TORONTO 7, MINNESOTA 5 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Tuesday, August 21.
Batting stars: Cristian Guzman was 3-for-5. A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-3. Brian Buchanan was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eighth.
Pitching stars: Eddie Guardado pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one. Todd Jones pitched a perfect inning.
Opposition stars: Carlos Delgado was 3-for-5 with a home run (his thirty-sixth), two runs, and two RBIs. Raul Mondesi was 2-for-3 with a home run (his twenty-second), a double, a walk, and two RBIs. Alex Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Shannon Stewart was 2-for-5 with a home run (his ninth) and a double. Jose Cruz was 1-for-5 with a home run, his twenty-fourth. Scott Eyre struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.
The game: Brad Radke was pitching and so, as you might guess, the Blue Jays scored in the first inning. With one out, Gonzalez singled and was balked to second. Delgado delivered a two-out RBI single and scored from first on Mondesi's double, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead before the Twins came to bat. The Twins put men on first and second with one out in the bottom of the first, but a double play took them out of the inning.
The Blue Jays wasted a leadoff triple in the third. It looked like it might cost them, as the Twins tied it up in the bottom of the inning. Pierzynski led off with a single and scored on Luis Rivas' double-plus-error. Rivas scored on a Guzman single to make it 2-2. The Twins then took the lead in the fourth on Buchanan's two-out home run. Cruz homered in the fifth, evening the score again at three. The Twins took the lead back again in the bottom of the fifth, as Doug Mientkiewicz hit a two-out double and Corey Koskie circled the bases on a double-plus-error-plus-error, giving the Twins a 5-3 advantage.
Jack Cressend came in to relieve Radke in the sixth. He gave up a home run to each of the first three batters he faced, Stewart, Delgado, and Mondesi, to put Toronto back in front at 6-5. They added a run in the seventh when Gonzalez singled, Stewart doubled, Mondesi was intentionally walked with two out, and Brad Fullmer singled, making the score 7-5.
The Twins had their chances after that. With one out in the seventh, Jacque Jones walked and Guzman singled, with a wild pitch moving them to second and third. In the ninth, singles by Denny Hocking and Guzman put men on first and second with two out. In both cases, however, the Twins were turned aside and 7-5 was the final score.
WP: Brandon Lyon (2-2). LP: Cressend (2-2). S: Billy Koch (29).
Notes: Buchanan was in right field. Matt Lawton had been the regular right fielder, but he was traded to the Mets for Rick Reed at the end of July. Buchanan was the mostly-regular right fielder the rest of the way.
Hocking pinch-hit for Pierzynski in the ninth.
Mientkiewicz was batting .326. He would finish at .306. Guzman was batting .314. He would finish at .302. The Twins were fourth in team batting at .272.
Torii Hunter led the team in home runs with 27. Koskie was right behind at 26. The Twins had six other players with double-digit home runs: David Ortiz (18). Mientkiewicz (15), Jones (14), Guzman (10), Lawton (10), and Buchanan (10). The Twins were ninth in home runs with 164.
Ortiz is widely considered to have been a bust during his time with the Twins. He certainly wasn't the "Big Papi" he would become, but in 2001 he hit 18 homers and had an OPS of .799. In 2002, his age 26 seasons, he batted 272, hit 20 homers, and had an OPS of .839. I'm not claiming that's Hall-of-Fame worthy or anything, but it's a long way from Scott Stahoviak.
Radke pitched five innings, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Radke had a good year in 2001, going 15-11, 3.94. The best starter was actually Joe Mays, in his one good year: he went 17-13, 3.16. Eric Milton was solid: 15-7, 4.32. But from there, it went downhill fast: Kyle Lohse (4-7, 5.68), Rick Reed (4-6, 5.19), J. C. Romero (1-4, 6.23). Romero, of course, would go on to give the Twins a couple of good years out of the bullpen. Reed would go on to be an important contributor to the 2002 division champions.
Cressend was actually a solid reliever for the Twins in 2001, although you obviously couldn't tell it by this game. He went 3-2, 3.67, 1.17 WHIP in 56.1 innings (44 games). He gave up six home runs on the season, half of them in this game.
This was the last of a streak in which the Twins would win just one game out of twelve. They lost eight in a row, won one, then lost the next three.
Record: The Twins were 65-61, in second place in the American League Central, 5.5 games behind Cleveland. They would finish 85-77, in second place, 6 games behind Cleveland.
The Blue Jays were 60-66, in third place in the American League East, 14 games behind New York. They would finish 80-82, in third place, 16 games behind New York.
Random record: The Twins are 36-33 in Random Rewind games.