DETROIT 6, MINNESOTA 3 IN DETROIT
Date: Tuesday, July 23.
Batting stars: Kirby Puckett was 2-for-3. Chili Davis was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
Pitching star: Carl Willis pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Frank Tanana pitched six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and no walks and striking out two. Lou Whitaker was 2-for-3 with two runs. Cecil Fielder was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth) and five RBIs. Tony Phillips was 2-for-4 with a double.
The game: Scott Leius and Chuck Knoblauch opened the game with singles. Puckett bunted them up and a ground out scored a run, putting the Twins up 1-0. That lead didn't last long. In the bottom of the first, Whitaker singled and Fielder hit a two-run homer, putting the Tigers ahead 2-1.
The Twins tied it in the fourth, but could've had more. Puckett singled and Davis doubled, putting men on second and third with none out. Brian Harper hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-2, but a strikeout and a fly out ended the inning. Once again, the Tigers went right back in front. In the bottom of the fourth, Rob Deer walked and scored from first on a Travis Fryman double to give Detroit a 3-2 advantage.
The Tigers took control in the fifth. Phillips and Whitaker singled and Fielder hit a three-run homer, making the score 6-2. The Twins got one back in the eighth. Chuck Knoblauch walked, Puckett singled, and Davis had an RBI single. The tying run was at bat with one out, but Harper and Shane Mack each grounded out to end the threat.
WP: Tanana (7-6). LP: Allan Anderson (4-8). SL Mike Henneman (14).
Notes: Mack remained in left field in place of Dan Gladden. Gene Larkin was in right. Leius batted first.
In the seventh, Randy Bush pinch-hit for Greg Gagne, but due to a pitching change Al Newman pinch-hit for Bush. He stayed in the game at shortstop. Mike Pagliarulo pinch-hit for Leius in the ninth.
Puckett raised his average to .331. Harper was 0-for-3 and fell to .321. Willis lowered his ERA to 2.44. Rick Aguilera pitched a third of an inning to drop his ERA to 2.93.
Jack Morris started, but pitched just 1.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and no walks and striking out one. His ERA was 3.47. I assume he came out due to injury. The play-by-play on the play before he came out says "Single (line drive to P's right). I don't know if it went off him or if perhaps he tweaked something trying to field it. At any rate, he did not miss a start. Anderson came in and pitched the next 3.1 innings, doing well until the three-run homer in the fifth.
It seems strange that, after starting the game with two singles, Puckett would then bunt. My guess is that he did that on his own, but it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me. They had a chance for a big inning, and he was at least arguably their best batter. Bunting, even if he was bunting for a hit, does not seem like a good strategy at that point.
Willis came in to start the sixth. He had gotten into some trouble int he seventh, but a double play ended the inning. He then retired the first two batters in the eighth, and was removed for no obvious reason in favor of Aguilera. Aguilera hadn't pitched since July 19, so I could understand the idea that he might need some work. But then, why not give him an inning, rather than bringing him in with two out and none on in the last inning? He threw six pitches, and could very well have just thrown one. That's getting him some work? It really seems strange.
The Twins did pretty well against Frank Tanana for his career. His record against them was 19-20, 4.49, 1.37 WHIP. For his career he was 240-236, 3.66, 1.27 WHIP. In 1991, however, Tanana did well against the Twins in two starts: 1-1, 3.86, 1.07 WHIP. His season in 1991 was 13-12, 3.77, 1.36 WHIP.
Texas and Chicago each won, so they remained tied for second and each gained a game on the Twins.
Record: The Twins were 55-39, in first place in the American League West, four games ahead of Chicago and Texas.