DETROIT 8, MINNESOTA 6 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Friday, April 24.
Batting stars: Brant Alyea was 2-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs. Cesar Tovar was 2-for-5 with a triple and a double. Rich Reese was 2-for-5. Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-1 with a home run (his third), four walks, and three runs.
Pitching stars: Stan Williams struck out two in 1.2 innings, giving up one hit. Ron Perranoski struck out two in a perfect inning.
Opposition stars: Al Kaline was 5-for-5 with two doubles. Bill Freehan was 2-for-3 with a home run (his second), two walks, and three RBIs. Cesar Gutierrez was 2-for-5 with two runs. Dick McAuliffe was 1-for-5 with a home run, his third. John Hiller pitched 5.2 innings of relief, giving up one run on three hits and three walks and striking out three.
The game: McAuliffe led off the game with a home run. Gutierrez singled and scored on Kaline's double, making the score 2-0 Tigers before an out was recorded. The Twins tied it in the bottom of the first. Tovar doubled, and walks to Jim Holt and Killebrew loaded the bases. With two out, Alyea delivered a two-run double, making the score 2-2.
Detroit went back ahead in the third. Singles by Gutierrez, Kaline, and Norm Cash loaded the bases with none out. Willie Horton struck out, but Jim Northrup's ground ball was booted by second baseman Tovar, resulting in all three runs scoring and Northrup ending up at second base. Freehan's RBI single made it 6-2 Tigers.
The Twins again came back. Tony Oliva doubled, Killebrew walked, and with two out Alyea again hit a two-run double, making it 6-4 after three. In the fourth Tom Hall singled and Tovar tripled, cutting the lead to 6-5. Killebrew homered leading off the sixth, tying the score 6-6.
But in the seventh, the Tigers went into the lead to stay. Northrup drew a one-out walk and Freehan hit a two-run homer, making it 8-6. The Twins put two on with two out in the seventh, but never got a man past first base after that.
WP: Hiller (1-0).
LP: Tom Hall (0-1).
Notes: Tovar was at second base, rather than in center field, with Rod Carew out of the lineup. Holt went to center field. Minnie Mendoza pinch-hit for Holt in the seventh and stayed in the game at second, with Tovar moving to center. Bob Allison pinch-hit for Williams in the eighth. Frank Quilici pinch-ran for Killebrew in the ninth.
Alyea was batting .429. Tovar was batting .385. Killebrew was batting .343. Oliva was 1-for-5 and was batting .327. Williams had an ERA of zero. Perranoski had an ERA of 2.31. Jim Perry started and gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits and no walks in three innings and had an ERA of 2.57. Hall gave up two runs on three hits and three walks in 3.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.84.
Reese raised his average to .194. George Mitterwald was 0-for-4 and was batting .167.
Joe Niekro started for Detroit and pitched 3.1 innings, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out none. No other players with Twins connections played for the Tigers in this game.
Despite the fact that Twins were trailing late, Perranoski appeared for the fifth time in six games. He had pitched 9.2 innings in those games. It would be six days before he pitched again.
Alyea was really tearing it up early, batting .429/.474/.857 in the season's first twelve games. He had three doubles, four home runs, and twenty RBIs.
Detroit manager Mayo Smith apparently decided Killebrew was not going to beat them in this game, as he walked four times. It's not that there was always a base open--he walked in the first with men on first and second, walked in the third with a man on second, walked in the seventh with the bases empty, and walked in the ninth with the bases empty. The one time they pitched to him he led off the fifth with a home run. The walks were not intentional, but it seems clear the Tigers were trying hard not to give Harmon much to hit.
Hall pitched better than his line looks. He pitched three scoreless innings before giving up a two-run homer to Freehan. One could argue that he was left in the game too long, but on the other hand, Freehan was a fine batter (200 career home runs), so it's possible that he simply hit a good pitch.
The Twins had won four, lost two, won four, and lost two. We'll see if they could start another four-game winning streak.
Record: The Twins were 8-4, tied for first in the American League West based on winning percentage, but a half game back of California.