MINNESOTA 8, TEXAS 4 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Saturday, September 21.
Batting stars: Brian Harper was 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk, two runs, and two RBIs. Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Dan Gladden was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, his fourteenth. Kent Hrbek was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his eighteenth.
Pitching star: Kevin Tapani pitched a complete game, allowing four runs on eight hits and no walks and striking out six. He threw 105 pitches.
Opposition stars: Rafael Palmeiro was 2-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-fifth), a double, and two runs. Julio Franco was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his thirtieth. Jack Daugherty was 1-for-4 with a home run.
The game: With two out in the first inning, Puckett singled and Hrbek followed with a two-run homer. It stayed 2-0 until the fourth, when Franco singled and Palmeiro doubled, putting men on second and third with none out. Ruben Sierra singled in a run and another run scored on a double play, tying the score 2-2.
The Twins took the lead right back in the bottom of the fourth. Chili Davis had a one-out single and stole second (!). Harper doubled him home and later scored on a Mike Pagliarulo single to put the Twins up 4-2. The Twins added two more in the fifth. With one out, Chuck Knoblauch walked, Puckett singled, and Hrbek walked, loading the bases. A force out scored one run and a Harper double brought home another, increasing the Twins' lead to 6-2.
The Rangers never really got back into the game. Palmeiro homered in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-3, but in the seventh Scott Leius delivered a two-out two-run double to put it up to 8-3. Daugherty homered in the eighth to make it 8-4, but that was as close as Texas would come.
WP: Tapani (16-8). LP: Jose Guzman (12-6). S: None.
Notes: Leius pinch-hit for Pagliarulo in the seventh and stayed in the game at third base. Jarvis Brown pinch-ran for Puckett in the eighth and stayed in the game in center field.
Puckett raised his average to .323. Harper went up to .313. Shane Mack was 1-for-4 and was batting .309. Tapani's ERA went up to 2.87.
Guzman started for the Rangers and pitched 6.2 innings. He allowed eight runs on ten hits and four walks. He struck out three and threw 125 pitches. I don't know if the Texas bullpen was overtaxed, so they needed him to fill up innings, but that seems like a lot of pitching when you're not pitching that well.
By this time in his career, Gladden was not that much of a base stealer any more. He would end the year with fifteen, the lowest total of his career to that point. He would play two more seasons, but would steal only twelve more bases. In his best years he was a decent, but not great, percentage base stealer. For his career he was 222-315, which is 70.4%.
I remembered Julio Franco as a good ballplayer, but not as a basestealer. 1991 was his best year, with 36, but he topped thirty three other times. He was 281-388 for his career, which is 72.4%.
This was Daugherty's only home run in 1991 and one of ten for his career. Six of them came in 1990, which was the only time he got over 150 at-bats in a season.
The White Sox lost to California 4-3, increasing the Twins lead and getting us all to start thinking of magic numbers, if we weren't doing so already.
Record: The Twins were 89-60, in first place in the American League West, seven games ahead of Chicago. The Twins' magic number was seven.
In the East, Toronto lost and Boston won, dropping the Blue Jays' lead to just a half game.