MINNESOTA 5, BOSTON 0 IN BOSTON
Date: Saturday, July 20.
Batting stars: Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his twelfth) and a walk. Junior Ortiz was 2-for-4.
Pitching stars: Scott Erickson pitched seven shutout innings, giving up seven hits and a walk and striking out one. Mark Guthrie struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.
Opposition stars: Mike Gardiner pitched 7.1 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks and striking out two. Mo Vaughn was 2-for-3 with a walk. Wade Boggs was 2-for-4 with a double.
The game: With one out in the first, Chuck Knoblauch reached on an error and Puckett followed with a two-run homer, putting the Twins up 2-0. The Twins started the second with two walks, but a caught stealing helped take them out of the inning. The Red Sox got a pair of singles in the third, but a double play helped take them out of the inning.
The Twins missed a chance to break the game open in the fourth. With one out, Ortiz and Greg Gagne singled and Randy Bush walked, loading the bases. The Twins got one run on a ground out, but that was it, so the lead was only 3-0.
Boston missed a chance in the sixth. Boggs led off with a double, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. Jody Reed then singled and Vaughn walked, but a pair of ground outs ended the inning. They never really threatened again. The Twins added two runs in the ninth when Shane Mack doubled, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a fielder's choice. Singles by Jarvis Brown and Knoblauch produced another run, making it 5-0.
WP: Erickson (13-3). LP: Gardiner (3-4). S: Guthrie (1).
Notes: Bush started in left field in place of Dan Gladden, with Mack in right. Again, Tom Kelly usually did that the other way, but the configuration of Fenway Park apparently changed his mind. With Erickson pitching, Ortiz was again behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.
Brown came in for defense in the seventh in place of Bush. Brown went to right, with Mack moving to left. Al Newman pinch-hit for Mike Pagliarulo in the eighth and stayed in the game at third base.
Puckett raised his average to .326. Erickson lowered his ERA to 2.02.
Erickson was incredibly efficient, throwing just sixty-five pitches in seven innings. That was obviously much easier on his arm. Had he been able to do that all season, he might not have had the struggles he had later in the year, but of course, something like that is not really sustainable.
Puckett had an eleven game hitting streak. He was 18-for-46 in that span. His average had only gone from .316 to .326, and in fact his average went down a little in the first three games of the streak, when he went 3-for-12.
This was the first save of Guthrie's career. He would have two for the season and fourteen for his career. He would make only two more starts in his career, both in 1994.
Mike Gardiner is one of those guys who kept getting chances in the majors despite the fact that he never did anything there. He appeared in five games in 1990 and went 0-2, 10.66. Despite that, he got 22 starts in 1991, going 9-10, 4.85. in 1992 he went 4-10, 4.75 in 28 games, 18 of them starts. He moved to the bullpen in 1993 and appeared in 34 games combined for Montreal and Detroit, going 2-3, 4.93. 1994 was his best season, as he was 2-2, 3.97. In 1995 he went 0-0, 14.59 and then he was done as a big-leaguer. For his career, he was 17-27, 5.21, 1.48 WHIP in 393.2 innings (136 games, 46 starts). His AAA numbers were 34-22, 4.07, so it's not like he was blowing people away there, either. I'm sure he's a nice guy--he wouldn't have gotten all those chances if he wasn't. But it always bugs me to see a guy like this, who's never done anything in the majors, get chance after chance after chance, while other guys do well in AAA year after year and can't get the call.
The Twins had won three in a row and four of five. The White Sox beat Milwaukee 7-6 in ten innings, so the Twins lead remained the same.
Record: The Twins were 54-38, in first place in the American League West, 4.5 games ahead of Chicago.