his first full season, and it was his best:  10-6, 3.92, 1.34 WHIP.  He would play for two more seasons, but would not come close to matching those numbers.  He was a fairly big guy, 6'3", 200 pounds, but as I recall he did not throw very hard.  He struck out 4.7 betters per nine innings throughout his career, which would seem to support that memory.

Reardon had not pitched since August 19, and then faced just one batter, and so was presumably just brought in to get him some work.  It nearly backfired, as he gave up the three runs in the ninth.  The play-by-play indicates that the next batter hit a long fly ball, so he came close to allowing the tying run.  He did not have a particularly good season in 1989, going 5-4, 4.07, although with a WHIP of 1.10.  He had thirty-one saves, but with eight blown saves.

Hrbek would lead the team with twenty-five home runs.  Gaetti was second with nineteen.  Bush was the only other Twin in double figures, with fourteen.

White Sox starter Hibbard lasted just 1.2 innings.  He allowed three runs on six hits and no walks with no strikeouts.  Bill Long pitched five innings of relief, allowing three runs on six hits and no walks and striking out three.

Record:  The Twins were 61-64, in fifth place in the American League West, sixteen games behind Oakland.  They would finish 80-82, in fifth place, nineteen games behind Oakland.

The White Sox were 53-73, in sixth (last) place in the American League West, 24.5 games behind Oakland.  They would finish 69-92, in sixth place, 29.5 games behind Oakland.

1991 Rewind: Game Eighty-five


Date:  Friday, July 12.

Batting stars:  Mike Pagliarulo was 3-for-4.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-3.  Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-5 with a double, a stolen base (his ninth) and two runs.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer (his ninth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Paul Abbott struck out three in two perfect innings.  Steve Bedrosian pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Rick Aguilera struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Tom Brunansky was 2-for-4.  Tony Pena was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, his third.  Luis Rivera was 1-for-3 with a home run, his fifth.

The game:  The Twins took a 2-0 lead in the first, as Puckett had a two-out single and Hrbek followed with a home run.  It stayed 2-0 until the fifth.  Brunansky led off the inning with a single and Pena followed with a two-run homer.  Rivera made it back-to-back homers and the Red Sox led 3-2.  With one out, Jody Reed walked and stole second.  He went to third on a fly out and scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-2 Boston.

The Twins cut the lead to one in the bottom of the fifth, again with two out.  Knoblauch singled, stole second, and scored when Puckett reached on an error.   With one out in the sixth Pagliarulo and Shane Mack singled and Randy Bush walked, loading the bases.  A ground out scored a run and tied the score 4-4.

Knoblauch led off the seventh with a double and was bunted to third.  Chili Davis came through with an RBI single to give the Twins a 5-4 lead.  Boston got just one single after that and did not advance the man past first base.

WP:  Abbott (3-0).  LP:  Roger Clemens (11-6)  S:  Aguilera (23).

Notes:  Mack was in left with Dan Gladden still out.  Bush was in right.  Junior Ortiz was again behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.  Greg Gagne batted first.

Paul Sorrento pinch-hit for Ortiz in the sixth and hit the run-scoring ground out that tied the game.  Harper came in to catch.  Jarvis Brown went to right field for defense in the eighth, replacing Bush.

Puckett raised his average to .317.  Abbott lowered his ERA to 3.41.  Aguilera lowered his ERA to 2.68.

Sorrento's average fell to .154.

I don't know if Harper was battling a minor injury or if Tom Kelly simply was choosing to take advantage of Ortiz' defense.  If Harper was injured, it seems odd that he kept coming in to catch when Ortiz was pinch-hit for.  But it also seems odd that Kelly would prefer Ortiz' .203 average to Harper's .332, no matter how good his defense was.  At any rate, Harper would not start again until July 14.

Allan Anderson pitched five innings, giving up four runs on five hits and three walks and striking out one.  This would be his last start until late August.  He would make three relief appearances, then go back to AAA for a month before returning on August 23.

Roger Clemens started for the Red Sox and pitched 6.1 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on eleven hits and two walks and striking out six.  Clemens did just slightly better against the Twins in his career than he did overall.  He was 24-13, 2.97, 1.12 WHIP against Minnesota.  For his career he was 354-184, 3.12, 1.18 WHIP.

Texas lost to Toronto 6-2, so the Twins picked up a game in the standings.

Record:  The Twins were 49-36, in first place in the American League West, two games ahead of Texas.

1991 Rewind: Game Twenty-six


Date:  Tuesday, May 7.

Batting stars:  Chili Davis was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, and three RBIs.  Greg Gagne was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a stolen base (his second), and two runs.  Dan Gladden was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5.  Shane Mack was 1-for-2 with a three-run homer, his second.

Pitching star:  Scott Erickson pitched a complete game, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks and struck out five.  He threw 120 pitches.

Opposition stars:  Ellis Burks was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Carlos Quintana was 2-for-4.  Tom Brunansky was 1-for-3 with a walk and a three-run homer, his fifth.

The game:  It was close most of the way.  The Twins started the game with singles by GladdenChuck Knoblauch, and Puckett to take a 1-0 lead, but could do no more.  The Red Sox got two singles in the bottom of the first but still sent only three men to the plate, losing one runner on a caught stealing and the other on a double play.

Neither team did much after that until the fifth.  Mike Pagliarulo opened the inning with a single and Gagne followed with a double.  Gladden drew a walk, loading the bases with none out.  Knoblauch hit a sacrifice fly and Davis doubled, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead.  It went to 6-0 in the seventh, when Puckett got a one-out single, Davis followed with another single, and Mack delivered a pinch-hit three-run homer.  The Twins added three more in the eighth, again with one out.  Gagne walked, Gladden and pinch-hitter Al Newman singled, and Davis doubled.

Boston did manage to get on the board in the ninth.  Ellis Burks singled, Jack Clark reached on an error, and with one out ex-Twin Brunansky hit a three-run homer.

WP:  Erickson (4-2).  LP:  Greg Harris (1-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Randy Bush started in right field, with Mack pinch-hitting for him in the seventh and remaining in the game in right.  Ortiz was at catcher with Erickson on the mound.  Gene Larkin was at first base in place of Kent Hrbek.  Carmelo Castillo pinch-hit for him in the ninth and Brian Harper finished the game at first base.

Gagne raised his average to .338.  Davis was batting .325.  Knoblauch and Puckett were each batting .316.  Erickson's ERA was 1.65.

Scott Leius pinch-hit for Pagliarulo in the eighth and went 0-for-2.  He was batting .185.  Mack raised his average to .190.

There's no way that, today, Erickson would've been allowed to throw 120 pitches in a game that the Twins were winning 9-0 going to the ninth.  It really didn't make a whole lot of sense then, either.  But he had a shutout going, and that's just the way things were done at the time.  I doubt if anyone really thought about it much.

As you probably know, playing a position other than catcher was nothing new for Brian Harper.  Early in his career, he was blocked by people like Tony Pena, Lance Parrish, and Terry Steinbach, and so--in John Gordon's phrase--he played around.  He played 114 games in the outfield and a handful of games at third as well as first.  It wasn't until he got to the Twins in 1988, where the incumbent backstop was Tim Laudner, that he actually got a shot at the catching job.  When he did, he made the most of it.  In his six seasons with the Twins, he batted over .300 four times and was over .290 the other two times.  He didn't get a regular job in the majors until he was twenty-nine--had he gotten started earlier, he might have had an even better career.  As it was, he played in parts of sixteen seasons, had well over three thousand plate appearances, and put up a line of .295/.329/.419.  That's a pretty respectable career.

After that 2-9 start, the Twins finally got back to .500.  Would they stay there?  We'll find out tomorrow!

Record:  The Twins were 13-13, tied for fifth with California in the American League West, 3.5 games behind Oakland.  Only one game separated the second through sixth place teams.