MINNESOTA 5, CLEVELAND 3 IN CLEVELAND
Date: Monday, August 26.
Batting stars: Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his fourteenth) and two runs. Brian Harper was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his seventh. Dan Gladden was 2-for-4 with a double. Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-4. Shane Mack was 1-for-4 with a home run, his sixteenth.
Pitching star: Kevin Tapani pitched eight innings, giving up two runs on six hits and a walk and striking out three.
Opposition star: Carlos Martinez was 3-for-3.
The game: The Indians got a man to third in the third, but the scoring did not start until the fourth, when Mack hit a home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. In the sixth, Puckett singled and Harper hit a two-run homer to make it 3-0.
Cleveland had just two singles in the first five innings, but they got on the board in the sixth. Felix Fermin led off with a single, Jerry Browne had a one-out single, a ground out put men on second and third, and Albert Belle had a two-run single to cut the margin to 3-2. They got the tying run to second with two out in the seventh, but did not score. The Twins got the two runs back in the eighth when Knoblauch singled and Puckett hit a two-run homer, making the score 5-2.
The Indians threatened in the ninth. Mike Aldrete walked, went to second on a ground out, and scored on a Luis Lopez single to reduce the Twins lead to 5-3. The tying run was up to bat with one out, but Chris James and Glenallen Hill each struck out to end the game.
WP: Tapani (12-7). LP: Dave Otto (1-4). S: Rick Aguilera (34).
Notes: Gene Larkin was at first base in place of Kent Hrbek. For a change, the Twins did not use their bench at all, making no substitutions in the lineup.
Puckett raised his average to .329. Harper raised his average to .313. Mack was batting .304. Tapani lowered his ERA to 2.94. Aguilera gave up a run in one inning to make his ERA 2.45.
Otto started for Cleveland. He pitched eight innings, but allowed five runs on ten hits and no walks. He struck out five and threw just 97 pitches. I guess one would say this was the best year of his career--he went 2-8, 4.23, 1.35 WHIP. He did have a lower ERA (3.80) in relief in 1994, the last year of his career, but he had a FIP of 4.98 and a WHIP of 1.58. For his career he was 10-22, 5.06, 1.57 WHIP in 318.1 innings (109 games, 41 starts) spread over eight seasons. He's another one of those guys who got chance after chance even though he never really did anything to justify it.
Hrbek may have had a minor injury or illness. He did not play in this game and was used as a pinch-hitter in the next one. He would be back in the lineup after that.
The White Sox lost Kansas City 7-0 and Oakland lost to Boston 3-0, so the Twins were building a commanding lead in the division.
Record: The Twins were 76-51, in first place in the American League West, eight games ahead of Chicago and Oakland.