MINNESOTA 9, DETROIT 6 IN DETROIT
Date: Thursday, May 7.
Batting stars: Harmon Killebrew was 3-for-4 with a three-run homer, his eighth. Tony Oliva was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his fifth), a walk, a stolen base, and three runs. Rod Carew was 2-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, a stolen base (his second), and two runs. Rich Reese was 2-for-4 with a walk.
Pitching stars: None.
Opposition stars: Willie Horton was 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs. Dick McAuliffe was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Bill Freehan was 1-for-4 with a home run, his third.
The game: Cesar Tovar led off the game with a single and Oliva hit a two-run homer to give the Twins the early lead. In the second, singles by Jim Holt and Paul Ratliff were followed by an RBI ground out to make it 3-0. In the fourth Oliva reached on a fielder's choice, went to second on a Killebrew single, and scored on Reese's single to make it 4-0. In the seventh, walks to Carew and Oliva were followed by Killebrew's three-run homer to increase the lead to 7-0.
Meanwhile, Twins starter Jim Perry had allowed just one hit over six innings. Why then, you ask, is he not listed as a "pitching star"? Well, in the seventh, McAuliffe led of with a walk and Dalton Jones singled. With one out, Norm Cash got the Tigers on the board with an RBI double. Horton then followed with a two-run triple, cutting the lead to 7-3. Ron Perranoski then came into the game, but Horton scored on an error, dropping the lead to 7-4.
The Twins bounced back with a two-out rally in the eighth. Tovar walked and scored on a Carew double. Oliva singled, moving Carew to third, and the two of them then pulled off a double steal of second and home to make the score 9-4.
Detroit did not quit. In the bottom of the eighth McAuliffe singled and Al Kaline reached on an error, putting men on first and second with two out. Mickey Stanley delivered an RBI single to make it 9-5. Horton singled to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate, but Jim Northrup grounded out to end the threat. Freehan hit a home run in the ninth to round out the scoring, but the Tigers did not get the tying run to bat again.
WP: Perry (5-1).
LP: Joe Niekro (3-2).
S: Perranoski (8).
Notes: Holt was in left in place of Brant Alyea. Ratliff was behind the plate in place of George Mitterwald. Mitterwald pinch-hit for Ratliff in the fifth and went behind the plate. Frank Quilici replaced Killebrew at third base in the seventh.
Carew was batting .362. Oliva was batting .354. Killebrew was batting .337. Tovar was 1-for-3 and was batting .303. Perry allowed four runs (three earned) in 6.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.50. Perranoski allowed two runs (one earned) in 2.2 innings and had an ERA of 1.74.
Holt was 1-for-5 and was batting .190. Mitterwald was 0-for-3 and was batting .194.
Future Twin Niekro lasted just 2.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and no walks and striking out four. He was not the knuckleballing Joe Niekro at this stage of his career, but was more a conventional pitcher.
Perranoski had now pitched nine innings in the last seven games, appearing in five of them.
Carew was back, having missed two weeks and thirteen games. His batting picked up right where it left off.
I don't know if McAuliffe quite qualifies as a "Twins killer", but in 1970 he batted .295/.415/.455 against them. That's pretty good, especially when for the season he batted .234/.358/.345. The only team against who he did better in 1970 was Milwaukee--.297/.422/.486. For his career he batted ,267/.348/.453 against the Twins with 23 home runs. I remember McAuliffe as primarily a singles hitter, but my memory is faulty. He hit double figure home runs in ten consecutive seasons and hit over twenty three times, with a high of twenty-four in 1964. He finished with 197 home runs.
The Twins had now taken two of three from Baltimore and two of three from Detroit on their eastern trip. They next travel to Cleveland for the last leg of their journey.
Record: The Twins were 16-8, in first place in the American League West, a half game ahead of California.