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Random Rewind: 2000, Game Thirty-two

MINNESOTA 4, DETROIT 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Sunday, May 7.

Batting stars:  Cristian Guzman was 1-for-3 with a triple, two walks, and two runs.  Jacque Jones was 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs.

Pitching star:  Joe Mays pitched a complete game shutout, giving up five hits and two walks and striking out five.

Opposition stars:  Willie Blair pitched 4.1 scoreless innings of relief, giving up two hits and two walks and striking out two.  Deivi Cruz was 2-for-3.

The game:  The first was a "Twins Baseball!" kind of inning.  Guzman led off with a walk and went to third on a single by Jay Canizaro.  A one-out sacrifice fly by Ron Coomer got the Twins on the board.  A wild pitch moved Canizaro to second, Corey Koskie walked, and Butch Huskey was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.  Jones then delivered a single, only the second hit of the inning, to put the Twins up 3-0.

The Tigers threatened in the third.  Cruz singled, and with two out Brad Ausmus and Juan Encarnacion walked, loading the bases.  But Juan Gonzalez flied out to end the inning.  The Twins added a run in the fourth when Guzman led off with a triple and scored on a Matt Lawton single.

That was it for the scoring.  Detroit had a chance to at least spoil the shutout when Encarnacion led off with a triple.  But Gonzalez hit a short fly ball, Bobby Higginson fouled to the catcher, and Dean Palmer flied out to end the game.

WP:  Mays (1-4).  LP:  Mark Johnson (0-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Marcus Jensen was the catcher.  The Twins used five catchers in 2000, none of whom got much accomplished at bat until A. J. Pierzynski came up in mid-August.  Jensen (.209/.663 OPS) and Matthew LeCroy (.174/.577) each caught 49 games, with Chad Moeller (.211/.534) right behind at 48.  They also used Danny Ardoin (.125/.550) for 15 games before Pierzynski (.307/.809) catching 32 games.  After that mess for the first four and a half months, he seemed like a Godsend.

Huskey was the DH.  He had signed with the Twins to be the DH, but at this point he was close to losing the job to David Ortiz.  Huskey batted just .223 with an OPS of .660 before being traded to Colorado in mid-July.

Matt Lawton was leading the team in batting at this point at .363.  He would finish at .305, which still led the team.  Jones was batting .337.  He would finish at .285.  Koskie, who was batting .270 at this point, would finish at .300.

On the other end, Canizaro was batting .185, although he would finish at .269.  The Twins had soured on Todd Walker at this point and would trade him to Colorado in the same deal that sent Huskey there.  Walker had batted .316 in 1998 and a still-respectable .279 in 1999, but when he got off to a slow start in 2000 the Twins benched him, sent him to AAA, and then traded him.  His defense was suspect, but as I recall this was a case where the main reason for trading him was that Tom Kelly just didn't like him.  Walker went on to have a very good major league career while the player the Twins got back in the deal, Todd Sears, played just forty major league games.  And it's not like the Twins had a hotshot second baseman knocking at the door to replace him--Canizaro was the regular for 2000 and they then went to Luis Rivas.  I think a lot of TK, but he had his blind spots, and this was one of them.

The Twins batted .270, which was tied for tenth in the league.  Cleveland and Kansas City led at .288.

Jones led the team in homers with 19.  Coomer had 16, Lawton 13, and Ortiz 10.  They finished dead last in home runs with 116, thirty-four behind the next lowest team.  Toronto led the league with 240.  When the juiced ball era came around, the Twins were conscientious objectors.

This was easily Mays' best game of the season.  It was his only shutout and one of two complete games, the other being an eight-inning loss.  He did not have a good year in 2000, going 7-15, 5.56, 1.62 WHIP.  It shows how bad the Twins' pitching was that he was allowed to make 28 starts.  Brad Radke was the staff ace, I guess, but he went 12-16, 4.45, 1.38.  Eric Milton was the other mainstay of the rotation, making 33 starts and going 13-10, 4.86, 1.25.  Others to make double-digit starts were Mark Redman (12-9, 4.76, 1.41), Sean Bergman (4-5, 9.66, 2.12--he made 14 starts!), and J. C. Romero (2-7, 7.02, 1.77).

The bullpen was better than that, but it wasn't particularly good either.  The Twins posted an ERA of 5.14, tied for eleventh in the league.  Toronto led at 4.23.  The Twins were actually eighth in WHIP at 1.50.  Boston led at 1.33.  It was definitely a hitters' year.

This was the year Guzman hit twenty triples.  He led the league, of course, one of three times he did so.

The was the second game of a stretch in which the Twins won five out of six.  They did not have very many of those stretches in 2000.

Record:  The Twins were 14-18, in fourth place in the American League Central, 4.5 games behind Chicago.  They would finish 63-93, in fifth (last) place, 26 games behind Chicago.

The Tigers were 9-21, in fifth (last) place in the American League Central, 8.5 games behind Chicago.  They would finish 79-83, in third place, 16 games behind Chicago.

Random Record:  The Twins are 46-44 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1984, Game One Hundred Fourteen

SEATTLE 5, MINNESOTA 4 IN SEATTLE (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Saturday, August 11.

Batting stars:  Tom Brunansky was 3-for-4 with two home runs (his twenty-second and twenty-third), a walk, and three RBIs.  Tim Teufel was 2-for-4 with a home run, his twelfth.  Randy Bush was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Mike Smithson pitched 7.1 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and no walks and striking out six.  Ron Davis pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Salome Barojas pitched 7.2 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and four walks and striking out four.  Alvin Davis was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer (his twenty-fourth), a walk, and two runs.  Steve Henderson was 2-for-4 with a double.  Ken Phelps was 2-for-4.  Al Cowens was 2-for-5 with a double.

The game:  The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the first but could not score.  The Mariners put men on first and third with two out in the first but could not score.  In the third, however, Seattle did score--Jack Perconte hit a one-out double and Davis hit a two-out two-run homer to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead.

The Twins got one back in the fourth on Brunansky's homer.  It stayed 2-1 until the eighth.  With two out Bush walked and Brunansky struck again, hitting a two-run homer to give the Twins their first lead at 3-2.

The lead lasted until the bottom of the eighth.  With one out Spike Owen reached on an error.  Davis and Phelps followed with singles, tying the score, and Henderson hit a two-out double that put Seattle back in front 4-3.  The Twins came right back in the ninth, as Teufel hit a leadoff homer to tie it 4-4.

The Twins went down in order in the top of the tenth.  In the bottom half, Owen led off with a single and Davis walked.  Barry Bonnell fouled out, but Cowens delivered an RBI single that gave the Mariners the victory.

WP:  Edwin Nunez (2-1).  LP:  Pete Filson (6-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Tim Laudner was the catcher.  He shared the job with Dave Engle in 1984, with Engle catching slightly more games (86 to 81).  Neither was anything great at the plate--Engle hit for a better average, Laudner had more power, but both posted an OPS below .670.  Neither had a reputation as a great defensive catcher, either.

Darrell Brown was in left in place of Mickey Hatcher, who was out for a few days.

Andre David pinch-hit for Houston Jimenez in the seventh.  Ron Washington came in to play shortstop.

Kent Hrbek was leading the team in batting average at .326.  He would finish at .311.  Kirby Puckett was batting .301.  He would finish at .296.  Hatcher would also finish over .300, at .302.

The Twins had three solid starters in 1984:  Frank Viola (18-12, 3.21), Smithson (15-13, 3.68), and John Butcher (13-11, 3.44).  They couldn't find a fourth or a fifth, though.  Making double-digit starts were Ken Schrom (5-11, 4.47), Ed Hodge (4-3, 4.77), and Al Williams (3-5, 5.77).

If you're like me, when 1984 came up and you saw the Twins had lost in extra innings, you may have suspected that Davis had blown the game.  Well, yes and no.  He came in in the eighth inning with men on first and second, one out, and a tie game.  He retired one man and then gave up the RBI double to Henderson that put Seattle in front 4-3.  The Twins tied it in the ninth and he retired the side in the bottom of the ninth with no trouble.  Filson came in to start the tenth and Mike Walters eventually gave up the deciding hit.

Even though the Twins were in contention most of the way, they were a pretty flawed team.  They had some very good players, but also some very obvious holes.  We discussed catcher and fourth and fifth starter.  Another hole was shortstop.  Jimenez played the most there, but batted .201/.238/.245 in 317 plate appearances.  Washington was a superior batter, batting .294/.307/.447 in 206 plate appearances, but he was not good enough to field the position.  Others tried were Lenny Faedo and Chris Speier (at the end of his career).  Had the Twins been able to find even an average shortstop, they probably would have won the division.

Record:  The Twins were 59-55, in first place in the American League West, 1.5 games ahead of California.  They would finish 81-81, tied for second with California, three games behind Kansas City.

The Mariners were 53-65, in sixth place in the American League West, 8 games behind Minnesota.  They would finish 74-88, tied for fifth with Chicago, 10 games behind Kansas City.

Rewind Record:  The Twins are 35-29 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1972, Game Eleven

MINNESOTA 5, NEW YORK 4 IN NEW YORK (GAME 2 OF DOUBLEHEADER)

Date:  Sunday, April 30.

Batting stars:  George Mitterwald was 3-for-5 with two doubles.  Bobby Darwin was 2-for-3 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.  Danny Thompson was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.  Rod Carew was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Dick Woodson pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks and striking out five.  Dave LaRoche struck out two in two innings, giving up an unearned run on two hits.

Opposition stars:  Mike Kekich pitched 5.2 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on ten hits and two walks and striking out four.  John Ellis was 2-for-4 with a home run.  Roy White was 1-for-4 with a home run.

The game:  The Twins loaded the bases in the first inning but did not score.  In the second, Ellis hit a one-out homer to get the Yankees on the board.  Later in the inning Jerry Kenney walked and Kekich hit a two-out triple to make the score 2-0 New York.

The Twins tied it in the fourth.  Darwin and Steve Brye led off the inning with singles.  With one out Mitterwald hit a ground-rule double to put the Twins on the board.  With two out, Cesar Tovar was hit by a pitch, loading the bases, and Thompson walked to force in a run.  With the bases still loaded the Twins had a chance to take the lead, but Carew struck out to end the inning.

The Twins took the lead in the sixth, however, when Tovar singled and scored on a double-plus-error by Thompson.  The lead lasted until the bottom of the sixth, when White homered to tie it 3-3.

In the eighth, Mitterwald singled, Danny Monzon reached on an error, and Tovar was hit by a pitch to load the bases with none out.  Thompson struck out, but Carew delivered a two-run single to give the Twins a 5-3 lead.  The Twins had a chance for a bigger lead, loading the bases with two out, but a ground out ended the inning.

The lead held up, but it wasn't easy.  With one out in the ninth Felipe Alou doubled and scored on Ellis' single-plus-error, cutting the margin to 5-4.  The tying run was on second, but Thurman Munson fouled out and Ron Swoboda was caught looking to end the game.

WP:  Woodson (2-0).  LP:  Fred Beene (0-1).  S:  LaRoche (4).

Notes:  Mitterwald shared time behind the plate with Phil Roof and Glenn Borgmann, with Rick Dempsey playing a handful of games.  Borgmann did not come up until mid-season (it was his rookie year), and he took over the starting job at that point.

Rich Reese pinch-ran for Harmon Killebrew in the eighth and remained in the game at first base.

Darwin was batting .439 in the young season.  He would finish at .267.  Mitterwald was batting .375.  He would finish at .234.  Thompson was batting .311.  He would finish at .276.  Carew, who was batting just .227, would end up leading the team in batting at .318.  The Twins finished fourth in the league in batting average at just .244.

Killebrew would lead the team in home runs with 26.  Darwin would hit 22 and Eric Soderholm, who would become the starting third baseman, had 13.

1968 was The Year of the Pitcher, but 1972 was a pretty good year for pitchers, too.  Here are the Twins' starters:  Bert Blyleven:  17-17, 2.73; Woodson, 14-14, 2.72; Jim Perry, 13-16, 3.35; Ray Corbin, 8-9, 2.62; Jim Kaat, 10-2, 2.06; Dave Goltz, 3-3, 2.67.  The designated hitter would come in the next year to try to generate more offense in the American League.

LaRoche was pretty much the co-closer with Wayne Granger.  Granger had 19 saves and LaRoche 10.

Despite Kekich's RBI triple, he was not a good batter.  He was not even a good batter for a pitcher.  His career numbers are .120/.140/.134.  This was the only triple of his major league career.  He also had just one double, in 1969, and no home runs.

The Twins lost the first game of the doubleheader, snapping a six-game winning streak.  The win in the second game would start a five-game winning streak.  The Twins were 23-12 at the end of May, but would not have another month in which they were over .500.

This was a strike/lockout year, so the season did not begin until April 15.  That's why, on April 26, the Twins were only playing their eleventh game.

Record:  The Twins were 8-3, in first place in the American League West, one game ahead of Oakland.  They would finish 77-77, in third place, 15.5 games behind Oakland.

The Yankees were 4-8, in fifth place in the American League East, 3.5 games behind Detroit.  They would finish 79-76, in fourth place, 6.5 games behind Detroit.

Random record:  The Twins are 32-27 in Random Rewind games.