MINNESOTA 9, DETROIT 7 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Tuesday, July 30.
Batting stars: Shane Mack was 4-for-5 with two doubles. Scott Leius was 3-for-4 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs. Gene Larkin was 2-for-3 with two walks. Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs. Kirby Puckett was 2-for-6 with a triple, a double, and two RBIs.
Pitching star: Carl Willis pitched 4.1 scoreless innings of relief, giving up three hits and no walks and striking out two.
Opposition stars: Lloyd Moseby was 3-for-5 with two doubles and three runs. Mickey Tettleton was 2-for-4 with a walk. Tony Phillips was 2-for-5.
The game: It was wild early. With one out in the top of the first, Scott Livingstone singled, Moseby doubled, and Cecil Fielder hit a two-run double to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. The Twins came back with three in the bottom of the first. Dan Gladden walked, Knoblauch singled, Puckett hit a two-run triple, and a wild pitch gave the Twins a 3-2 lead. It went to 4-2 in the second when Greg Gagne doubled, went to third on Gladden's single, and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Detroit went back in front in the third. Moseby and Tettleton singled, Travis Fryman had an RBI double, and Rob Deer hit a two-run single to give the Tigers a 5-4 advantage. The Twins got the lead back in the bottom of the third. Larkin singled and scored from first on Leius' double. An RBI single from Knoblauch put the Twins up 6-5. They added two more in the fourth. Mack singled and went to second on a wild pitch. With two out, Leius singled and Junior Ortiz tripled to make it 8-5 Twins. There was no more scoring until the seventh, when Chili Davis walked and scored from first on a Mack double, putting the Twins up 9-5.
The Tigers tried to mount a comeback in the ninth. Tony Phillips led off with a single. With one out Moseby had an RBI double to make it 9-6. A wild pitch moved him to third and he scored on a ground out to cut the lead to 9-7. But the tying run did not come to bat, as Tettleton grounded out to end the game.
WP: Willis (6-2). LP: John Cerutti (1-3). S: None.
Notes: Larkin was at first base in place of Kent Hrbek. Junior Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper. Al Newman pinch-hit for Leius in the eighth and stayed in the game at third base.
Puckett was batting .332. Leius raised his average to .303. Willis lowered his ERA to 2.16.
There were no Great Scotts in this game, as neither starter lasted long. Scott Erickson pitched three innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out one. His ERA went to 2.34. Detroit starter Scott Aldred went only one-third on an inning, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks and striking out one.
Willis was really an unsung hero for the 1991 Twins. When we think of that team, we think of Morris and Tapani and Erickson. We think of Puckett and Hrbek and Chili Davis. But Willis had fifteen games in which he pitched three innings or more out of the bullpen. In those fifteen games, he allowed one or zero runs in twelve of them, two runs in two, and three runs in one. In other words, in those fifteen games in which pitched three or more innings, he had an ERA of 1.95. Saving the bullpen, keeping the Twins in games, allowing them to win some games they would not otherwise have won. I'm not saying he was the team MVP, but he was certainly an important contributor.
The White Sox defeated Toronto 8-7, so the Twins did not gain any ground.
Record: The Twins were 60-41, in first place in the American League West, three games ahead of Chicago.