MINNESOTA 2, DETROIT 1 IN DETROIT
Date: Saturday, September 7.
Batting stars: Ron Clark was 2-for-3 with a walk. Graig Nettles was 2-for-4 with two home runs, his second and third.
Pitching stars: Jim Perry pitched seven innings, giving up one run on seven hits and three walks and striking out four. Al Worthington pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.
Opposition stars: Pat Dobson pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on six hits and three walks and striking out four. Mickey Stanley was 3-for-5. Don Wert was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twelfth.
The game: The Tigers had men on second and third with none out in the first, but a line drive double play took them out of the inning. They had men on first and second with one out in the fourth, but the next two batters could not get the ball out of the infield and they were again turned aside.
Detroit got on the board in the fifth when Wert led off the inning with a home run. Again, however, they missed a chance to get more, as they loaded the bases with two out and could not add to their lead. It cost them, because in the next half-inning Nettles hit a two-out home run to tie it 1-1.
The Tigers got a man to second with two out in the seventh, and the Twins did the same in the eighth, but the score remained tied until the ninth, when Nettles led off the inning with a home run to give the Twins their first lead of the game at 2-1. The Tigers got a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, but did not advance the man past first base.
WP: Worthington (4-5). LP: Dobson (5-6). S: None.
Notes: Bruce Look was behind the plate in place of Johnny Roseboro. This was Look's only season in the majors. He batted .246 with an OBP of .353, pretty good numbers for 1968. Granted, it was 139 plate appearances, but still, you'd think he might have gotten another chance. Instead, he went to AAA Denver in 1969, batted .223, and played just two more season, both in AAA, before his career came to an end.
Rich Reese was at first base in place of Harmon Killebrew. This, or course, was the year Killebrew was injured in the all-star game. He came back in September but was mostly used as a pinch-hitter, never playing a full game the rest of the season.
Frank Quilici was at second base in place of Rod Carew, who missed a few games. Clark was at shortstop. Jackie Hernandez played the most games at short in 1968 with 79, but Clark was second with 44. Rich Rollins was at third base. Cesar Tovar played the most games at third in 1968 with 77, but Rollins was second at with 56. Tovar was in center field in place of Ted Uhlaender, who missed a couple of weeks. Nettles was in right field in place of Tony Oliva, whose season ended on August 31.
To sum up, of the eight regular listed by b-r.com, the only one to start the game at his regular position was left fielder Bob Allison.
Killebrew pinch-hit for Perry in the seventh. Rick Renick came into the game at shortstop in the ninth inning, with Clark moving to third and Rollins coming out of the game. Frank Kostro came into the game in left field and Jim Holt came into the game in right field, replacing Nettles and Allison.
Oliva led the team in batting at .289. Uhlaender batted .283 and Carew it .273. Of players used in this game, Tovar had the highest batting average at .272.
Allison led the team in home runs with 22. Oliva had 18 and Killebrew had 17.
Perry was essentially the fifth starter in a four-man rotation, getting starts because of doubleheaders or injuries. He had a tremendous season, though, going 8-6, 2.27, 1.00 WHIP. The Twins' starters numbers sound impressive: Dean Chance (16-16, 2.53, 0.98), Jim Kaat (14-12, 2.94, 1.12), Jim Merritt (12-16, 3.35, 1.09), and Dave Boswell (10-13, 3.32, 1.24. On the other hand, the league ERA was 2.98, and the league WHIP was 1.19, so those numbers are perhaps not as impressive as they sound. There's a reason they call it The Year of the Pitcher.
Record: The Twins were 68-75, in seventh place in the American League, 22 games behind Detroit. They would finish 79-83, in seventh place, 24 games behind Detroit.
The Tigers were 90-53, in first place in the American League, 8 games ahead of Baltimore. They would finish 103-59, in first place, 12 games ahead of Baltimore.
Rewind record: The Twins are 29-26 in rewind games.