MINNESOTA 5, NEW YORK 2 IN NEW YORK
Date: Wednesday, September 22.
Batting stars: Dave Winfield was 3-for-4 with two doubles. Pedro Munoz was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his thirteenth. Kent Hrbek was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twenty-second.
Pitching stars: Kevin Tapani pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and no walks and striking out five. Carl Willis pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit. Rick Aguilera pitched a scoreless inning.
Opposition stars: Randy Velarde was 2-for-3. Mike Gallego was 1-for-3 with a home run, his tenth.
The game: The Twins did almost all of their damage in the second inning. Hrbek led off the inning with a home run. Winfield doubled, Brian Harper singled, and Munoz hit a three-run homer, putting the Twins ahead 4-0.
The Yankees had only two hits through the first four innings. They got on the board in the fifth when Bernie Williams doubled and Velarde singled. It stayed 4-1 until the eighth. In the top of the inning Chuck Knoblauch walked, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Kirby Puckett's single. Gallego homered leading off the bottom of the eighth to make it 5-2. New York got one man on in the ninth but did not bring the tying run to the plate.
WP: Tapani (10-15). LP: Scott Kamieniecki (9-7). S: Aguilera (32).
Notes: Scott Stahoviak was at third base. I had completely forgotten that Stahoviak came up as a third baseman. He played 19 games there in 1993 and 22 in 1995 before moving to first base. Terry Jorgensen and Jeff Reboulet also saw significant time at third. Mike Pagliarulo had been the regular third baseman, but he was traded to Baltimore in mid-August.
David McCarty was in right field. The person who actually got the most games in right field was Puckett, with 47, but he also had the most games in center with 95. Shane Mack played center when Puckett did not and usually played left when Puckett did. Munoz had the next highest number of games in right field with 41. McCarty had 34, Winfield had 31, and Gene Larkin had 25. Munoz moved to left for this game, which he often did when someone else was in right.
Harper was the lone Twin over .300, at .305. He would finish at .304. Chip Hale, who did not play in this game, batted .333 in 186 at-bats.
Stahoviak was batting .175 after this game. He would finish at .193. It was his rookie season at age 23. I'd forgotten that he actually had a fine year in 1996--.284/.376/.469 with 13 homers and 30 doubles. If he'd been able to stay near that level, he'd have been a good player. Unfortunately, the next season he batted .229 and he played in only nine big-league games after that.
Tapani pitched well in this game but did not have a good year, going 12-15, 4.43. Maybe it's because of his fine 1991 season, when he was instrumental in the World Championship, but Tapani really does not appear to have been as good as I remember him. He wasn't awful, but his career numbers--143-125, 4.35, 1.31 WHIP--are really pretty average. He was really good in 1991, though.
This was the second game of a stretch in which the Twins would win eight out of nine.
Record: The Twins were 64-88, in sixth place in the American League West, 22.5 games behind Chicago. They would finish 71-91, tied for fifth with California, 23 games behind Chicago.
The Yankees were 83-70, in second place, 5 games behind Toronto. With only nine games left, the loss to the lowly Twins really hurt them. They would finish 88-74, in second place, 7 games behind Toronto.