MINNESOTA 2, CLEVELAND 0 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Friday, June 7.
Batting stars: Kent Hrbek was 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, his third. Chili Davis was 1-for-3 with a home run (his twelfth) and a walk.
Pitching stars: Allan Anderson pitched eight shutout innings, giving up two hits and one walk and striking out three. He threw just 81 pitches. Rick Aguilera pitched a perfect ninth and struck out one.
Opposition star: Tom Candiotti pitched 7.1 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks and striking out five.
The game: Neither team had a hit until the bottom of the second, when Davis led off the inning with a home run. The Indians got their first base runner in the fourth, when Mike Huff led off with a single. He was immediately erased by a double play. Cleveland would not get another hit until the eighth, when Joel Skinner led off with a double. Pinch-runner Alex Cole was caught stealing third, so that baserunner was also wiped out. They did have two on in the seventh, when Carlos Baerga was hit by a pitch and Brook Jacoby walked, but a fly out ended that inning.
The Twins added a run in the eighth. Chuck Knoblauch and Hrbek singled, and a wild pitch brought home the run to make it 2-0.
WP: Anderson (3-4). LP: Candiotti (7-3). S: Aguilera (14).
Notes: Dan Gladden was dropped to the ninth spot in the batting order, with Greg Gagne leading off. It would be the only time all year he would bat ninth. Shane Mack was now the right fielder. Al Newman pinch-hit for Mike Pagliarulo in the eighth and remained in the game at third base.
Brian Harper was 0-for-3 with a walk and was batting .326. Kirby Puckett was 0-for-4 and was batting .324. Gagne was 1-for-4 and was batting .309. Davis was batting .304. Aguilera's ERA went down to 2.25.
Newman was 0-for-1 and was batting .184.
This was obviously the best game of the year for Anderson. It's too bad, given his pitch count, that he wasn't allowed to finish the game. Aguilera had pitched in each of the team's last three games, so it's not like he needed the work. One can only conclude that Tom Kelly did not trust Anderson with a two-run lead in the ninth and so decided he needed to bring Aguilera in. Which, given how Anderson had pitched so far this season, was understandable, but he was certainly in complete control in this game.
In 1991, Candiotti had an ERA of 2.65 (sixth in the league), a 1.16 WHIP, and yet had a record of just 13-13. Playing half the season for Cleveland didn't help, but he also played half the season for Toronto, a very good team. He had a few seasons like that, where he had a low ERA, a low WHIP, but a poor won-lost record. 1992: 11-15, 3.00, 1.18. 1993: 8-10, 3.12, 1.23. 1995: 7-14, 3.50, 1.29. For his career, he was 151-164, 3.73, 1.30. One has to conclude that he didn't get a whole lot of support for a lot of his career.
The win gave the Twins a six-game winning streak, their longest of the season so far. Pitching was definitely driving the streak. They had scored more than four runs only once, but had only given up as many as four once. They were out-scoring their opponents 25-13, for an average score of about 4-2. And with the winning streak, they were starting to climb in the standings, as you'll see below.
Record: The Twins were 29-25, fourth in the American League West, just five percentage points behind third-place Texas. They were four games behind first-place Oakland and led fifth-place Seattle by a half game.