OAKLAND 3, MINNESOTA 0 IN OAKLAND
Date: Thursday, April 11.
Batting stars: None. The Twins had five hits, all singles, and no Twin had more than one.
Pitching star: Scott Erickson pitched seven innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on eight hits and a walk and striking out three.
Opposition stars: Joe Slusarski pitched seven shutout innings, giving up five hits and three walks and striking out two. Dennis Eckersley pitched two perfect innings and struck out one. Mike Gallego was 2-for-3 with a triple. Jamie Quirk was 2-for-4.
The game: The Athletics threatened in the second, as Willie Wilson reached on an error and Quirk singled him to third, but a strikeout and a ground out ended the threat. The Twins mounted a small threat in the fourth. Randy Bush led off with a single but was erased on a double play. With two out, Kent Hrbek singled and Chili Davis walked, but Mike Pagliarulo lined out to end the inning.
Oakland broke through in the fourth, scoring when Mark McGwire doubled, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a passed ball. They got singles from Gallego and Ernie Riles in the fifth, but could not add to the lead. The Twins had their biggest threat in the seventh. Davis led off with a walk, went to second on a ground out, and reached third with two out on a wild pitch. Junior Ortiz then walked, but Al Newman hit back to the pitcher for the third out.
The Athletics got insurance runs in the eighth and ninth. Quirk led off the eighth with a single and scored on Gallego's triple. In the ninth, Jose Canseco walked and scored from first on a Harold Baines double. The Twins did not get a baserunner after the seventh.
WP: Slusarski (1-0). LP: Erickson (0-1). S: Eckersley (1).
Notes: Bush was in left, replacing Dan Gladden. Yes, it was a day game. Gene Larkin was in right, replacing Shane Mack, with Kirby Puckett playing center. Gladden pinch-ran for Larkin in the fifth and took over in left, with Bush moving to right. Larkin was apparently injured running the bases, as he would not play again until April 20.
Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper. Newman was at short in place of Greg Gagne. In addition to this being a day game, TK always liked to get his bench players into a game within the first few days of the start of the season, which makes good sense to me.
Davis was 0-for-2 with two walks, making his average 333. Newman was 1-for-3 and so was also batting .333.
Rickey Henderson was caught stealing in the third inning. For the series he was 1-for-3 in stealing bases.
It has also been many a year since I thought about Joe Slusarski. This was his major league debut, and A's fans must have thought they really had something. They didn't. He pitched well through April, but he finished 5-7, 5.27, 1.58 WHIP. It was the only year in which he pitched more than a hundred innings or made more than fifteen starts. He started 1992 in the Oakland rotation but was sent back to the minors in late June and would never be part of a major league rotation again. He bounced around, playing in the organizations of Philadelphia, Cleveland, Milwaukee, California, and Milwaukee again, appearing in two major league games for Oakland in 1993 and twelve for Philadelphia in 1995. He was moved to the bullpen in 1995 and stayed there the rest of his career. He played in Taiwan in 1997, then came back to sign with Houston for 1998. He got three games with the Astros in 1999 and was actually in the majors for most of 2000, appearing in 54 games and going 2-7, 4.21, 1.33 WHIP. He would appear in twelve more games in 2001, eight for Houston and four for Atlanta, then his playing career was over. He was a minor league pitching coach from 2003-2009. For his career, he was 13-21, 5.18, 1.53 WHIP in 305.2 innings (118 games, 34 starts). It sounds like he was often trying to pitch through injuries, and that it worked about as well as it usually does. At last report, Joe Slusarski was living in Austin, Texas and working in contract sales.
Record: The Twins were 1-2, in fifth place in the American League West, two games behind California.