MINNESOTA 1, CHICAGO 0 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Friday, June 23.
Batting stars: Bob Allison was 2-for-3. Jerry Zimmerman was 2-for-3. Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-3 with a home run, his twenty-second.
Pitching star: Dean Chance pitched a complete game shutout, giving up three hits and one walk and striking out four.
Opposition star: Joel Horlen pitched seven innings, giving up one run on six hits no walks and striking out two. He was also 1-for-2 at the plate.
The game: It was a pitchers' duel. No one got past first base until the third, when Horlen singled with two out and went to second when Tommie Agee reached on an error. Don Buford struck out to end the inning. No one got past first after that until the sixth, when Agee hit a one-out double. He was stranded on second.
With one out in the seventh Killebrew hit a home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. And that was pretty much it. Chance retired the last eight men he faced and the Twins won 1-0.
WP: Chance (10-5). LP: Horlen (8-1). S: None.
Notes: Cesar Tovar was at third base in place of Rich Rollins. Rollins played 97 games at third compared to Tovar's 72, so this was not an unusual arrangement. Tovar also played 64 games in center and 35 at second base, as well as a handful of games at short and each of the corner outfield positions. He's mostly forgotten now, other than by old Twins fans, but you can make the argument that Tovar is among the greatest multi-position players ever.
Sandy Valdespino came in for defense in the ninth, replacing Allison in left field.
Carew was batting .319. He would finish at .292, which still led the team. On the other end, Zimmerman was batting .157. He would finish at .167 with an OPS of .436. He was the regular catcher this year due to injuries to Earl Battey. He was reputed to be a superior defensive catcher, and I certainly hope he was, because he contributed nothing on offense. The Twins batted .240, which was tied for third in the league. Boston led at .255, well above second-place Detroit, which batted .243.
Killebrew naturally led the team with 44 home runs. Allison hit 24 and Tony Oliva 17. The Twins hit 131 home runs, tied for fourth in the league. Boston led there, too, with 158.
We went through the 1967 pitching staff a couple of weeks ago, so we won't repeat that. The Twins had 58 complete games in 1967. Chance led with 18. Jim Kaat had 13, and Jim Merritt and Dave Boswell each had 11. Jim Perry, who made 11 starts and relieved 26 times, had three complete games. Mudcat Grant, who battled injuries all season, still had two complete games. Al Worthington was the relief ace, going 8-9, 2.84 with 16 saves. Ron Kline went 7-1, 3.77 with 5 saves and Jim Roland posted a 3.03 ERA with 2 saves. The Twins were second in ERA at 3.14, although that was well behind league-leading Chicago at 2.45. The Twins were third in WHIP at 1.19. Chicago led there, too, at 1.12.
In the sixth, with the game still scoreless, Zimmerman led off with a single and then was caught stealing second. Zimmerman had one career stolen base, in his rookie year of 1961. He had two stolen base attempts that season. He had only one more stolen base attempt in his career, this one. My guess is that the batter, Chance, was supposed to bunt and missed. I have no real evidence for that, but I can't think of any other reason you'd have Zimmerman try to steal. You'd have the element of surprise on your side, I guess, but that's about it.
I wonder if, in 1968, manager Cal Ermer made a statement to the effect that who they really missed was Jerry Zimmerman.
This was Horlen's best year. He went 19-7 and led the league in ERA at 2.06. He also led in shutouts with 6 and WHIP at 0.95. It was the second time he'd led the league in WHIP (1964, 0.94). He made the all-star team for the only time in his career. He was second to Jim Lonborg in Cy Young voting. You can make the argument that he should have won the award, but Lonborg won 22 games and played for the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox. He finished fourth in MVP voting, ahead of Lonborg but behind Carl Yastrzemski, Killebrew, and Bill Freehan.
Record: The Twins were 33-32, in fourth place in the American League, six games behind Chicago. They would finish 91-71, tied for second with Detroit, one game behind Boston.
The White Sox were 38-25, in first place in the American League, three games ahead of Detroit. They would finish 89-73, in fourth place, three games behind Boston.
People who read carefully may have noticed that this is the Twins 66th game, but their record was 33-32, which only adds up to 65. Why, you ask? Two days earlier they had played a tie game with Detroit, 5-5. They would play another tie game on July 25 with New York, 1-1, so they actually played 164 games in 1967. Tovar played in all 164 games despite not having a regular position. The record is 165, by Maury Wills in 1962. That total includes a best-of-three playoff.
Random record: The Twins are 50-48 in Random Rewind games.