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Random Rewind: 1986, Game One Hundred Thirty-three


Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 4-for-5 with a two-run homer (his twenty-seventh), a double, a stolen base (his sixteenth), and two runs.  Gary Gaetti was 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs.  Tom Brunansky was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his twenty-first) and a walk.  Steve Lombardozzi was 2-for-4 with two runs.  Al Woods was 1-for-1 with a three-run homer.

Pitching stars:  Mike Smithson pitched seven innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and no walks and striking out six.  Roy Lee Jackson retired all four batters he faced.

Opposition stars:  Robin Yount was 3-for-5 with a home run, his fifth.  Jim Gantner was 2-for-4.  Ernie Riles was 2-for-4 with a double.  Bill Schroeder was 1-for-1 with a two-run homer, his fourth.  Mike Birkbeck pitched three shutout innings of relief, giving up two hits and two walks and striking out two.

The game:  Yount led off the game with a home run, but the Twins took over after that.  In the bottom of the first, Puckett singled, stole second, and scored on Gaetti's single to tie it at one.  Brunansky then hit a single-plus-error that scored Gaetti from first and put the Twins up 2-1.

The Twins took a commanding lead in the second.  Mickey Hatcher drew a one-out walk and went to third on Lombardozzi's single.  A wild pitch scored a run and Puckett hit a two-run homer to make it 5-1. Gaetti then doubled and Brunansky hit a two-run homer, giving the Twins a 7-1 lead.

The Twins kept adding on.  In the fourth, Lombardozzi singled and scored from first on Gaetti's two-out double.  In the fifth, Kent Hrbek and Mark Salas led off with singles and Woods hit a three-run homer to put the Twins ahead 11-1.

The Brewers got the rest of their runs in the eighth.  A tiring Smithson gave up singles to Gantner and Yount and a two-run double to Charlie Moore.  Allan Anderson came in and gave up a two-run homer to Schroeder before retiring the side.  Milwaukee went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Smithson (12-10).  LP:  Teddy Higuera (17-9).  S:  None.

Notes:  Tim Laudner started at catcher in this game, with Salas pinch-hitting in the fifth.  Laudner, Salas, and Jeff Reed divided the catching duties almost evenly:  Salas caught in 69, Laudner in 68, and Reed in 64.

Billy Beane was in left in place of Randy Bush.  Beane actually played quite a bit of left field in 1986--64 games, with Bush playing 90 and Hatcher 45.  Hatcher was the DH in this game, playing in place of Roy Smalley.

With the blowout game, the Twins made quite a few substitutions.  i already mentioned Salas replacing Laudner.  Woods pinch-hit for Beane in the fifth, with Mark Davidson then taking over in left.  Smalley pinch-hit for Hatcher in the fifth and stayed in the game at DH.  Alvaro Espinoza came in at short to replace Greg Gagne in the seventh.

I must confess that I had no memory that the Twins once had a player named "Al Woods" and in checking it appears that I completely missed him in the birthday list.  His birthday is August 8, so I'll try to include him next month.  In checking on him, I do remember him playing for Toronto as "Alvis Woods".  He was an outfielder for them from 1977-1982 and had a few pretty good years.  He had a poor year in 1982, though, and then spent three and a half years in AAA before resurfacing with the Twins for about a month and a half in 1986.  He did well for them, batting .321/.375/.571 in 28 at-bats, nearly all of them as a pinch-hitter.  It was pretty much his swan song, though--he played in Mexico in 1987 and then was done.

Puckett was batting .349 at this point.  He would finish at .328.  He was the team's only .300 hitter (other than Woods).  The Twins batted .261, which was seventh in the league.  Cleveland led at .284, well ahead of second-place Boston at .271.

Gaetti led the team in homers with 34.  Puckett had 31 homers and Hrbek 29.  Also in double figures were Brunansky (23), Smalley (20), Gagne (12), and Laudner (10).  The Twins hit 196 home runs, second in the league to Detroit (198).

Frank Viola led the team in starts and went 16-13, but with a 4.51 ERA.  Bert Blyleven was 17-14, 4.01 and Smithson was 13-14, 4.77.  Neal Heaton actually had the lowest ERA among the starters, going 4-9, 3.98, but he made just 17 starts, as he was traded to the Twins from Cleveland in June.  Also making double-digit starts were Mark Portugal (6-10, 4.31), Anderson (3-6, 5.51), and John Butcher, who was traded for Heaton (0-3, 6.30).

Six different pitchers had saves.  Keith Atherton led the team with 10, going 5-8, 3.75.  George Frazier had six saves with a 4.39 ERA.  Frank Pastore (4.01) and Ron Davis (9.08) each had two saves, with Roy Lee Jackson (3.86) and Juan Agosto (8.85) each getting one.

The Twins were dead last in ERA at 4.77.  Leading the league was Kansas City at 3.82.  The Twins were twelfth in WHIP at 1.45.  California lead at 1.26.

I remembered Yount as more of a power hitter than he actually was.  He only had four seasons of over 20 homers, with a high of 29 in 1982.  He had nine seasons in which he did not even reach ten.  Maybe I remember him as more of a power threat because of all the doubles and triples--he hit 583 doubles, twice leading the league, and 126 triples, also twice leading the league.  He did hit 251 homers in his career, and I don't mean this as a criticism of him.  He was a great player.  He just wasn't a big home run guy.

Teddy Higuera was a fine pitcher, and 1986 was one of his best years, but you sure couldn't tell it by this game.  He allowed seven runs on seven hits and a walk in just 1.2 innings.  For the season he was 20-11, 2.79 and finished second in Cy Young voting to Roger Clemens.  From 1985-1990 he was 89-54, 3.34.  He then had injury troubles and was never the same pitcher.  He's largely forgotten now, but for several years he was a pitcher you'd have been very happy to have on your team.

This was one of the last games Ray Miller managed for the Twins.  He would be replaced by Tom Kelly a little over a week later.

This was the last of a three-game winning streak.  The Twins would drop their next five.

Record:  The Twins were 58-75, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, 18 games behind California.  They would finish 71-91, in sixth place, 21 games behind California.

The Brewers were 64-68, in seventh (last) place in the American League East, 14.5 games behind Boston.  They would finish 77-84, in sixth place, 18 games behind Boston.

Random Record:  The Twins are 52-49 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 2000, Game Thirty-two


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


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


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.