Tag Archives: jim kaat

Happy Birthday–November 7

Chris Von der Ahe (1851)
Ed "The Only" Nolan (1857)
Bill Brubaker (1910)
Dick Stuart (1932)
Jake Gibbs (1938)
Jim Kaat (1938)
Joe Niekro (1944)
Buck Martinez (1948)
Willie Norwood (1950)
Guy Sularz (1955)
Orlando Mercado (1961)
Russ Springer (1968)
Todd Ritchie (1971)
Glendon Rusch (1974)
Esmerling Vasquez (1983)
Danny Santana (1990)

Promoter/entrepreneur Chris von der Ahe, referred to as "Bill Veeck with a handlebar mustache", owned the St. Louis franchise from 1882-1899.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–November 7

Random Rewind: 1967, Game One Hundred Sixty-one


Date:  Tuesday, September 26.

Batting stars:  Bob Allison was 3-for-3 with a home run (his twenty-fourth), a triple, a walk, and three runs.  Rod Carew was 3-for-4 with a stolen base, his fifth.  Harmon Killebrew was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his forty-second and forty-third) and three RBIs.

Pitching star:  Jim Kaat struck out thirteen in a complete game.  He gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks.

Opposition stars:  Bobby Knoop was 1-for-3 with a walk.  Aurelio Rodriguez was 1-for-4 with two RBIs.

The game:  Allison hit a one-out triple in the second and scored on Carew's single to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  It didn't last long, as the Angels scored all three of their runs in the third.  Knoop singled, Bob Rodgers walked, and an error loaded the bases with none out.  Rodriguez then singled in two runs to put California ahead.  After a ground out Rick Reichardt walked to reload the bases and Bubba Morton singled home the third run.  Kaat then struck out Don Mincher and Woodie Held to limit the damage.

Allison homered in the fourth to cut the lead to 3-2.  Then came the sixth.  Cesar Tovar singled and Killebrew followed with a two-run homer to put the Twins in front.  With one out Allison walked and Carew singled.  Ted Uhlaender hit into a force out, but an error allowed Allison to score and make it 5-3.  Jerry Zimmerman was intentionally walked and Kaat reached on an error, increasing the lead to 6-3.

That was pretty much it.  The Angels managed only a single single in the last three innings.  Killebrew homered in the seventh to make the final score 7-3.

WP:  Kaat (16-13).  LP:  Jim McGlothlin (11-8).  S:  None.

Notes:  Tovar was at third, which was one of his two primary positions (the other was center field).  He played 72 games at third and 64 in center--I wonder if anyone else has ever played more than sixty games at each of those two positions in the same season.  If so, I suspect it's a pretty short list.  Rich Rollins played the most games at third with 97 and Uhlaender played the most in cetner at 118.  As I mentioned before, Tovar played in every Twins game this year (which was 164 thanks to two ties) without having a regular position.

I've been through the stats of the 1967 team fairly recently, so I won't do it again.

I suppose walking Zimmerman to face Kaat was the thing to do, but there really wasn't much to choose between the two at bat.  Zimmerman batted .167/.243/.192.  Kaat batted .172/.226/.253.  Zimmerman was intentionally walked twelve times in his career, a direct result of always batting ahead of the pitcher.  In fact, he had a lower OPS than three of the Twins pitchers in 1967, KaatJim Perry, and Dave Boswell.

Kaat, of course, would be injured later that week in the season's penultimate game, an injury which would contribute to the Twins not winning the pennant.

Record:  The Twins were 91-68, in first place in the American League, one game ahead of Chicago and Boston.  They would finish 91-71, tied for second with Detroit, one game behind Boston.

The Angels were 81-75, in fifth place in the American League, 8.5 games behind Minnesota.  They would finish 84-77, in fifth place, 7.5 games behind Boston.

Random record:  The Twins are 53-49 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1970, Game Nine


Date:  Tuesday, April 21.

Batting stars:  Cesar Tovar was 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk, and a stolen base.  Harmon Killebrew was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, his second.

Pitching star:  Jim Kaat pitched 7.2 innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on seven hits and no walks and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Carlos May was 2-for-4 with a double.  Tommy John pitched six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out one.

The game:  The White Sox scored in the first inning.  Ken Berry and Luis Aparicio opened the game with singles, and an error put Chicago up 1-0 before a man was retired.  A pickoff and two fly balls ended the inning with no further damage.

The Twins did little for the first five innings, getting a few singles but never putting more than one man on base.  The White Sox added to their lead in the sixth when John singled, an error put men on first and second, and May delivered a two-out single, making the score 2-0.

The Twins took their first lead in the bottom of the sixth.  Tovar led off with a walk, and Rod Carew doubled.  With first base open, Chicago pitched to Killebrew and he came through with a three-run homer, putting the Twins up 3-2.  The White Sox put two on with two out in the seventh, but could not tie the score.  With two out in the bottom of the seventh, Kaat reached on an error and Tovar tripled, making the score 4-2.

Chicago got one back in the eighth.  With two out, May doubled and Bill Melton singled him home to cut the lead to 4-3.  In the ninth, Syd O'Brien led off with a single and was bunted to second.  But Ron Perranoski came in to retire the next two batters and preserve the victory.

WP:  Kaat (2-1).  LP:  John (0-4).  S:  Perranoski (3).

Notes:  Killebrew was at first in this game.  He mostly played third in 1970, with Rich Reese at first.  That obviously hurt the defense--was it worth it on offense?  It's hard to say.  Reese wasn't that great on offense, batting .261 but with an OPS of just .703.  On the other hand, had Killebrew played first, it would've left Rick RenickDanny Thompson, or Frank Quilici at third, all of whom would most likely have been worse at the bat than ReeseRenick, in fact, was the third baseman in this game.  The Twins won the division, so it's certainly hard to say it was a bad move to play Harmon there.

Carew missed much of the season with injuries, playing just forty-five games at second base.  Thompson and Quilici shared the second base position, and saying there was a bit of a dropoff on offense is like saying there's a bit of a dropoff when come to the edge of the Grand Canyon.  Quilici batted .227/.297/.291, for an OPS of .588.  Thompson batted .219/.234/.248 for an OPS of .482.  It's hard to believe the Twins couldn't find someone better to play second.  Or, alternatively, that they couldn't find someone to play center and move Tovar to second.  But they couldn't, or at least they didn't.

The Twins used some defensive replacements.  Quilici went to third in the eighth in place of Thompson.  Jim Holt went to left in place of Brant Alyea in the eighth.  Reese went to first in place of Killebrew in the ninth.

This early in the season, of course, you're going to have some extreme batting averages, but it's still kind of remarkable that the first six batters in the Twins lineup were batting over .300:  Tovar (.350), Carew (.359), Killebrew (.321), Tony Oliva (.359), Alyea (.444), and Renick (.333).  The only ones who would stay at .300 were Tovar, who batted exactly .300, and Carew, who batted .366 in 191 at-bats.  The Twins batted .262, which was tied for first in the league with Boston.

Killebrew led the team with 41 home runs.  Oliva was second with 23.  Alyea hit 16, George Mitterwald 15, Leo Cardenas 11, Reese 10, and Tovar 10.  The Twins hit 153 home runs, fifth in the league.  Boston led with 203.

The Twins had two excellent starters in Jim Perry (24-12, 3.02) and Kaat (14-10, 3.56).  Luis Tiant was supposed to be the third starter and he did well when he was healthy, but he could make just 17 starts (7-3, 3.40).  Bert Blyleven came up to take his place and also did quite well, going 10-9, 3.18.  Dave Boswell was supposed to be the fourth starter, but he battled injuries and was ineffective when he could pitch, going 3-7, 6.42.  His place was taken by Bill Zepp, who went 9-4, 3.22.  Tom Hall also made eleven starts and went 11-6, 2.55 (including his relief appearances, obviously).  Perranoski was the closer with 34 saves, although Stan Williams got some chances, too, notching 15 saves.  Four other pitchers had saves as well:  Hall (4), Zepp (2), Steve Barber (2), and Dick Woodson (1).  The Twins had an ERA of 3.23, second only to Baltimore at 3.15.  Their WHIP of 1.25 was fourth in the league.  The Orioles led there, too, at 1.21.

Kaat made an error in this game.  I mention that simply because, as you probably know, he won sixteen Gold Gloves in his career.  He made 65 errors in his career, but then the man played for 25 years, so it's not like that's a lot.  His career high in errors was eight, in 1969, and he still won the Gold Glove that season.

I mentioned a pickoff in the first inning.  The White Sox had men on first and third with none out when Aparicio was picked off third.  What's interesting is that the scoring on the play is pitcher to shortstop.  I don't know why the shortstop was covering third on a pickoff from the pitcher.  It seems like there must have been some sort of trick play there.

This was the third of a four-game winning streak for the Twins.  The Twins won their first four, lost two, then won their next four.

Record:  The Twins were 7-2, in first place in the American League West, percentage points ahead of California.  They would finish 98-64, in first place, nine games ahead of Oakland.

The White Sox were 4-7, in fifth place in the American League West, four games behind Minnesota.  They would finish 56-106, in sixth (last) place, 42 games behind Minnesota.

Random Record:  The Twins are 48-46 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1970, Game Seventy-five


Date:  Sunday, July 5.

Batting stars:  Harmon Killebrew was 2-for-3 with a home run (his twenty-fourth), two walks, two runs, and two RBIs.  Leo Cardenas was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and three RBIs.  Jim Holt was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.  Tony Oliva was 2-for-5.

Pitching star:  Stan Williams was perfect over 3.1 innings, retiring all ten men he faced.  He struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Duane Josephson was 2-for-4 with a triple.  Ken Berry was 1-for-3 with a walk.

The game:  The Twins took control early.  They got on the board in the second inning.  Killebrew walked, Rich Reese singled, and Paul Ratliff was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with none out.  They only scored once, on Cardenas' sacrifice fly, but the broke it open in the third.  Cesar Tovar and Holt singled, putting men on first and third with none out.  Oliva had an RBI single, a run scored on a wild pitch, and Killebrew had an RBI single.  A force out and a Ratliff single put men on first and second with one down.  Cardenas had an RBI single, and a sacrifice fly followed.  It was 6-0 Twins and it was never close again.

The Twins added some more in the fifth.  Killebrew led off with a home run.  Reese and Ratliff walked and Danny Thompson had an RBI single.  Cesar Tovar was hit by a pitch, loading the bases, and Holt delivered a two-run single to put the Twins up 10-0.

The White Sox got all of their runs in the sixth.  With one out, Walt Williams walked and Luis Aparicio doubled.  Tom McCraw drove in a run with a double, a ground out brought home a second run, and Josephson tripled in a third run, cutting the Twins' margin to 10-3.  Chicago did not get a baserunner after that, however.

The Twins added single runs in the sixth and seventh.  In the sixth Ratliff was again hit by a pitch and scored on scored on Cardenas' double.  In the seventh Tovar reached on an error, Oliva singled, and Killebrew was intentionally walked, loading the bases with two out.  Reese was then hit by a pitch (the fourth hit batsman of the game) to force in the game's final run.

WP:  Jim Kaat (7-6).  LP:  Bob Miller (3-4).  S:  Williams (7).

Notes:  Ratliff was behind the plate in place of George Mitterwald.

Holt was in left in place of Brant Alyea.  That's kind of misleading, though, because while Alyea is listed as the regular, Holt actually played a few more games in left (76 to 73).  I assume the left-handed batting Holt was somewhat platooned with the right-handed Alyea.

Herman Hill pinch-ran for Tovar in the seventh and replaced him in center field.  Frank Quilici pinch-ran for Killebrew in the seventh inning and went to second base, with Thompson moving from second to third.

Oliva was the Twins leading batter at .326.  He finished at .325.  Killebrew was batting .313.  He finished at .271.  Tovar was batting .311.  He finished at .300.

Thompson was the regular second baseman because Rod Carew missed much of the season due to injury.

Jim Kaat started for the Twins.  He pitched well for five innings, but his line was 5.2 innings, three runs, seven hits, two walks, and no strikeouts.  His ERA was 4.01.  He would finish strong, though, ending at 14-10, 3.56.

Ron Perranoski was the main closer, but Williams got his chances, too.  He had fifteen saves, going 15-for-19 in save opportunities.  He was also 10-1, 1.99, 1,03 WHIP.  That's a very good season in anyone's book.

This was the only triple of the season for Duane Josephson.  Remarkably, he hit six of them in 1968, half his career total.  That was his only year as a regular, and he made the all-star team.  I don't know how many people made he all-star team in their only year as a regular player, but I suspect the list is not very long.  He missed much of the 1969 season due to a blood clot, had to share catching chores with Ed Herrmann in 1970, and was traded to the Red Sox in spring training in 1971.  Injuries limited his playing time that season, and then some guy named Fisk came along.  Josephson was a backup in 1972, then his playing career was over.

The Bob Miller who started for the White Sox was, indeed, the Bob Miller who had pitched for the Twins in 1968-1969.  He was traded to Cleveland over the off-season in a deal that got the Twins Williams and Luis Tiant, but cost them Graig Nettles.  The Indians then shipped him on to Chicago in June.

This was the first game of a five-game winning streak for the Twins.  They had just had a five-game winning streak snapped the day before, so the Twins were in a stretch where they won ten of eleven.

Record:  The Twins were 49-26, in first place in the American League West, 4 games ahead of California.  They would finish 98-64, in first place, 9 games ahead of Oakland.

The White Sox were 28-52, in fifth place in the American League West, 23.5 games behind Minnesota.  They would finish 56-106, in sixth (last) place, 42 games behind Minnesota.


Random Rewind: 1966, Game One Hundred Thirty


Date:  Saturday, August 27.

Batting stars:  Rich Rollins was 3-for-4.  Ted Uhlaender was 2-for-3.

Pitching star:  Jim Kaat pitched a complete game shutout, giving up three hits and two walks and striking out seven.

Opposition star:  Gary Peters pitched eight innings, giving up one run on eight hits and three walks and striking out five.

The game:  Rollins hit a one-out single in the second.  With two down, Bob Allison and Uhlaender hit back-to-back singles to bring home a run and put the Twins up 1-0.

And that was the only run there was.  The only real White Sox threat came in the second, when Jerry Adair and John Romano hit consecutive one-out singles.  Jim Hicks struck out and Lee Elia popped up, and Chicago did not get another hit the rest of the game.  They did get a pair of two-out walks in the seventh, but Hicks grounded out to end the inning.  The Twins got two on in the seventh and again in the eighth, but they did not score and Kaat made sure they didn't need to.

WP:  Kaat (20-9).  LP:  Peters (11-10).  S:  None.

Notes:  Cesar Tovar was at second base.  Bernie Allen is listed as the starting second baseman, but he only played eighty-nine games there compared to Tovar's seventy-four, so it looks like the two basically shared the position.  Of course, Tovar could play pretty much anywhere on the field.

Rollins was at third base with Harmon Killebrew at first.  The normal lineup was for Don Mincher to be at first and Killebrew at third.  It looks like the Twins essentially used a platoon, with Rollins at third and Killebrew at first against left-handers and Mincher at first and Killebrew at third against right-handers.

Tony Oliva was leading the team in batting at .314.  He would end the season at .307.

Kaat would finish the season 25-13, 2.75, 1.07 WHIP.  He led the league in wins, starts (41), complete games (19), and innings (304.2).  Had there been separate AL and NL Cy Young Awards back then, he surely would've been in the running.  As it was, though, there was only one Cy Young Award, and it went to Sandy Koufax, who was 27-9, 1.73, 0.99 WHIP and had 27 complete games.

Remarkably, Kaat had only three no-decisions all year.

I wonder when the last time was someone had twenty wins before September.  Bob Welch in 1990 comes to mind, but there certainly may have been someone since then.

The Twins stranded ten men and went 1-for-9 with men in scoring position.

The Twins had nine hits and Chicago had three.  All the hits were singles.

Record:  The Twins were 69-61, in third place in the American League, fourteen games behind Baltimore.  They would finish 89-73, in second place, nine games behind Baltimore.

The White Sox were 66-64, in sixth place in the American League, seventeen games behind Baltimore.  They would finish 83-79, in fourth place, fifteen games behind Baltimore.

May 9, 1972: Random Day in Twins History

I used a random number generator to pick a season from the past with the idea that I would quickly highlight the Twins history that occurred today in that year.  The generator sent me to the year 1972.

Twins 4, Yankees 2 - BR Boxscore

The Twins improved to 13-4 on the young season (only seventeen games played at this point because it was the first year ever with games missed due to a work stoppage).  Jim Kaat kept the Yankees at bay for more than eight innings relying primarily on his fastball (he did not have the feel for a screwball he had developed during the offseason) while Phil Roof scored and drove in a run during a spot start (and was replaced by a pinch-runner who scored an additional run).  Those two, combined with some Yankee frustration, pushed the Twins to victory.
Besides Roof, Bobby Darwin was the other offensive star for the Twins with both a double and a triple hit to the opposite field.  Darwin had entered the game in a 1-for-15 slump after hitting 432/500/864 through the team's first twelve games.  Darwin told Sid Hartman, "In the past I've hit a lot of balls to right field but this spring I only hit one before tonight.  I came out early, took some extra batting practice, and I got myself straightened out."  It is unclear whether sixteen year-old Dick Bremer, sitting somewhere in Central Minnesota, took note of Darwin's approach and determined that it was the solution to every hitting slump a Twin would ever face.
Thurman Munson had a rough day for the Yankees.  In the second inning, he was picked off by Kaat while Felipe Alou was at bat.  After Munson's blunder, Alou homered.  The bottom of the seventh proved to be even more frustrating for the future Yankee captain.  With a runner on third, Munson was crossed-up on a pitch out as the Yankees thought Cesar ovar might be asked to squeeze.  Munson was able to block the pitch.  Tovar ultimately drew a walk.  On ball four, the pitch eluded Munson allowing Nettles to score and Tovar ran all the way to third base.  After the game, manager Ralph Houk attempted to cover for Munson by explaining that the catcher simply had lost track of the count and did not realize the pitch was ball four.
Veteran Yankee Horace Clarke provided a scouting report on Kaat: "His fastball velocity probably hasn't the velocity it had [in 1966], but he moves it so well that makes up for it."  Kaat, rather than crediting his fastball or screwball for the win, said, "My best pitch was the at-'em ball."  Kaat ended up pitching very effectively for the 1972 Twins with a 10-2 record and 2.06 ERA, but he broke his hand sliding into second base on July 2 and missed the remainder of the season.
On example of his at-'em ball working well occurred during the top of the eighth inning when Rusty Torres hit a ball sharply up the middle until it ricocheted off Kaat's leg to first baseman Rich Reese for the out.  The following inning, Kaat walked Munson with one out promptly manager Bill Rigney to call on Wayne Granger.  After the game, Houk was second-guessed for not pinch-hitting for Alou with Ron Blomberg, but he defended himself by explaining, "If I sent in Blomberg, Rigney would have brought in [left-handed reliever Dave] LaRoche."  Of course, Rigney could not have removed Granger until after he pitched to at least one batter, so Houk's explanation made no sense.  Granger ended up retiring both batters he faced for his fourth save (LaRoche already had five saves as Rigney mixed and matched the end of games).
Something I never knew: Granger got off to a ridiculously strong start that season.  Through June 25, Granger pitched 36.2 innings with a 0.49 ERA and a opposing slash line of 168/216/184.

Other Twins notes: Just 6,446 fans - the smallest ever to see the Yankees play in Minnesota - attended the game.  Bill Hengen of the Minneapolis Star lamented that there simply was no longer a thrill having the Yankees in town because the team was no longer "menacing or arrogant" like in the 1960s.

Kaat and Roof roomed together on the road (along with Bert Blyleven).  Kaat and Roof were such good bridge players that teammates Eric Soderholm and LaRoche never allowed the two to be partners.

Other history notes: Without venturing too much into the forbidden zone, the news on this day forty years ago was full of interesting stories for a history nerd.  For example, seventeen people were arrested during a protest in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood against both Vietnam and "urban renewal."  Also, the Duluth Board of Education announced it was dropping its plans to desegregate the school district that fall because of public pressure.  Five different schools in Duluth failed to comply with state guidelines for integration, and the abandoned plan would have required busing 900 more children than the status quo.  Sometimes it is hard to believe that school desegregation was an issue a) in Minnesota, and b) eighteen years after Brown v. Board of Education.

Along the same lines, reigning NFL MVP Alan Page was frustrated that he had not received a single endorsement offer during the offseason.  Quarterback Fran Tarkenton, on the other hand, received an offer "just seven minutes after the season" (whatever that means).  The Minneapolis Star worried that Page was being harmed because of his race.