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BALTIMORE 6, MINNESOTA 1 IN BALTIMORE
Date: Monday, October 5.
Batting stars: Cesar Tovar was 2-for-4 with a triple. Tony Oliva was 2-for-4.
Pitching stars: Bert Blyleven pitched two innings, giving up an unearned run on two hits and no walks and striking out two. Tom Hall struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up a walk.
Opposition stars: Brooks Robinson was 3-for-4 with a double. Dave Johnson was 2-for-3 with a home run (his second), a walk, and two runs. Don Buford was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Jim Palmer struck out twelve in a complete game, giving up one run on seven hits and three walks.
The game: The Orioles took the lead in the first inning, as Buford singled, was bunted to second, and scored on Boog Powell's single. In the second, Palmer reached on a two-base error and scored on Buford's single, making it 2-0. In the third Robinson doubled and went to third on Johnson's single. An error brought home a run, a force out put men on first and third, Palmer hit an RBI double, and a sacrifice fly made the score 5-0.
The Twins put two on with none out in the fourth but did not score. They got on the board in the fifth when Tovar hit a two-out triple and scored on a Leo Cardenas single. But they only got two baserunners after that, and did not get a man past first base. The Orioles added a run in the seventh on Johnson's homer. They won they game 6-1 and took the series 3-0.
WP: Palmer (1-0).
LP: Jim Kaat (0-1).
Notes: Jim Holt was in center field, with Tovar moving to left and Brant Alyea out of the lineup. Paul Ratliff was behind the plate in place of George Mitterwald. Danny Thompson was at second base in place of Rod Carew.
Charlie Manuel pinch-hit for Blyleven in the fifth. Bob Allison pinch-hit for Thompson in the sixth, with Frank Quilici going to second base. Carew pinch-hit for Hall in the seventh. Alyea pinch-hit for Quilici in the ninth. Luis Tiant pinch-ran for Rich Reese in the ninth. Rick Renick pinch-hit for Jim Perry in the ninth.
Kaat started but pitched just two innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks and striking out one.
This was the first playoff appearance for Blyleven. He would not appear in another playoff game until 1979 with Pittsburgh.
The pinch-hit appearance by Allison was the last at-bat of his career.
Oriole pitchers went 5-for-13 with a grand slam, two doubles, four runs, and six RBIs. None of their pitchers were particularly good batters--the highest batting average on the staff was by Tom Phoebus, who did not pitch in this series, and his average was a mere .163. The best OPS among Oriole pitchers (not counting Dave Leonhard's 1-for-2) was .461 by McNally. They had no one else over .350.
Oriole pitchers were just too much for the Twins in this series. They scored only ten runs, and six of them came in the first five innings of the first game.
So another quick, frustrating exit for the Twins. But it was still a fun season, and I still remember it fondly. I hope you do, too, and I hope this was a fun series for anyone who was reading it. We'll put up a couple of season wrap-up posts before the series ends. And, God willing, we'll pick another season to rewind next off-season.
Record: The Twins lost the best-of-five series, 0-3.
BALTIMORE 10, MINNESOTA 6 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Saturday, October 3.
Batting stars: George Mitterwald was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Tony Oliva was 3-for-4. Harmon Killebrew was 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. Cesar Tovar was 2-for-5.
Pitching stars: Stan Williams pitched three shutout innings, giving up two hits and a walk. Ron Perranoski struck out two in a scoreless inning.
Opposition stars: Brooks Robinson was 3-for-3 with a double. Boog Powell was 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. Elrod Hendricks was 2-for-5 with two runs. Mike Cuellar was 1-for-2 with a grand slam. Don Buford was 1-for-3 with a home run and two walks. Dick Hall pitched 4.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out three.
The game: The Twins got on the board first. Tovar led off the first with a single, was bunted to second, and scored on a Killebrew single. The Orioles took the lead in the second, however. One-out singles by Hendricks and Robinson put two on, and Dave Johnson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Mark Belanger hit a potential double play grounder, but a throwing error by Danny Thompson allowed two runs to score and put Baltimore up 2-1. The Twins tied it in the second when Mitterwald singled, went to third on Thompson's double, and scored on a squeeze bunt by Jim Perry.
But the roof fell in in the fourth inning. Frank Robinson and Hendricks led off with singles, and a sacrifice fly by Brooks Robinson put the Orioles ahead again. Singles by Johnson and Belanger loaded the bases, and Mike Cuellar--Mike Cuellar--hit a grand slam to make it 7-2 Baltimore. Buford followed with another homer, and with two out Powell homered, making the score 9-2.
The Twins tried to battle back. In the bottom of the fourth Mitterwald singled, went to second on an infield grounder, and scored on a Tovar single. Killebrew led off the fifth with a home run, followed by an Oliva doubled. Brant Alyea walked, a ground out moved them to second and third, and Mitterwald delivered a two-run single to cut the lead to 9-6.
But that was as good as it would get. The Orioles added a run in the sixth when Hall singled, went to second on a walk to Buford, and scored on Powell's single, making it 10-6. The Twins got only one hit in the last four innings.
WP: Hall (1-0).
LP: Perry (0-1).
Notes: Thompson was at second base in place of Rod Carew. Bob Allison pinch-hit for Bill Zepp in the fourth inning. Frank Quilici went to second in the sixth inning as part of a double switch. Jim Holt pinch-hit for Williams in the eighth. Carew pinch-hit for Quilici in the eighth. Holt stayed in the game in center field, with Tovar moving to second base.
Neither starting pitcher fared well. Perry pitched 3.1 innings, giving up eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits and a walk and striking out one. Mike Cuellar pitched 4.1 innings, allowing six runs on ten hits and a walk and striking out two.
These losses to the Orioles were almost as frustrating as the losses to the Yankees would be thirty-some years later. You lose because Mike Cuellar, of all people, hits a grand slam. Cuellar hit seven home runs for his career and had a lifetime line of .115/.128/.171. And he hits a grand slam. Incredible. It's really to the Twins credit that they continued to fight and battled back as well as they did. I mean, I know that's what they're supposed to do and what they get paid to do, but still, giving up that grand slam, and then seeing two more home runs that same inning, had to be really disheartening.
It was a different time, and that plays into it, but I still think you can question using one of the two best relievers, Williams, for three innings in that situation. Yes, you never want to give up on a playoff game, and back then, they still might bring Williams back in the next game. But still, burning one of your two best relievers in a game that, let's face it, the odds are against you coming back to win doesn't make much sense.
But, tomorrow's another day, and the Twins would try to get the series back to even.
Record: The Twins trailed the best-of-five series, 0-1.
NEW YORK 2, MINNESOTA 1 IN NEW YORK
Date: Wednesday, June 10.
Batting star: Tony Oliva was 2-for-4 with a triple.
Pitching stars: Bert Blyleven pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out three. Ron Perranoski pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Thurman Munson was 2-for-3 with a double. Horace Clarke was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his fourth. Mel Stottlemyre pitched a complete game, giving up one run on four hits and a walk and striking out seven.
The game: Neither team advanced a man past second, and neither team had more than one man on base, until the fourth, when Oliva led off with a triple and scored on a ground out to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. With two out in the fifth, Stottlemyre singled and Clarke hit a two-run homer, putting the Yankees up 2-1.
And that was it. The Twins did not get a hit after Oliva's triple and the 2-1 score held up.
WP: Stottlemyre (6-4).
LP: Blyleven (1-1).
Notes: Jim Holt was again in left field in place of Brant Alyea. Charlie Manuel pinch-hit for Blyleven in the eighth.
Rod Carew was 0-for-3 and was batting .377. Oliva was batting .335. Harmon Killebrew was 0-for-4 and was batting .313. Blyleven had an ERA of 1.93. Perranoski had an ERA of 2.12.
What a frustrating way to lose a game. Two out, no one on, the pitcher up. He gets a hit, but no problem. Horace Clarke, the player who would become emblematic of the state of the Yankees in the mid-60s to mid-70s, was next up. And he hits a home run, the last homer he would hit all season and one of twenty-seven for his career.
Getting only one run is frustrating, too, but Stottlemyre was a fine pitcher. 164-139, 2.97, 1.22 WHIP, five all-star appearances, twenty-game winner three times. A torn rotator cuff brought his career to an end at age thirty-two. If he'd pitched longer, or pitched in an era where the Yankees were good, he'd have had a shot at the Hall of Fame.
Record: The Twins were 34-17, in first place in the American League West, two games ahead of California.
It's 8:20pm on Wednesday, but I'm making the coffee now to prevent Milkman from brewing up any more prognostications.
11:18pm update: Did the Twins clinch the second AL Wild Card as Spooky spooky'd? Yes. That was also the last opportunity for them to advance their crazy season despite losing. Be careful what you wish for...
The beatings will continue until morale improves.
We'll do this as long as we have to...
This is a pretty groovy song, actually.
Our boys couldn't compete. Complete outplayed for about 176 minutes. Hopefully baseball will be better.
Didn't work, Meat.
Did... did Elvis just give me the finger?