Tag Archives: bunts

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twelve

MINNESOTA 5, SEATTLE 2 IN SEATTLE

Date:  Sunday, August 11.

Batting stars:  Kent Hrbek was 3-for-4 with a home run (his twelfth), two runs, and three RBIs.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4.  Shane Mack was 1-for-3 with a home run (his fourteenth) and a walk.

Pitching star:  Kevin Tapani pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk and striking out three.  He threw just 91 pitches.

Opposition stars:  Jay Buhner was 1-for-3 with a home run, his twenty-first.

The game:  Mack homered with two out in the first inning to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  In the second Hrbek led off with a single, went to second on a wild pitch, was bunted to third, and scored on a ground out to make it 2-0.  In the fourth, Gene Larkin doubled and scored on Hrbek's single to make it 3-0.

The Mariners got on the board in the bottom of the fourth.  Edgar Martinez led off with a single and went to second when Harold Reynolds walked.  A ground out moved the runners up and a sacrifice fly cut the Twins' lead to 3-1.  It went to 3-2 when Buhner homered leading off the fifth, but the Twins got the run back with interest in the sixth when a walk to Larkin was followed by Hrbek's two-run homer.

The score was 5-2, and there it stayed.  Seattle got just one baserunner after that, a two-out single by Omar Vizquel in the eighth.

WP:  Tapani (10-7).  LP:  Bill Krueger (9-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Larkin was the designated hitter, replacing Chili Davis.  That caused Mack to go into the third spot in the batting order, with Puckett moving down to fourth.  Greg Gagne returned to the lineup at shortstop.

Puckett was batting .329.  Brian Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .311.  Tapani lowered his ERA to 2.98.

With Hrbek on second and none out in the second inning, Scott Leius bunted, moving Hrbek to third.  He scored on a ground out, making the score 2-0.  I wonder if Leius bunted on his own, trying to get a hit.  It seems strange to just want to move Hrbek to third with one out, especially with Gagne as the next batter.

I doubt that, at the start of the season, very many people would've expected Mack to have more home runs than Hrbek.  It's remarkable, as I go through these games, how few times Hrbek has been one of the offensive stars.  He was still a solid player, and a steady contributor.  He batted .284/.373/.461 with 20 homers, and you'll certainly take that.  I'm surprised that he didn't have much of a platoon split.  Memory had told me that he really struggled with lefties, but he didn't in 1991--he batted .281/.352/.445 against them.  He was even better against righties, of course--.284/.380/.467.  Tom Kelly often dropped Hrbek to seventh in the lineup against left-handers, which is probably why I assumed there was a big platoon split.  But there really wasn't.

Tapani had now won five straight games.  He wasn't pitching all that much better than he had earlier--his ERA only fell from 3.16 to 2.98.  The Twins just started scoring some runs for him.

The White Sox kept pace with the Twins, defeating Baltimore 7-0.

Record:  The Twins were 67-45, in first place in the American League West, one game ahead of Chicago.

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-one

BOSTON 2, MINNESOTA 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Monday, June 17.

Batting star:  C. J. Cron was 2-for-4.

Pitching star:  Jose Berrios struck out ten in eight innings, giving up one run on five hits and no walks.

Opposition stars:  Rick Porcello struck out eight in seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and a walk.  J. D. Martinez was 2-for-4 with a double.  Xander Bogaerts was 2-for-4 with a double.

The game:  The Red Sox jumped on Berrios right away, opening the game with consecutive singles by Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Martinez.  That produced one run and would've produced more had not Marwin Gonzalez thrown out Benintendi trying to stretch his hit into a double.

And that was the only scoring for some time.  Nelson Cruz hit a  two-out double in the first but nothing came of it.  After that neither team even got a baserunner until the fifth.  There was no threat to score until the seventh, when Cron hit a one-out double, and again nothing came of it.

The Twins' best scoring chance came in the eighth.  Jonathan Schoop led off with a single and Max Kepler walked.  Jorge Polanco bunted the runners to second and third with one out, but Cruz hit back to the pitcher and Schoop was thrown out at the plate on a contact play.  Eddie Rosario grounded out to end the inning.

Boston got an insurance run in the ninth on doubles by Martinez and Bogaerts.  The Twins went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.

WP:  Porcello (5-6).  LP:  Berrios (8-3).  S:  Ryan Brasier (7).

Notes:  Gonzalez remained in right, with Kepler in center and Byron Buxton remaining on the bench with a bruised wrist.  I've said this before, but I'm quite pleased that the Twins are allowing Buxton's wrist to heal properly, rather than rushing him back into the lineup.  Maybe that's Rocco's influence, because it sure seems different from recent years.

Polanco was 1-for-3 and is batting .332.  Berrios has an ERA of 2.86.

This was another frustrating loss, although in a different way.  It was frustrating to get such excellent pitching out of Berrios and not be able to take advantage of it.  It should be mentioned that after the Martinez RBI single in the first, Berrios retired the next nineteen batters.  He struck out ten and did not walk anyone.  That's really, really good.  There's no shame in getting shut down by Porcello, who's a good pitcher, too, but you hate to lose a game when your own starting pitcher did so well.

I really didn't have a problem with Polanco's bunt in the eighth inning.  I realize that's going to be a minority opinion here, and that's fine.  No one has to agree with me, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to argue about it this morning.  But he moved the go-ahead run into scoring position with two really good batters coming up.  I don't have a problem with doing that.  It just didn't work.

I do have a problem with the contact play, and always have.  I've never seen a study on it, but it just seems like there are a lot of times it doesn't work, and when it doesn't it pretty much takes you out of the inning.  Earl Weaver once said of the hit-and-run "it has it's place, but most of the time that place is in the back of a deep, dark closet".  That's where I'd put the contact play, too.

But the good news is that we still have the best record in baseball, we still have a ten game lead on the Clevelands, and today is a new day.  Michael Pineda pitched quite well last time and hasn't had a really bad game in quite some time.  The Twins haven't lost three in a row all year.  They probably will at some point, but let's not let it be tonight.

Record:  The Twins are 47-24, first in the American League Central, ten games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 138-24!