MINNESOTA 6, ANAHEIM 5 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Wednesday, September 3.
Batting stars: Shannon Stewart was 3-for-5 with a double and three runs. Luis Rivas was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his fifteenth.
Pitching stars: Carlos Pulido pitched 3.2 innings of relief, giving up an unearned run on one hit and no walks and striking out two. LaTroy Hawkins struck out two in 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up two hits.
Opposition stars: Chone Figgins was 2-for-4 with a walk. Shawn Wooten was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his sixth.
The game: The Angels drew three walks in the first inning, loading the bases with one out, but did not score. In the second, walks to Adam Kennedy and Wilson Delgado put men on first and second with one out. This time, Figgins delivered an RBi single to put Anaheim up 1-0. In the third, Scott Spiezio doubled, Bengie Molina hit an RBI single and Wooten blasted a two-run homer, giving the Angels a 4-0 lead.
The Twins got on the board in the fourth. Stewart singled, went to third on a Rivas single, and scored on a ground out to make it 4-1. The Twins really got back into the game in the sixth. Cristian Guzman and Stewart started with singles and Rivas followed with an RBI single. A walk to Corey Koskie loaded the bases and a pair of infield outs brought home two more runs, tying the score 4-4.
The tie lasted until the seventh. DaVanan doubled with one out. With two out he went to third on a passed ball, and he scored on a strikeout-plus-wild pitch, putting Anaheim up 5-4.
It was still 5-4 going to the bottom of the ninth. The first two Twins went out. Justin Morneau walked and Dustan Mohr pinch-ran for him. Stewart then doubled down the left-field line and Mohr tried to score from first. The throw beat him, but Mohr's slide knocked the ball from the catcher's glove. Before it could be retrieved, Stewart had also scored and the Twins had an improbable 6-5 win.
WP: Eddie Guardado (2-5). LP: Troy Percival (0-5). S: None.
Notes: Matthew LeCroy was again at first base in the absence of Doug Mientkiewicz. Stewart was in left, Michael Ryan in right, and Jacque Jones at DH. Denny Hocking pinch-ran for LeCroy in the eighth and stayed in the game at first base. Morneau pinch-hit for Guzman in the ninth and, as mentioned above, Mohr pinch-ran for him.
Ryan was 0-for-4 and was batting .350. Stewart was batting .311. Jones was 0-for-4 and was batting .304. A. J. Pierzynski was 1-for-3 and was batting .302.
Grant Balfour started but lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing four runs on four hits and five walks and striking out three. This was the only start of his major league career. He had not started in the minors since 2000. While he didn't pitch well, it must be admitted that he was put into a difficult position--a pitcher with little major league experience pressed into an unfamiliar position during a pennant race. At least he can say his team was unbeaten in games he started in the major leagues.
Pulido's ERA remained at zero through 8.1 innings. Hawkins lowered his ERA to 2.04.
Ramon Ortiz started for the Angels. He pitched 5.1 innings, giving up four runs on six hits and one walk and striking out two.
I remember listening to the end of this game on the radio. As I recall it, the Twins had never scored a run off Troy Percival in his nine-year career. Third base coach Al Newman was asked during the post-game show why he had sent Mohr home when it looked like he had little chance to score. He said something like "I thought there was probably less than a ten percent chance that he'd score, but I thought our chances of getting another hit off Percival were less than that, so I sent him." The logic may be questionable, but you have to admit it worked, and it was a big win for the Twins in the pennant race.
Kansas City won, but the White Sox lost in ten innings, so the Twins moved up.
Record: The Twins were 73-66, tied for first with Chicago, one game ahead of third-place Kansas City.