Tag Archives: bunts

1970 Rewind: Game Thirteen


Date: Saturday, April 25.

Batting stars: Tony Oliva was 2-for-4 with a home run (his third) and two runs. Rich Reese was 1-for-3 with a home run.

Pitching star: Jim Kaat pitched 8.1 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and two walks and striking out five.

Opposition stars: Mickey Stanley was 2-for-3 with a home run. Elliott Maddox was 2-for-3. Willie Horton was 2-for-4. Earl Wilson pitched six innings, giving up two runs on three hits and no walks and striking out two.

The game: Maddox led off the third with a single and was bunted to second. Wilson then doubled, but Maddox was only able to make third--presumably it was a fly ball that he thought might be caught. Stanley walked to load the bases, but Dick McAuliffe hit into a double play to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.

The Twins took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on solo homers by Oliva and Reese. Stanley hit a solo homer in the sixth to cut the lead to 2-1. It stayed 2-1 until the eighth, when Paul Ratliff doubled, went to third on a Frank Quilici single, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kaat. But in the ninth, Horton singled and Jim Northrup hit a one-out triple to cut the lead to 3-2. Kaat left in favor of Stan Williams, who allowed a sacrifice fly by Norm Cash to tie it at three.

In the bottom of the ninth, Oliva hit a one-out single and went to second on an error. Harmon Killebrew then delivered a single to right to score Oliva and give the victory to the Twins.

WP: Williams (2-0).

LP: Tom Timmerman (0-1).

S: None.

Notes: Quilici was at second base in place of Rod Carew. Ratliff was behind the plate in place of George Mitterwald. Jim Holt replaced Brant Alyea for defense in the eighth.

Carew would not play again until May 6. I don't know if he was injured or if he was fulfilling a National Guard commitment.

Alyea was 1-for-3 and was batting .421.  Cesar Tovar was 0-for-4 and was batting .357.  Oliva was batting .339.  KillebrewRatliff, and Quilici were all batting .333.  Kaat had an ERA of 2.86.  Williams continued to have an ERA of zero.

Leo Cardenas was moved up to the second spot in the order with Carew out, but went 0-for-4 and was batting .191.

The Tigers' third was interesting.  Maddox, batting in the seventh spot, led off with a single.  Eighth-place batter Cedar Guttierez then bunted, with pitcher Earl Wilson coming up next.  It worked, as Wilson delivered a double, but how often do you have the eighth-place hitter bunt with the pitcher coming up next?  But Wilson was a pretty good batter.  His career batting line is .195/.265/.369 with 35 home runs in 740 at-bats.  A .195 average may not sound like much, but he played almost his entire career in the 1960s.  There are middle infielders who had substantial careers in the 1960s with lower batting averages than that.

The Twins had won four, lost two, won four, lost two, and now have won one.  We'll see if they can win four again.

Record:  The Twins were 9-4, in first place in the American League West by winning percentage, but a half game behind California.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twelve


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


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!