MINNESOTA 9, KANSAS CITY 8 IN KANSAS CITY
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 Koskie, Allen, 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 Milton, Brad 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.