CALIFORNIA 6, MINNESOTA 2 IN CALIFORNIA
Date: Sunday, July 12.
Batting stars: Tony Oliva was 3-for-4 with a walk. Cesar Tovar was 2-for-5. Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer (his twenty-sixth) and a walk.
Pitching stars: Jim Kaat pitched 1.2 perfect innings and struck out one. Stan Williams retired all five men he faced and struck out one.
Opposition stars: Alex Johnson was 2-for-3 with a walk. Jim Fregosi was 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs, and two RBIs. Tom Bradley pitched four shutout innings, giving up five hits and two walks and striking out two.
The game: It started well. With two out in the top of the first, Oliva walked and Killebrew hit a home run, putting the Twins up 2-0. Unfortunately, as you can tell by the final score above, those are the only runs the Twins would get.
It held up for a while. In the fourth, however, Roger Repoz led off with a triple and scored on Fregosi's single. Johnson walked and Jim Spencer's RBI single tied the score. Ken McMullen then hit a two-run double, giving the Angels a 4-2 lead. They scored two more in the fifth when Sandy Alomar walked, Fregosi hit an RBI triple, and Johnson followed with a run-scoring single, making it 6-2 California.
The Twins got two on with two out in the third, but did not get two men on again until there were two out in the eighth. They had two men on with none out in the ninth, but two of the next three batters fanned and the third lined to short, and the game was over.
WP: Dave LaRoche (2-0).
LP: Jim Perry (13-7).
S: Andy Messersmith (2).
Notes: Danny Thompson remained at second base in place of Rod Carew. Jim Holt was in left in place of Brant Alyea. Tom Tischinski was behind the plate in place of George Mitterwald. Paul Ratliff pinch-hit for Tischinski in the seventh. Herman Hill and Rick Renick pinch-hit for pitchers. Tom Hall pinch-ran for Renick.
Oliva was batting .327. Killebrew was batting .322. Tovar was batting .314. Perry was 0-for-2 and was batting .308. Williams had an ERA of 1.44.
Tischinski was 0-for-1 and was batting .167. Hill was 0-for-1 and was batting .105. Dave Boswell pitched a third of an inning without giving up a run and had an ERA of 6.19.
Twins starter Perry pitched just three innings, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk and striking out two. Angels starter Tom Murphy pitched just 2.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks and striking out none.
This was the last game before the all-star break, which apparently led Bill Rigney to decide he could use a couple of starters in relief. Why he didn't instead decide he could use more of his relief pitchers in relief, I don't know. I especially wonder why he thought it was a good idea to use Boswell in relief, when he'd been dealing with an injury all season. This was the first time he had pitched since July 4 and he would not pitch again until July 21. He would make only three more appearances before being shut down for the season.
Hill would be sent back to AAA after this game and would not return until September.
I've said this before, but I still think, in these days of short benches, it would be good to train a couple of pitchers to be pinch-runners.
Messersmith had pitched a complete game two days earlier, on July 10, and then was used as the closer in this game. He was having a good season as a starter, but he would be sent to the bullpen in mid-August anyway, and continue to pitch well.
The Twins split the series with the Angels. They missed a chance to really put California away, but there's nothing wrong with a split on the road, and the Twins still went into the all-star break with a solid lead.
Record: The Twins were 54-28, in first place in the American League West, five games ahead of California.