Tag Archives: Eric Milton

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Forty-nine


Date:  Sunday, September 14.

Batting stars:  Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-4 with a home run (his eleventh), a stolen base (his fourth), and three RBIs.  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4 with two doubles.

Pitching stars:  Eric Milton pitched five innings, giving up two runs on five hits and no walks and striking out two.  Juan Rincon pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  LaTroy Hawkins struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Eddie Guardado struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Travis Hafner was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his twelfth) and a double.  Jody Gerut was 2-for-4 with a home run, his twenty-second.  Victor Martinez was 2-for-4.  Cliff Lee struck out seven in seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and a walk.

The game:  Each team got a two-out double in the second, but neither team scored until the fourth, when each team did.  In the top of the fifth Pierzynski doubled and scored on a two-out single by Michael Ryan.  The Indians came back with two in the bottom of the inning, as Martinez singled and Hafner followed with a two-run homer.  The Twins went up 3-2 in the sixth when Shannon Stewart singled and Mientkiewicz hit a two-run homer.  Cleveland again came back in the bottom of the inning, with Gerut hitting a home run to tie it 3-3.

Back-to-back hit-by-pitches gave the Twins two on with none out in the eighth.  A bunt moved the runners to second and third.  A fielder's choice resulted in a man thrown out at the plate and men at first and third with two out, but Mientkiewicz came through with a single to put the Twins up 4-3.  The Twins got an insurance run in the ninth when Corey Koskie singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Dustan Mohr's single.  The Indians got only one hit in the last three innings and the game went to the Twins.

WP:  Rincon (5-6).  LP:  Danys Baez (2-9).  S:  Guardado (36).

Notes:  Michael Cuddyer was at third base in place of Koskie.  Koskie came in for defense in the eighth.  Stewart was in left with Ryan in right.  Mohr was in center in place of Torii Hunter.  Hunter came in to play center in the seventh, with Mohr moving to right and Ryan coming out of the game.

I wonder if Ryan was injured, possibly in a collision with Mohr.  He was removed after the first out of the seventh inning, which is an odd time to make a defensive substitution.  That first out is recorded, at b-r.com's play-by-play, as "Flyball: RF-CF (CF-RF)".  I don't know what that means, exactly, but it certainly sounds odd.  Ryan played the next day, so if he was injured it wasn't serious.

There was one other substitution.  Jacque Jones pinch-hit for Luis Rivas in the eighth.  Denny Hocking then pinch-ran for Jones and remained in the game at second base.  I wouldn't have thought of Hocking being faster than Jones, although I wouldn't have thought of him as being much slower, either.  Perhaps Jones was still dealing with a minor injury.

Ryan was 1-for-2 and was batting .407.  Stewart was 1-for-4 and was batting .312.  Mientkiewicz raised his average to .308.  Pierzynski went up to .303.  Jones was 0-for-1 and was batting .302.

This was Milton's first start of the season.  He had missed the entire year up to this point with a knee injury, making just one start in Fort Myers prior to this game.  Given that, he did very well in this game.

Hawkins lowered his ERA to 1.88.  Guardado's ERA went down to 2.85.

It's interesting that, with only fourteen games remaining in a pennant race, Ron Gardenhire held out two of his starters and used a starting pitcher who had not pitched all season.  But it worked.

The White Sox and Royals again both won, so the standings remained unchanged.

Record:  The Twins were 80-69, tied for first in the American League Central with Chicago, 3.5 games ahead of third-place Kansas City.


Happy Birthday–August 4

Jake Beckley (1867)
Dolf Luque (1890)
Chick Galloway (1896)
Ski Melillo (1899)
Bill Hallahan (1902)
George Caster (1907)
Tuck Stainback (1911)
Luke Easter (1915)
Don Kolloway (1918)
Dallas Green (1934)
Frank Kostro (1937)
Ray Oyler (1938)
Cleon Jones (1942)
Johnny Grubb (1948)
Roger Clemens (1962)
B. J. Surhoff (1964)
Matt Merullo (1965)
Troy O’Leary (1969)
Bob Howry (1973)
Eric Milton (1975)
Scott Linebrink (1976)
Josh Roenicke (1982)
Jason Adam (1991)

While this is a pretty good day for names, it should be pointed out that none of these players was listed here because of his name.  In fact, each of them had a substantial baseball career.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–August 4

Random Rewind: 1999, Game One Hundred Seven


Date:  Friday, August 6.

Batting stars:  Corey Koskie was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.  Ron Coomer was 3-for-5 with a home run (his thirteenth), three runs, and three RBIs.  Cristian Guzman was 3-for-5 with a stolen base (his fifth) and two runs.  Chad Allen was 3-for-5.  Todd Walker was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Dan Perkins pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.  Travis Miller pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Hector Carrasco pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk.  Mike Trombley allowed three walks but still pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two.

Opposition stars:  Jeremy Giambi was 3-for-5.  Mike Sweeney was 2-for-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs.  Rey Sanchez was 2-for-4.  Joe Randa was 2-for-5 with two doubles.  Johnny Damon was 2-for-5 with a walk and a stolen base, his twenty-second.  Carlos Febles was 1-for-2 with a two-run homer (his ninth) and a stolen base (his eighteenth).  Carlos Beltran was 1-for-6 with a home run, his seventeenth.

The game:  In the top of the first Guzman had a one-out single, went to second on a Walker walk, took third on a sacrifice fly, and scored on Koskie's single to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  The Royals came right back in the bottom of the first.  Damon led off with a single and Febles followed with a two-run homer, making it 2-1 Kansas City.

Kansas City added to their lead.  In the second Sanchez reached second on a single-plus-error and scored on Damon's single.  Beltran led off the third with a home run, Sweeney singled, Jermaine Dye walked, and Randa had an RBI double.  The first out followed, but then Giambi had an RBI single and a sacrifice fly plated another run.  The Royals led 7-1 after three innings.

The Twins did not start their comeback until the sixth.  Walker led off with a double and went to third on Coomer's single.  Koskie had a sacrifice fly for the first out, but Chad Allen singled and Matt Lawton walked, loading the bases.  Terry Steinbach had an RBI single and a ground out plated another run, cutting the margin to 7-4.

Kansas City scored a two-out run in the sixth when Sweeney doubled and scored on Dye's single.  The Twins came right back with two in the seventh.  Coomer homered for one run, and consecutive two-out singles by KoskieAllen, and Lawton made the score 8-6.  They took the lead for the first time since the first inning in the eighth.  Torii Hunter and Guzman had one-out singles.  With two down Coomer hit a two-run single to tie it.  Koskie singled him to second, and Allen had another single, bringing home the go-ahead run.

The Royals did not go away quietly.  In the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Scott Pose walked and stole second.  With two out, Tom Kelly gave an intentional walk to Damon, putting the potential winning run on base.  An accidental walk to Jed Hansen (who?) loaded the bases, but Beltran struck out to end the game.

WP:  Miller (2-0).  LP:  Scott Service (4-4).  S:  Trombley (17).

Notes:  Jacque Jones was in center field, rather than Hunter.  Both had center field as their primary position in 1999, with Hunter playing 107 games then and Jones 82.  Clearly, then, there were games when each of them played in center field at some point, and that was the case in this game.  Jones started, but Hunter pinch-hit for him in the sixth and stayed in the game in center field.

Coomer was the DH rather than Marty Cordova.  This was one of only seven times Coomer was at DH in 1999.  He played 71 games at first base, which he shared with Doug Mientkiewicz, and 57 games at third base, which he shared with Koskie.  He was, of course, the Twins' "all-star" in 1999.

Cordova pinch-hit for Mientkiewicz in the sixth inning, with Denny Hocking then going to first base.  Brent Gates replaced Walker at second base in the eighth.

Terry Steinbach led the team in batting at .309.  He would finish at .284.  Koskie was batting .308.  He would finish at .310, which would lead the team at the end.  The Twins were eighth in team batting average at .264.

Coomer led the team in home runs at 16.  Koskie followed with 14.  Koskie had 11 and Allen 10.  The Twins were dead last in home runs with 105, forty below the thirteenth-place team, Tampa Bay.

Twins starter Eric Milton did not retire a man in the third inning.  In two official innings, he allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and two walks.  He did strike out four.  You couldn't tell it from this game, but he actually pitched pretty well over the last four months of the season, going 5-7, 3.86, 1.10 WHIP.  Other than MiltonBrad Radke, and Joe Mays (6-9, 3.72 as a starter), the Twins' starters were pretty terrible.  LaTroy Hawkins (10-14, 6.66), Mike Lincoln (6-10, 6.84), and Dan Perkins (1-7, 6.54).  The Twins had 66 starts made by pitchers who had ERAs over 6.  It's hard to win very many games that way, and of course in 1999 the Twins didn't.

Trombley became the closer when Rick Aguilera was traded in May.  He did okay, saving 24 games and getting only one blown save.  He wasn't used the way closers are now, or even the way closers usually were then.  He came into a lot of tie games and came into a number of games in the eighth inning.  It was his only shot at being a closer--he signed with Baltimore in 2000.  The Twins didn't really have a closer in 2000, Hawkins was given the job in 2001, and eventually Eddie Guardado took over.

Jed Hansen played in parts of three seasons for the Royals, mostly at second base.  He played in 87 games, had 208 plate appearances, and batted .256/.342/.375.  Most of his positives were in his first season, 1997, when he batted .309/.394/.426 in 111 plate appearances--the rest of the time he was around the Mendoza line.  He was a good hitter in the low minors but basically topped out at AA.  In just over a thousand AAA games he batted .255/.342/.433.  Not embarrassing or anything, but not something that projects as a good batter in the majors, either.  Had he been a really good fielder he might have been able to have a career as a utility infielder, but one gets the impression that he was nothing special as a defender.  He kept playing until 2006, but 1999 was his swan song in the majors.

The was the first game of a three-game series which the Twins would sweep.  They were coming off a four-game losing streak.

Record:  The Twins were 45-62, in third place in the American League Central, 19.5 games behind Cleveland.  They would finish 63-97, in fifth (last) place, 33 games behind Cleveland.

The Royals were 45-63, in fourth place in the American League Central, 20 games behind Cleveland.  They would finish 64-97, 32.5 games behind Cleveland.

Rewind Record:  The Twins are 37-33 in Random Rewind games.

November 21, 1998: Random Day in Twins History

I used a random number generator to pick a season from the past with the idea that I would quickly highlight the Twins history that occurred today in that year.  The generator sent me to the year 1998.

The Twins concluded a sixth-consecutive losing season in 1998 and began to finally embrace a full rebuild.   Relatively cheap veterans Greg Swindell, Bob Tewksbury, Mike Morgan, Otis Nixon, and Orlando Merced were all traded during the season or allowed to leave as free agents.  Paul Molitor finally retired.

The STrib's John Millea noted, "Don't be surprised if the 1999 season is Tom Kelly's last as manager of the team.  The payroll is getting smaller, the players are getting younger, and Kelly's patience continues to wear thin.  He is at his best when the clubhouse is full of veterans who have been through the wars and earned their stripes.  Kelly is not exactly the fatherly type when it comes to youngsters, and sometimes that has resulted in strained relationships that can hinder the ballclub's progress."

Well, that wasn't entirely true.  1999 wasn't Kelly's last season with the team, although the payroll did get smaller and the roster got younger.  Who knows how Kelly's patience wore.  The sentence about striped veterans is the type of non-factual, journalistic mumbo-jumbo that would make Ken Tremendous a cult hero within years.

On this date, Terry Steinbach had filed for free agency and the Twins were mulling whether to bring him back.  Their internal candidates were Javier Valentin and A.J. Pierzynski, and the team did not believe either was fully ready for the next season.  Still, the team had been disappointed with Steinbach's production behind the plate the previous two years.

Postscript: On January 4, the Twins finally re-signed Steinbach.  Despite being nearly ready, it would take Pierzynski two more years to become the starting catcher mainly due to some, um, maturity issues.  One wonders at the official number of "wars" Pierzynski has endured in his career.

Did You Know that David Ortiz played in 86 games, and Torii Hunter played in 6 games that season?  On the mound, Eric Milton started 32 games that year.  Hunter has been retired for one season, and Ortiz just retired.  Milton was just 105 days older than Ortiz, and just 122 days older than Hunter, but  has not played in a game since June 27, 2009 even though he earned more than $47 million in his career.

Did You Also Know that the winning pitcher in Milton's last game was King Felix?

Furthermore, Did You Know that the final hitter Milton faced was Junior Griffey?