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.