Tag Archives: Grant Balfour

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-nine


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.

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-four


Date:  Friday, August 29.

Batting stars:  Doug Mientkiewicz was 4-for-5.  Shannon Stewart was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs.  Matthew LeCroy was 1-for-3 with a home run (his fifteenth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Carlos Pulido pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.  Grant Balfour pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  LaTroy Hawkins struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.  Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect inning and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Mark Teixeira was 2-for-4 with a triple.  Todd Greene was 2-for-4.  Hank Blalock was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Laynce Nix was 1-for-3 with a three-run homer (his fifth) and a walk.

The game:  LeCroy had the game's first hit in the second inning and it was a home run, putting the Twins up 1-0.  The Rangers tied it in the bottom of the second when Teixeira hit a two-out triple and scored on Greene's single.  Texas took a big lead in the third.  Michael Young led off with a double, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a sacrifice fly.  With two out and none on, Rafael Palmeiro doubled, Shane Spencer walked, and Nix hit a three-run homer to put the Rangers ahead 5-1.

The Twins started their comeback in the fifth.  Singles by Torii Hunter and Cristian Guzman were followed by a ground out, putting men on second and third with two down.  Stewart delivered a two-run single, cutting the lead to 5-3.  The Twins sent just three men to the plate in each of the sixth and seventh innings, however, leaving the score 5-3 as we went to the eighth.

In the eighth, Stewart doubled, but was still on second with two out.  Mientkiewicz had an RBI single to make the score 5-4.  Walks to LeCroy and Jacque Jones loaded the bases and a Dazzle Special (wild pitch) tied the score.  Hunter was then intentionally walked to load the bases and A. J. Pierzynski was hit by a pitch to put the Twins up 6-5.  Twins Baseball!!!!

Texas put men on first and third in the eighth but did not score.  In the ninth, Chris Gomez and Luis Rivas singled to put men on first and second.  Mientkiewicz then came through again, getting a two-run single-plus-error to give the Twins an 8-5 lead.  The Rangers went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Balfour (1-0).  LP:  John Thomson (12-11).  S:  Guardado (30).

Notes:  Denny Hocking remained at third in place of Corey Koskie.  Jones was in left and Stewart in right.

Michael Ryan pinch-hit for Guzman in the eighth.  Gomez went in at shortstop in the ninth.  Dustan Mohr pinch-ran for LeCroy in the eighth.

Ryan was 0-for-1 and was batting .375.  Stewart was batting .314.  Jones was 0-for-3 and was batting .308.  Mientkiewicz raised his average to .303.

Joe Mays lasted just three innings, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks and striking out one.  His ERA was 6.37.  This was his last start of the season.  He would make just one more appearance, then be shut down for the rest of the season.  The bullpen bailed the Twins out, pitching six shutout innings and giving up five hits and a walk and striking out five.

This was Pulido's first appearance in the majors since 1994, a gap of nine years.  In between he played for a few different organizations and also played in Japan, Taiwan, and independent ball.

This was Balfour's first major league win.  In a pennant race, Ron Gardenhire used two pitchers who people had no reason to have much confidence in, and they rewarded him with four shutout innings and a win.

Pulido's ERA was zero.  Balfour's ERA was 1.76.  Hawkins had an ERA of 2.10.

Kansas City and Chicago both lost, so the Twins gained ground on both.

Record:  The Twins were 70-64, in third place in the American League Central, a half game behind both Chicago and Kansas City, who were tied for first.

2003 Rewind: Game Eighty-four


Date:  Thursday, July 3.

Batting star:  Matthew LeCroy was 2-for-4 with a home run, his eighth.

Pitching star:  Kenny Rogers pitched 6.2 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks and striking out three.

Opposition stars:  C. C. Sabathia pitched a complete game, giving up one run on four hits and one walk and striking out five.  Shane Spencer was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.  Coco Crisp was 2-for-5 with a stolen base (his fifth) and two runs.  Jody Gerut was 1-for-4 with a home run, his ninth.

The game:  Crisp led off the game with a bunt single and scored from first on Milton Bradley's double to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.  The Twins put men on second and third with one out in the second, but a strikeout and a ground out ended the inning.  In the third, ex-Twin Matt Lawton and Bradley drew two-out walks and Spencer singled home a run to make it 2-0.

Crisp scored again in the fifth.  He had a one-out single, stole second, and scored on Spencer's single to make it 3-0.  The Twins put two on with two out in the fifth, but again could do nothing with it.  In the eighth, Gerut hit a leadoff home run to increase the lead to 4-0.

The Twins did not threaten to get back into the game.  Their lone run came on LeCroy's home run with one out in the ninth, but all that did was spoil Sabathia's shutout.

WP:  Sabathia (8-3).  LP:  Rogers (7-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  The Twins used their B lineup against Sabathia, if that's any consolation.  Tom Prince was behind the plate in place of A. J. Pierzynski.  LeCroy was at first base in place of Doug Mientkiewicz.  Dustan Mohr was again in left and Bobby Kielty in right, with Jacque Jones still out.  Lew Ford was in center field, with Torii Hunter as DH.

Ford was 0-for-3 to drop his average to .333.  Corey Koskie was 1-for-3 and was batting .305.

Grant Balfour made his season debut with the Twins in this game, striking out five in 2.1 innings.  He gave up one run on two hits and a walk.  It was not his major league debut--he had appeared in two games in 2001.  He was not a good pitcher for the Twins, but he would become one in 2008 with Tampa Bay and would make the all-star team with Oakland in 2013.  He didn't have his first good season until he was thirty--I guess he's an example of "sometimes it takes guys a while to figure it out."

Sabathia had 38 complete games in his career.  Ten of them came in 2008, and seven of them came in the half-season he pitched for Milwaukee.

The Twins had now lost four in a row and six of eight.  They were starting to be in danger of dropping below .500.  They were also in danger of dropping to third place.

Record:  The Twins were 43-31, in second place in the American League Central, 2.5 games behind Kansas City.  They were just one game ahead of third-place Chicago.