Tag Archives: Kevin Tapani

Random Rewind: 1993, Game One Hundred Fifty-two

MINNESOTA 5, NEW YORK 2 IN NEW YORK

Date:  Wednesday, September 22.

Batting starsDave 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.

Random Rewind: 1990, Game One Hundred Fifty-two

TEXAS 2, MINNESOTA 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, September 21.

Batting star:  Pedro Munoz was 1-for-3.

Pitching stars:  Kevin Tapani pitched five innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out two.  Juan Berenguer pitched four innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out three.

Opposition stars:  Bobby Witt pitched a complete game, giving up one run on two hits and four walks and striking out eight.  Jack Daugherty was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.  Rafael Palmeiro was 2-for-4.  Ruben Sierra was 2-for-4.

The game:  The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the second.  Brian Harper and Paul Sorrento drew two-out walks and Munoz had an RBI single.  The Twins left the bases loaded, however, and it would cost them, as they never got a man into scoring position again.

In the fourth, singles by Julio Franco, Palmeiro, and Daugherty tied the score 1-1.  In the sixth, singles by Palmeiro, Sierra, and Daugherty put the Rangers ahead 2-1.

The Twins only had two hits in the game, Munoz' RBI single and a sixth-inning single by Kent Hrbek.

WP:  Witt (17-9).  LP:  Berenguer (8-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Al Newman was at shortstop in place of Greg Gagne.  Newman's primary position in 1990 was second base, but Nelson Liriano played second in this game.  Second base was pretty much a blank space in 1990, with NewmanLiriano, and Fred Manrique trying their best but failing to fill the position.  In 1991, of course, Chuck Knoblauch would solve this problem.

Munoz was in right field.  Shane Mack, who played all over the outfield in 1990, was in center, and Kirby Puckett, who of course was normally in center, played left.  The Twins really didn't have a regular right fielder in 1990.  Johnny Moses played the most games there, with fifty-two.  Mack had fifty-one, Gene Larkin forty-seven, Randy Bush thirty-one, Carmelo Castillo twenty, and Munoz nineteen.  Puckett played nine games there, and Jim Dwyer was out there for one.

Sorrento was the DH in this game.  That's another position at which the Twins did not have a regular.  Larkin was there for forty-three games, Castillo thirty-five, Bush twenty-seven, Sorrenty twenty-three, Dwyer twenty-two, Hrbek twenty, Harper eleven, and Moses ten, with eight other players serving in the role for single digits.

Bush pinch-hit for Mack in the eighth.  He remained in the game in right field, with Munoz moving to left and Puckett coming out of the game.

Mack was leading the team in batting at .318.  He would finish at .326.  No one else was over .300, although Puckett and Harper were in the .290s.

On the other end of the scale, Sorrento was batting .190.  He would finish at .207 in 135 plate appearances.

I don't know why Tapani only pitched five innings and threw just seventy-six pitches.  He was coming off three poor outings in a row, so possibly Tom Kelly decided to take the five good innings and not push any farther.  I also don't know why Berenguer pitched four innings.  The bullpen was not overtaxed, and there'd have been September call-ups anyway.  It was not as uncommon for relievers to go multiple innings back then, so maybe Kelly just saw no reason to take him out as long as he was pitching well.  The fact that this was a meaningless game in a lost season may have had to do with both decisions, also.

This was Bobby Witt's best season:  17-10, 3.36.  For his career he was not all that good--142-157, 4.83, 1.57 WHIP--but he was good in 1990.  I remembered him as a Twins killer, and I was right.  For his career he was 17-7, 3.63 against our boys.

Record:  The Twins were 68-84, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, twenty-nine games behind Oakland.  The would finish 74-88, in seventh place, twenty-nine games behind Oakland.

The Rangers were 80-70, in third place in the American League West, sixteen games behind Oakland.  They would finish 83-79, in third place, twenty games behind Oakland.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Forty-five

MINNESOTA 9, KANSAS CITY 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Monday, September 16.

Batting star:  Brian Harper was 2-for-3 with a three-run homer (his tenth) and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Kevin Tapani pitched 7.1 scoreless innings, giving up three hits and two walks and striking out seven.  Paul Abbott struck out three in 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a walk.

Opposition stars:  Bill Pecota was 2-for-4.  Storm Davis struck out three in three innings of relief, giving up one run on three hits.

The game:  Singles by Dan Gladden and Chuck Knoblauch put men on first and third with none out.  Gladden scored on a sacrifice fly.  Knoblauch then went to third on a stolen base-plus-error and scored on a ground out, making it 2-0 Twins.  In the fourth, Kent Hrbek and Chili Davis started the inning with back-to-back doubles.  Harper singled and Shane Mack was hit by a pitch, loading the bases.  A pair of sacrifice flies made it 5-0.

Meanwhile, the Royals did not get a hit for the first four innings.  They got a pair of singles in the fifth, but nothing came of it.  The Twins put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fifth when Hrbek and Davis walked and Harper followed with a three-run homer, making it 8-0.  In the eighth, Lenny Webster doubled and Mike Pagliarulo singled to bring the final to 9-0.

WP:  Tapani (15-8).  LP:  Mark Gubicza (8-10).  S:  None.

Notes:  The box score looks like a spring training game, with Pagliarulo the only Twin to play the whole game.  Sadly, with the roster restrictions, we won't see this any more.  Scott Leius pinch-hit for Greg Gagne in the sixth and stayed in the game at shortstop.  Paul Sorrento replaced Kent Hrbek at first base in the seventh.  Al Newman replaced Knoblauch at second base in the seventh.  Pedro Munoz replaced Gladden in left field in the seventh.  Gene Larkin replaced Mack in right field in the seventh.  Jarvis Brown replaced Kirby Puckett in center in the eighth.  Lenny Webster replaced Harper at catcher in the eighth.  Randy Bush pinch-hit for Davis in the eighth.

Puckett was 0-for-3 and was batting .324.  Harper raised his average to .314.  Mack was 1-for-2 to make his average .313.  Webster was 1-for-1 and was batting .409.  Tapani lowered his ERA to 2.83.

Sorrento was 0-for-1 and was batting .167.

Tapani's game score of 77 was his second-highest of the year.  It was topped only by an 82 in a complete game shutout on April 12, his first start of the season.

The White Sox did not play, so the Twins gained a half-game.

Record:  The Twins were 87-58, in first place in the American League West, eight games ahead of Chicago.

In the East, Toronto lost to Seattle 6-5 but Boston lost to Baltimore 9-2, so the Blue Jays' lead remained 3.5 games.

Happy Birthday–February 18

Ray Ryan (1883)
George Mogridge (1889)
Sherry Smith (1891)
Jake Kline (1895)
Huck Betts (1897)
Joe Gordon (1915)
Herm Wehmeier (1927)
Frank House (1930)
Manny Mota (1938)
Dal Maxvill (1939)
Bob Miller (1939)
Jerry Morales (1949)
John Mayberry (1949)
Bruce Kison (1950)
Marc Hill (1952)
Rafael Ramirez (1958)
Kevin Tapani (1964)
John Valentin (1967)
Shawn Estes (1973)
Jamey Carroll (1974)
Chad Moeller (1975)
Alex Rios (1981)

Ray Ryan was involved in minor league baseball for six decades.  He had one baseball card, a part of the T206 tobacco series.  This is the series that produced the famous Honus Wagner card.

Jake Kline was the baseball coach at Notre Dame from 1934-1975.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–February 18

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-one

MINNESOTA 5, BALTIMORE 2 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, August 31.

Batting stars:  Chili Davis was 2-for-2 with a double and two walks.  Shane Mack was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4.  Chuck Knoblauch was 1-for-3 with a home run.

Pitching stars:  Kevin Tapani pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks and striking out two.  Rick Aguilera retired all four men he faced, striking out one.

Opposition star:  Cal Ripken was 2-for-4 with a double.

The game:  Davis led off the second with a walk, went to third on a Brian Harper single, and scored on a ground out to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  In the fourth, Ripken led off with a double.  He went to third on a balk and scored on a ground out to tie it 1-1.

Knoblauch homered with one out in the sixth to put the Twins up 2-1.  The then took a commanding lead in the seventh.  Mack led off with a double and was bunted to third.  Gene Larkin then delivered a run-scoring single, Dan Gladden followed with an RBI triple, and a ground out brought home one more run to make it 5-1 Minnesota.

The Orioles threatened to get back in the game in the eighth.  Dwight Evans led off with a double and Joe Orsulak drew a one-out walk.  With two-out, Glenn Davis hit an RBI single to cut the lead to 5-2.  Milligan then walked, loading the bases and bringing the go-ahead run up to bat.  But Chito Martinez flied to center, ending the inning.  Baltimore went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Tapani (13-7).  LP:  Mike Mussina (2-4).  S:  Aguilera (36).

Notes:  The Twins used a standard lineup but made use of most of their bench.  Larkin pinch-hit for Greg Gagne in the seventh.  Al Newman then ran for Larkin and stayed in the game at second base.  He did that because Randy Bush pinch-hit for Knoblauch.  Scott Leius then replaced Bush on defense and played shortstop.

Puckett raised his average to .327.  Brian Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .316.  Mack raised his average to .305.  Mike Pagliarulo was 1-for-3 and was batting .304.  Tapani lowered his ERA to 2.89.  Aguilera's ERA went down to 2.35.

This was Knoblauch's first career home run and his only home run in 1991.  He would eventually develop moderate power, hitting 98 home runs in his career with a high of 18 in 1999.

Tapani had allowed just four earned runs in his last three starts (23 innings).

Remember that Mack had hit .143 in April?  He had an awesome second half.  In August, which we've just completed, he batted .343/.387/.637.  His July was even a little better:  .366/.435/.622.  He would not quite match those numbers in September, but he still batted .326/.363/.453.  For the second half of the season, he batted .356/.405/.595.  He hit 19 doubles, 7 triples, and 10 home runs in the second half.

It was a rare thing when the Twins beat Mussina.  For his career, Mussina was 22-6, 3.09, 1.17 WHIP against the Twins.  That's the most wins he had against any team other than Toronto and the best winning percentage against any American League team.  It was the third-lowest ERA he had against any American League team.  His career ERA was 3.68 and his career WHIP was 1.19.

Oakland defeated Detroit 7-6 in ten innings, so the margin between the two teams remained the same.

Record:  The Twins were 78-53, in first place in the American League West, seven games ahead of Oakland.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twelve

MINNESOTA 5, SEATTLE 2 IN SEATTLE

Date:  Sunday, August 11.

Batting stars:  Kent Hrbek was 3-for-4 with a home run (his twelfth), two runs, and three RBIs.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4.  Shane Mack was 1-for-3 with a home run (his fourteenth) and a walk.

Pitching star:  Kevin Tapani pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk and striking out three.  He threw just 91 pitches.

Opposition stars:  Jay Buhner was 1-for-3 with a home run, his twenty-first.

The game:  Mack homered with two out in the first inning to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  In the second Hrbek led off with a single, went to second on a wild pitch, was bunted to third, and scored on a ground out to make it 2-0.  In the fourth, Gene Larkin doubled and scored on Hrbek's single to make it 3-0.

The Mariners got on the board in the bottom of the fourth.  Edgar Martinez led off with a single and went to second when Harold Reynolds walked.  A ground out moved the runners up and a sacrifice fly cut the Twins' lead to 3-1.  It went to 3-2 when Buhner homered leading off the fifth, but the Twins got the run back with interest in the sixth when a walk to Larkin was followed by Hrbek's two-run homer.

The score was 5-2, and there it stayed.  Seattle got just one baserunner after that, a two-out single by Omar Vizquel in the eighth.

WP:  Tapani (10-7).  LP:  Bill Krueger (9-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Larkin was the designated hitter, replacing Chili Davis.  That caused Mack to go into the third spot in the batting order, with Puckett moving down to fourth.  Greg Gagne returned to the lineup at shortstop.

Puckett was batting .329.  Brian Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .311.  Tapani lowered his ERA to 2.98.

With Hrbek on second and none out in the second inning, Scott Leius bunted, moving Hrbek to third.  He scored on a ground out, making the score 2-0.  I wonder if Leius bunted on his own, trying to get a hit.  It seems strange to just want to move Hrbek to third with one out, especially with Gagne as the next batter.

I doubt that, at the start of the season, very many people would've expected Mack to have more home runs than Hrbek.  It's remarkable, as I go through these games, how few times Hrbek has been one of the offensive stars.  He was still a solid player, and a steady contributor.  He batted .284/.373/.461 with 20 homers, and you'll certainly take that.  I'm surprised that he didn't have much of a platoon split.  Memory had told me that he really struggled with lefties, but he didn't in 1991--he batted .281/.352/.445 against them.  He was even better against righties, of course--.284/.380/.467.  Tom Kelly often dropped Hrbek to seventh in the lineup against left-handers, which is probably why I assumed there was a big platoon split.  But there really wasn't.

Tapani had now won five straight games.  He wasn't pitching all that much better than he had earlier--his ERA only fell from 3.16 to 2.98.  The Twins just started scoring some runs for him.

The White Sox kept pace with the Twins, defeating Baltimore 7-0.

Record:  The Twins were 67-45, in first place in the American League West, one game ahead of Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Seven

MINNESOTA 7, CALIFORNIA 4 IN CALIFORNIA

Date:  Monday, August 5.

Batting stars:  Dan Gladden was 3-for-5 with a stolen base (his eighth) and two runs.  Randy Bush was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Kevin Tapani pitched 8.2 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and no walks and striking out six.  He threw 125 pitches.

Opposition stars:  Dave Winfield was 2-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-first) and a stolen base, his third.  Gary Gaetti was 1-for-4 with a home run, his thirteenth.  Chris Beasley pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out two.

The game:  One could say the Twins got off to a good start.  Gladden led off with a single.  Chuck Knoblauch walked.  Kent Hrbek had an RBI single.  Chili Davis walked, loading the bases.  Brian Harper hit a two-run double.  Bush hit a two-run double.  Six batters in, the Twins led 5-0 and there were no outs.  That was all the runs the Twins would need.

It wasn't the end of the game, of course.  The Angels got a run in the first on two singles and a double play.  Gaetti homered leading off the second to make it 5-2.  It stayed 5-2 until the sixth, when Winfield homered to cut the margin to 5-3.

The Twins had done very little of offense since the first.  In the seventh, however, Greg Gagne reached on an error, stole second, and scored on Gladden's single.  Gladden then stole second and scored on a two-out double by Davis to put the Twins' lead back up to four runs at 7-3.

California did not give up.  Dave Parker hit a one-out double in the ninth.  With two out Lance Parris doubled to make it 7-4.  Rick Aguilera then came in to retire Dave Gallagher on a line out to end the game.

WP:  Tapani (9-7).  LP:  Joe Grahe (1-2).  S:  Aguilera (29).

Notes:  Kirby Puckett got a rare day off.  Shane Mack was in center, with Bush in right.

Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .314.  Tapani's ERA went to 3.03.  Aguilera dropped his ERA to 2.63.

This was the highest number of pitches (125) that Tapani would throw in a game all year.  He went over 100 pitches in 19 of his 34 starts, including his first five starts of the season and his last six starts of the season.  In eight of those starts he went over 110 pitches.  This was the only time he went over 120.  1991 was his career high for innings as well, with 244.

On the other hand, Aguilera threw one pitch.

Grahe, the Angels' starter, pitched seven innings.  He allowed seven runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks and struck out one.  It should be noted that he pitched very well after the first inning.  He had done very little up to this point in his career, but he would go on to have two pretty good years (1992-1993) pitching out of the California bullpen.  He had 21 saves for the Angels in 1992, when he was filling in for Bryan Harvey.  He battled injuries starting in 1994 and was out of baseball for three years.  He came back to pitch in thirteen games for Philadelphia in 1998 before ending his career.

The White Sox were idle, so the Twins gained a half game.

Record:  The Twins were 64-43, in first place in the American League West, 3.5 games ahead of Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game Ninety-three

MINNESOTA 14, BOSTON 1 IN BOSTON

Date:  Sunday, July 21.

Batting stars:  Shane Mack was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, and two runs.  Chili Davis was 3-for-5 with a double and a stolen base, his third.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.  Scott Leius was 2-for-5 with a double, a walk, and three runs.  Brian Harper was 2-for-6 with two runs.  Chuck Knoblauch was 1-for-3 with three walks and three runs.

Pitching stars:  Kevin Tapani pitched six innings, giving up an unearned run on three hits and no walks and striking out none.  Paul Abbott struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up two hits.  Allan Anderson pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition star:  Steve Lyons was 2-for-3 with a double.

The game:  Leius led off the game with a single, followed by singles by Knoblauch and Puckett to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  An RBI ground out made it 2-0.  In the third Knoblauch walked and went to third on Davis' two-out single.  Davis then stole second.  A passed ball scored one run, a Harper single scored another, and a Mack double made it 5-0.  in the fourth, Greg Gagne hit a one-out double, walks to Leius and Knoblauch filled the bases, and Puckett's two-run single made it 7-0.

The Red Sox got on the board in the bottom of the seventh.  Jody Reed reached on an error and scored on a Jack Clark double.  That was the end of their good news, though.  The Twins scored five in the sixth and two more in the seventh to get the 14-1 victory.

WP:  Tapani (6-7).  LP:  Tom Bolton (7-7).  S:  None.

NotesMack was again in left field in the absence of Dan Gladden.  Gene Larkin was in right.  Leius was the leadoff batter.

Jarvis Brown pinch-ran for Puckett in the fifth and stayed in the game in center field.  Al Newman went into the game at shortstop in the fifth, replacing Gagne.  Randy Bush went into the game in the sixth inning at first base, replacing Kent Hrbek.  Davis went to left field in the eighth inning, with Abbott entering the lineup in Mack's spot.

Puckett raised his average to .328.  Harper went up to .325.  Tapani lowered his ERA to 3.03.  Abbott went down to 3.31.

Tapani hadn't gotten much run support up to this point in the season, but that turned around in this game.  Including this game, he won five starts in a row and went 9-0 over ten starts.  In those games, the Twins scored 71 runs.  Tapani was still pitching well--he did not give up more than four runs in any of those starts, and six times gave up fewer than three.

This was Davis' first appearance in the field all season.  He would make just one more, about a month later.  He would, of course, play one game in the field in the World Series.  He had been a regular outfielder from 1982-1989 and had played a substantial number of games in the outfield in 1990, but would make only token appearances there after that and none from 1995-1999, when his career ended.

Boston starter Bolton pitched just 2.2 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks and striking out one.  He had pitched five innings of relief just three days earlier.  He really couldn't be expected to pitch well after that, and he didn't.

Tapani pitched six innings and neither struck out nor walked anyone.  I don't know how rare that is, but it is at least unusual.  I suspect it might have been more common years ago than it is now, but I don't think it was all that common in the old days, either.

The White Sox lost and Texas won, so the Twins gained a game in the standings while the Rangers tied Chicago for second place.  The Twins had won four in a row, five of six, and eight of ten.

Record:  The Twins were 55-38, in first place in the American League West, 5.5 games ahead of Texas and Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game Seventy-three

TORONTO 1, MINNESOTA 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, June 27.

Batting stars:  None.  The Twins had three hits, all singles, and no Twin had more than one.

Pitching star:  Kevin Tapani pitched a complete game, giving up one unearned run on four hits and no walks and striking out seven.

Opposition stars:  Juan Guzman pitched 7.2 scoreless innings, giving up three hits and two walks and striking out six.  Tom Henke struck out two in a perfect inning.

The game:  Neither team got a men past first base until the fourth.  Roberto Alomar led off with a single.  A forceout meant the runner on first was Kelly Gruber with two out.  Rance Mulliniks then hit a line drive to left on which Shane Mack was charged with an error, allowing Gruber to score.

That was the only run of the game.  The only time the Twins got a man past first was in the eighth, when Chuck Knoblauch walked and stole second.  Duane Ward came in and got Mack on a ground out to end the inning.

WP:  Guzman (2-2).  LP:  Tapani (5-7).  S:  Henke (14).

Notes:  In a day game, Mack was in left field, with Dan Gladden on the bench.  Mack batted second, with Knoblauch moving up to the leadoff spot.  Randy Bush was at first base in place of Kent Hrbek.  Pedro Munoz was in right field.  Junior Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.  Al Newman was at shortstop in place of Greg Gagne.

Kirby Puckett was 0-for-4 and dropped to .319.  Tapani's ERA fell to 3.06.

Bush went 0-for-4 and dropped to .197.  Newman was 0-for-3 and fell to .196.

It remains amazing to me how much Newman was playing when he wasn't hitting.  This was the fifty-fifth game he had appeared in.  He had started twenty-five of them.  His OBP at this point was .281 and his slugging average was .215, giving him a robust OPS of .496.  I know he was popular, and I know he could play a lot of positions.  But that's a lot of playing time for a guy who has a sub-.500 OPS.

By game scores, this was the best game Tapani pitched in 1991.  The next best was his first game of the season, a complete game shutout on April 12.  He would not lose another game for over two months, as his next loss would come on September 11.  He really didn't pitch all that much better--his ERA over his winning streak fell only from 3.06 to 2.82.  The Twins just started scoring some runs for him.

This was Juan Guzman's rookie year, and he was very good.  He did not come up until June--this was his fourth start--but he ended up 10-3, 2.99, 1.18 WHIP.  He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to--spoiler alert--Chuck Knoblauch.  He was even better in 1992, when he made his only all-star team.  His ERA went up by over a run in 1993, to 3.99, but he went 14-3 and so got the only Cy Young support of his career.  He then had two very poor years--I suspect he had injuries, but I don't remember and couldn't quickly find out.  But he came back in 1996 to lead the league in ERA, WHIP, and hits per nine innings.  That was his last really good year.  He continued to pitch in the majors through 2000 and was not terrible, but was pretty average.  He did pitch well for Cincinnati in twelve starts in 1999 after being traded at the July deadline.  For his career, he was 91-79, 4.08, 1.37 WHIP in 240 games, all starts.  For a few years, though, he was one of the top pitchers in the league.

Record:  The Twins were 44-29, in first place in the American League West, three games ahead of California.

1991 Rewind: Game Forty-three

KANSAS CITY 5, MINNESOTA 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Sunday, May 26.

Batting stars:  Gene Larkin was 2-for-4.  Chili Davis was 2-for-4.  Chuck Knoblauch was 1-for-3 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Carl Willis pitched three shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.  Steve Bedrosian pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk.  Rick Aguilera pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Bret Saberhagen pitched a complete game, giving up one run on eight hits and two walks and striking out two.  Brian McRae was 3-for-5 with a home run (his fourth), a stolen base (his fourth), two runs and two RBIs.  Brent Mayne was 2-for-4.  George Brett was 2-for-4.  Kirk Gibson was 2-for-5 with a double.

The game:  The Royals jumped on Twins starter Kevin Tapani for three runs in the first inning.  They got the first two of them before anyone was retired:  McRae singled, Gibson had an RBI double, Brett singled, and Danny Tartabull had an RBI single.  Following a pop up, Mayne singled home the third run of the inning.  Kansas City added another run in the second when McRae led off the inning with a homer to make the score 4-0.  They got their final run in the fourth when Terry Shumpert doubled and scored on McRae's single.

Meanwhile, the Twins were not doing much of anything off Saberhagen.  They got a man to second base in the third, when Knoblauch and Shane Mack drew two-out walks.  They did it again in the seventh when Davis reached on an error and Larkin had a two-out single.  They actually got two hits in the same inning in the eighth, when Knoblauch singled with one out and Kirby Puckett singled with two out.

The Twins did get on the board in the ninth, when they opened the inning with consecutive singles by DavisBrian Harper, and Larkin.  Another hit would've brought the tying run to the plate, but instead a strikeout and a double play ended the game.

WP:  Saberhagen (5-3).  LP:  Tapani (2-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  With a day game, Mack was in left, replacing Dan Gladden.  He batted second, with Knoblauch moving up to the leadoff spot.  Larkin was in right field.  Al Newman was at short, replacing Greg Gagne.

Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .368.  Puckett was 1-for-4 and was batting .326.  Davis raised his average to .313.

Tapani lasted just four innings, giving up five runs on nine hits and a walk and striking out one.  It was his first really bad game of the season, but he hadn't been pitching as well lately.  His ERA went up steadily from 2.10 on April 27 to now 3.79.

The Twins bullpen did really well.  Five shutout innings, giving up two hits and a walk.  Much of that was Willis, as set forth above.  His ERA was now 3.48.  Aguilera's ERA went to 1.69.

George Brett was off to a very slow start, and in fact would not have a particularly good year.  He had won the batting title in 1990, batting .329.  At this point in 1991, however, he was batting just .224.  He would end the season at .255 with an OPS of .729.  Well, he was thirty-eight.  He would play for two more seasons at about the same level of production, then retire at age forty.  He was mostly a DH at this point, with Bill Pecota having taken over at third base.  Pecota would bat .286 with an OPS of .756--I don't know how this compared to his PECOTA projection.

This was an odd-numbered year, so naturally Saberhagen was having a good season.  Actually, when you look at the stats, the odd-even thing is not nearly as pronounced as legend has made it out to be.  It shows up in his won-lost record more than anywhere else, indicating that it may have been a function of luck as much as anything.  It's true that, throughout most of his career, his ERA was lower in odd-numbered years than in even, but most of the time the difference is not all that great.  It made for a good story, though.

The Twins had now lost six of seven and eight of eleven.  One suspects people were saying "same old Twins".

Record:  The Twins were 20-23, sixth in the American League West, 6.5 games behind Texas.  They remained a half game behind fifth-place Chicago.  They were one game ahead of last-place Kansas City.