Batting stars: Torii Hunter was 2-for-3 with two walks. Luis Rivas was 1-for-3 with a home run, a hit-by-pitch, and two runs.
Pitching star: Mike Fetters pitched two shutout innings, allowing only a hit batsman.
Opposition stars: Runelvys Hernandez pitched 6.2 innings, giving up one run on three hits and six walks and striking out three. Angel Berroa was 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch. Carlos Febles was 2-for-3. Raul Ibanez was 2-for-4 with a double. Joe Randa was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his fourth.
The game: The Twins drew three walks in the second inning but left the bases loaded. The Royals scored all their runs in the third. Febles singled with one out, Tucker walked, and Randa hit a three-run homer. It did not kill the rally, as Mike Sweeney drew a two-out walk and scored from first on a double by Ibanez. Kansas City led 4-0.
The Twins got on the board in the fifth when Rivas led off with a home run. They drew a pair of two-out walks in the inning, but could do nothing with them. The Twins had men on first and second with two out in the seventh, but again failed to score.
The Twins tried to come back in the ninth. Rivas was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Jacque Jones walked. A pair of ground outs made the score 4-2 and put a man on third. Corey Koskie walked and Hunter singled. That cut the margin to 4-3, put the tying run on third, and put the go-ahead run on first. The comeback was not to be, however, as Doug Mientkiewicz struck out to end the game.
Notes: Bobby Kielty was in right field. There were no substitutions in the lineup.
Kielty was 0-for-2 with three walks and was batting .340. Jones was 0-for-4 with a walk and was batting .315.
Rogers pitched six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and four walks and striking out two.
Fetters kept his ERA at zero.
Rivas hit thirty-four home runs in his career. That's not a lot, obviously, but it's more than I would've guessed. He hit eight in 2003. His career high was ten, in 2004.
As you can see above, the Twins left a lot of men on base. They stranded twelve and went just 1-for-12 with men in scoring position.
Runelvys Hernandez was off to an awesome start in 2003. At this point, after five starts, he had pitched 32.2 innings and had an ERA of 1.10. For the month of April he was 4-0, 1.36. His season fell apart after that. He was 0-3, 5.89 in May; missed the month of June, was 1-1, 5.40 in July, and was 2-1, 10.57 in August. As it turned out, he needed Tommy John surgery and was never a good pitcher again. He missed all of 2004, was 8-14, 5.52 in 2005, and was 6-10, 6.48 in 2006. He spent time in the Boston, Yankee, and Pittsburgh organizations in 2007. He made four starts for Houston in 2008, going 0-3, 8.38. He pitched in Korea in 2009, in Mexico in 2010, and played winter ball through 2013. It's hard to know just how good he might have been if he hadn't been injured. He signed with the Royals in December of 1997, but b-r.com doesn't have minor league stats for him until 2001. Presumably he was in foreign rookie leagues, like the Dominican Summer League, until then. By 2001 he was twenty-three. He pitched well in Class A that season and did well in AA as a twenty-four year old in 2002, but if he's got anything at all to recommend him he should do well at that level at that age. My guess is that the one hot month he had was just that, a hot month, but we'll never know. He did at least have the one hot month, though, which is one more than a lot of guys get.
The Twins had now lost five in a row. There would be a rainout the next day, shortening this to a two-game series, so a loss in the next game would make the seventh consecutive series sweep the Twins had been involved in from the start of the season.
Record: The Twins were 9-11, in third place in the American League Central, seven games behind Kansas City.
Batting stars: Cristian Guzman was 2-for-3 with a triple and two walks. Matthew LeCroy was 2-for-3 with a walk. Torii Hunter was 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs. Luis Rivas was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs. Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-4 with a double.
Pitching stars: Kyle Lohse struck out eight in 6.1 innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks. J. C. Romero pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk. Eddie Guardado struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.
Opposition stars: Carlos Pena was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, a walk, and two runs. Dmitri Young was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.
The game: Hunter homered leading off the second to put the Twins up 1-0. They put two on with two out in the third but did not score. It cost them, as the Tigers took the lead in the fourth. With one out, Ramon Santiago doubled and Pena hit a two-run homer, giving Detroit a 2-1 lead.
The Twins tied it in the fifth. Rivas singled with one out in the first and Guzman hit a two-out triple. The Twins went into the lead to stay in the sixth. They opened the inning with singles by Hunter, Mientkiewicz, and LeCroy to take a 3-2 advantage. With two out, Rivas hit an RBI double and Jacque Jones delivered a two-run single, making the score 6-2.
The Tigers did not go away quietly. Pena walked and Young reached on an error to start the seventh. With one out, Eric Munson hit a two-run double to cut the lead to 6-4 and bring the tying run to the plate. LaTroy Hawkins came in to retire the next two batters and end the inning. Detroit still wasn't done. Young led off the ninth with a double and Shane Halter hit a two-out single, bringing the go-ahead run to bat. But Craig Paquette flied out and the Twins won.
WP: Lohse (2-1). LP: Mike Maroth (0-4). S: Guardado (5).
Notes: Michael Cuddyer remained in right field. Dustan Mohr replaced him for defense in the ninth.
Jones was 1-for-5 to drop his average to .347. Guzman raised his average to .317. Mientkiewicz raised his average to .314.
Hunter raised his average to .149. Cuddyer went 0-for-4 and was batting .167. A. J. Pierzynski was 0-for-4 and was batting .179.
Lohse had an ERA of 1.69. Hawkins retired both men he faced and had an ERA of zero. Romero's ERA was 2.57. Guardado was at 1.59.
Rivas was 8-for-16 with a triple and a double in the last four games.
The Twins had stretched their winning streak to four games. Would this be their fifth consecutive series sweep? We shall see.
Record: The Twins were 7-6, tied for second with Chicago in the American League Central, 4.5 games behind Kansas City.
Cal McVey (1849)
Pol Perritt (1891)
Bing Miller (1894) Kiki Cuyler (1896) Johnny Lindell (1916) Ted Williams (1918)
Frank Funk (1935)
Tug McGraw (1944) Roger Erickson (1956) Randy O’Neal (1960)
Marlon Byrd (1977)
Cliff Lee (1978) Luis Rivas (1979) Roberto Hernandez (1980)
Adam Wainwright (1981)
Taylor Hearn (1994)
Frank Funk served as a pitching coach for five major league teams (not all at the same time).
Randy O’Neal was drafted by Minnesota in 1979, but did not sign.
Taylor Hearn was drafted by Minnesota in 2014 but did not sign.
We would also like to wish a happy birthday to cheaptoy's trinket.
Batting star: Shannon Stewart was 2-for-4 with a home run, his second.
PItching stars: Johan Santana pitched eight innings, giving up two runs on two hits and two walks and striking out seven. Juan Rincon pitched a perfect inning.
Opposition stars: Bartolo Colon pitched 7.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and no walks and striking out seven. Vladimir Guerrero was 1-for-4 with a home run, his sixth. Jose Molina was 1-for-3 with a home run.
The game: There were no hits on either side until the fourth, when Guerrero hit a two-out home run to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. The Twins got their first hit in the fifth when Stewart led off with a single, but nothing came of it. Molina led off the sixth with a home run to make it 2-0.
The Twins threatened in the eighth. With one out, Jacque Jones singled, Michael Cuddyer singled, and pinch-hitter Joe Mauer walked, loading the bases. PInch-hitter Matthew LeCroy hit into a double play, and the inning was over. The Twins got on the board when Stewart led off the ninth with a home run, but the next three batters went out and the game was over.
WP: Colon (4-2). LP: Santana (4-1). S: Francisco Rodriguez (6).
Notes: Mike Redmond was behind the plate in place of Joe Mauer.
Luis Rivas was at second base. He was still the regular second baseman at this point, but was about at the end of the run. By the end of the season, Nick Punto would be the regular second baseman.
Juan Castro was at shortstop. He did end up playing the most games there, 73, but by the end of the season would be replaced by Jason Bartlett.
Lewwwwww Ford was in right field, with Jones moving to DH. LeCroy and Ford did most of the DHing in 2005, playing 63 and 44 games there, respectively.
Justin Morneau was batting .400. He would finish at .239. This was his first full season. Jones was batting .352--he would finish at .249. Mauer was batting .304--he would finish at .294, which led the team. LeCroy was batting .302--he would finish at .260. The Twins batted .259, which was next-to-last in the league. Boston led at .281.
Jones led in home runs with 23, with Morneau right behind at 22. LeCroy hit 17, Torii Hunter 14, Cuddyer 12, and Stewart 10. The Twins hit 134 home runs, which was twelfth in the league. Texas led with 260, well ahead of second-place New York at 229.
Santana was the clear ace of the staff, going 16-7, 2.87. Carlos Silva was 9-8, 3.44--this was the year he walked an incredible 9 batters in 188.1 innings. Two of the walks were intentional, so you could say he really only walked 7. Brad Radke was 9-12, 4.04 and Kyle Lohse was 9-13, 4.18. The weak link was Joe Mays, who was 6-10, 5.65. The Twins kept him in the rotation until September, when he finally replaced by rookie Scott Baker.
The Twins had an excellent bullpen. Joe Nathan was 7-4, 2.70, 43 saves. The team's only other save went to Jesse Crain, who was 12-5, 2.71. Juan Rincon was 6-6, 2.45 and J. C. Romero was 4-3, 3.47. Matt Guerrier also contributed, going 0-3, 3.39.
The Twins were fifth in the league in ERA at 3.71. Cleveland led at 3.61. The Twins were second in WHIP at 1.23, just behind Cleveland's 1.22.
I wonder what the record is for most runs in a game where all the runs came by solo home runs. I don't suppose this is all that close, but it would be interesting to know.
This loss snapped a five-game winning streak. They would lose two more, then win the next four.
Record: The Twins were 15-9, in second place in the American League Central, 2.5 games behind Chicago. They would finish 83-79, in third place, 16 games behind Chicago.
The Angels were 14-11, in first place in the American League West, one game ahead of Oakland. They would finish 95-67, in first place, seven games ahead of Oakland.
Rewind record: The Twins are 55-50 in Random Rewind games.
Batting stars: Dustan Mohr was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Jacque Jones was 2-for-4 with a walk and a double. Torii Hunter was 2-for-4 with a double.
Pitching stars: Tony Fiore pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out one. Mike Jackson pitched a perfect inning while striking out one. Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect inning while striking out one.
Opposition stars: Cliff Floyd was 2-for-4 with a home run (his fourteenth), a double, and a walk. Mike Lowell was 1-for-3 with a home run (his ninth) and a walk. Andy Fox was 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, his tenth.
The game: The Marlins scored in the top of the first, as Luis Castillo led off with a single and scored on Floyd's double. The Twins tied it in the second when Corey Koskie walked, went to third on a stolen base-plus-error, and scored on a Mohr double. Hunter's two-run double in the third put the Twins ahead 3-1, but Florida come right back in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back homers by Floyd and Lowell to tie it 3-3.
Mohr led off the bottom of the fourth with a double and scored on Jones' single to give the Twins a 4-3 advantage. The Marlins led off the sixth with two walks, but Fiore came in to retire the next three batters to get out of the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, back-to-back doubles by Luis Rivas and Jones made the score 5-3.
Florida put men on first and third with two out in the seventh, but J. C. Romero came on to retire Cliff Floyd on a ground out and the Marlins did not get a baserunner after that.
WP: Matt Kinney (2-5). LP: Kevin Olsen (0-4). S: Guardado (18).
Notes: Jones raised his average to .316. Hunter went up to .314. Mohr was batting .336. A. J. Pierzynski was 1-for-4 to make his average .331. Romero's ERA fell to 0.79. Jackson now had an ERA of 1.07.
This was Luis Rivas' seventh game of the season. He was batting .400 (10-for-25). He would end the season at .256.
Koskie had stolen twenty-seven bases in 2001, more than double what he did in any other year. He would steal ten in 2002 and eleven in 2003, the only years when he reached double digit stolen bases. He had seventy-one for his career.
Kinney struck out six in five innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks. Florida starter Kevin Olsen pitched 4.1 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and three walks and striking out four.
This was one of only ten starts Olsen made in his major league career. Florida drafted him in the twenty-sixth round in 1998. He got a September call-up from AA in 2001 and pitched quite well, throwing seven shutout innings against Montreal on October 3. He appears to have been the fifth starter for Florida at the start of the 2002 season, pitching out of the bullpen when a fifth starter was not needed due to off-days or rainouts. He did okay in nine relief appearances, but was not very good in eight starts and was sent down in early July. He was pitching really well in AAA Albuquerque in 2003 and came up to the majors in June. He made on good appearance and three really bad ones. In the last one, on June 27, he was hit in the head by a Todd Walker line drive, landing him on the disabled list. He came back in September and had one really bad outing and two good ones. He apparently was still dealing with injury in 2004, as he made just ten starts for Albuquerque. He signed with Pittsburgh for 2005 but never threw a pitch for them all year and was released after the season. He started 2006 in independent ball and finished it in AA for Oakland, doing very well in thirteen starts. He made just two bad starts in AAA in 2007, however, before being released. A quick Google search did not reveal whether the later injuries had to do with concussion symptoms or if they were independent of that. He might not have done much in the majors anyway, but it's too bad that he couldn't stay healthy so he could find out for sure.
Record: The Twins were 36-26, in first place in the American League Central, six games ahead of Chicago. The Twins would end at 94-67 and would win the division by 13.5 games.
Florida was 30-31, in fourth place in the National League East, 5.5 games behind Atlanta. The Marlins would finish 79-83 and would stay in fourth place. twenty-three games behind the Braves.
Unlike its preceding digit, Nº 2 has a collection of distinguishing achievements in its history: an MVP award, a Rookie of the Year award, and multiple All-Star and Gold Glove nods. Its incumbant might be the
Zoilo Casanova Versalles Rodriguez left Nº 5 behind him in Washington and broke in Nº 2 for the Twins in 1961. His selection for MVP was (and remains, for some) rather contentious, but if you're of the opinion that the MVP should be awarded to position players, Zoilo is a worthy recipient. His 7.2 rWAR led AL position players, just edging Chicago second baseman Don Buford. Teammate Tony Oliva and Detroit's Norm Cash tied for third with 5.4, followed closely by Jim Fregosi (5.3). Zoilo Versalles was the first Latin American player to be named MVP.
Zoilo signed with the Senators when he was 17 and reached the AL at 19, but his MLB career was over at 31. These factors contributed to a pretty tragic story after baseball. According to Zoilo's New York Times obituary, following his death at age 55:
After playing a season in Japan in 1972, Versalles returned to the Minneapolis area but found it virtually impossible to make a living, partly because he had never learned to read or write English and partly because of the lingering effects of a back injury he suffered while running out a ground ball with the Dodgers in 1968.
He held a series of menial jobs, but lost his house to foreclosure and was eventually forced to sell his m.v.p. trophy, his All-Star rings and his Gold Glove award.
In addition to his back problems he suffered two heart attacks and underwent stomach surgery.
In recent years he had been sustained by disability payments, Social Security and memories of a season that came only once.
Graig Nettles wore three numbers during his brief Twins career; Nº 2 was the last. Billy Martin first became his manager at AAA Denver, where Martin replaced Johnny Goryl at the end of June 1968. Martin pressed Nettles into double duty, giving him reps in the outfield as well as third base. When Nettles was called up to Minnesota in September, he played 16 of his 22 games in the outfield. In 1969 he got into 96 games, 74 on defense. With Harmon Killebrew en route to an MVP season and Rich Reese playing over his head with a career year, Nettles got only 21 games at third base. He found himself in something of a platoon with Bob Allison, who was 34 and, while still productive, nearing the end of his career. Nettles started hot, topping out at .316/.371/.561 (.306 BAbip) in mid-May, but bad luck led to a hard fade and he went .190/.303/.613 (.226 BAbip) the rest of the way.
Nettles was heading into his age 25 season when the Twins traded him; Harmon Killebrew turned 34 years old the same year. Nettles put up a 5.2 rWAR campaign in 1970. His manager, Alvin Dark, stuck him a third for the whole campaign. His 101 OPS+ wasn't exciting, but he showed some power with 26 homers, walked more than he struck out, and flashed excellent leather (22 Fielding Runs). The Twins repeated as AL West Champs in 1970, without much help from Luis Tiant, the primary return in the deal that sent Nettles to Cleveland or Rich Reese, who hit .261/.332/.371 (92 OPS+) in 564 PA as the primary first baseman. The Twins released Tiant in March 1971. Reese plummeted to a .219/.270/.353 (74 OPS+) in 359 PA. Harmon Killebrew moved across the diamond to first base, and 23 year old rookie Steve Braun took over at the hot corner. Braun didn't embarrass himself, turning in 1.0 rWAR year, but the Twins fell from first to fifth in the West. Nettles swatted 28 homers and displayed a fine eye (82 walks to 56 strikeouts), ending 1971 with a 114 OPS+ and 30 Fielding Runs. All that was good for a 7.5 rWAR season, just short of double César Tovar's total, which led the position player ledger of the '71 Twins. Braun eventually wore Nettles' Nº 2 in 1976, which was his last year in Minnesota. More on his story another time.
Three seasons after Braun's departure, the Twins finally seemed like they might fill the hole they created by trading Nettles when John Castino split co-Rookie of the Year honors with Toronto's Alfredo Griffin. (Between 1971–1979 Nettles put up 41.8 rWAR, including an MVP-worthy 8.0 rWAR year in 1976. Nettles finished 16th in MVP voting, tied with Baltimore-era Reggie Jackson. This is the only time anyone will ever hear me say a Yankme was robbed of an MVP.) Castino's rookie season was a solid 2-win effort. Castino hadn't played a game above AA Orlando when he made the major league roster out of Spring Training in 1979. His .285 batting average drew favorable notice in the era, surprising even his manager, Gene Mauch; his .331 OBP and .112 ISO speak to the shape of his overall production at the plate. Castino's defense, however, drew more than one comparison to Brooks Robinson, who had retired partway into the 1977 season. Mauch might have seen Robinson play at age 19 or 20, when they briefly overlapped in the American League, but given that Mauch spent Robinson's heyday managing the Phillies and Expos, one wonders exactly how much eyeball time he had to draw the comparison. Brooks, for his part, accepted it, saying that Castino's throwing & actions reminded him of himself, and opining that Castino looked to already be a fine fielder.
In fairness to Castino, that much was true. From 1980–1983, his glove contributed 36 Fielding Runs' worth of value to the Twins' defense, even though he played fewer than 120 games twice in that span. The limited playing time was due not only to the '81 strike, but the discovery of a back problem that ultimately cut his career short. X-rays taken after Castino was injured diving for a ball late in the second half of the season resulted in a spondylolysis diagnosis. Castino tried playing through it at first, but had to back off. Doctors ultimately performed a spinal procedure that fused a couple of his vertebrae together. Atrophied from a winter in a body cast, Castino tried to play out the '82 season at a new position; Gary Gaetti's arrival shifted Castino over to second baseThe results supported Castino's after-the-fact observation that he was not ready to resume playing baseball that year. Who knows whether a year of PT and gradual adjustment back to the game would have changed anything for him, given the therapies available at the time. Castino only got one more year on the diamond, playing second base and matching his career-best with another 4.5 rWAR season. With Castino under contract through the 1987 season, the mid-Eighties Twins might have had some interesting choices to make to find enough playing time between second & third for him, Gaetti, and rookie Tim Teufel. Unfortunately, those good problems never materialized. Castino's back limited him to 9 games in 1984, and that was it. Just as the Twins were starting to turn their fortunes around with the maturation of the core of the cohort of prospects that won the '87 World Series, Castino's career was over. He was 29. He appeared in just 666 games and made only 2578 plate appearances. Thirty-six years later, Castino's 39.3 Fielding Runs still place him 5th among Twins infielders and 10th among all position players. Brooks Robinson & Gene Mauch were right — he turned out to be a pretty good fielder.
Chris Pittaro wore Nº 2 next. Pittaro is perhaps most notable for the scouting & front office career he began with the Athletics in 1991. That gig reunited Pittaro with his Twins teammate Billy Beane; he became one of the Oakland front office characters named in Moneyball, is still a special assistant to Oakland GM David Forst.
Wally Backman managed to achieve -0.7 rWAR in just 87 games and 337 PA for the '89 Twins. He can thank Luis Rivas for sparing him the honor of worst season while wearing Nº 2.
Pat Meares had the unenviable task of succeeding Greg Gagne as the Twins' primary shortstop. Younger and cheaper, Meares' Twins tenure nevertheless was not as valuable as the five seasons Gags split between Kansas City & Los Angeles to end his career:
Luis Rivas broke in as a full-time player in 2001 & was the second baseman when the Twins began their resurgence in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, he contributed little to that effort. Rivas made over 2000 plate appearances, mustering an 80 OPS+. His hitting was a mirror of his fielding: Rivas' -54 Batting Runs made a potent statement at the plate, while his -51 Fielding Runs made his defense conspicuous. In the five seasons Rivas was (or began the season as) the Twins' primary second baseman, the team went 444-365. Many more things about Luis Rivas, but suffice it to say that he was the starting second baseman on a string of successful Twins teams, often plying his trade in the Nº 2 hole (666 PA). I don't remember who came up with the nickname (Gleeman?), but I'll always remember him as "Luis Oh-for-ThRivas."
For five seasons Denard Span blended excellent outfield defense, solid on-base skills, and good baserunning. Span's glove ranks 6th among Twins outfielders with 39.0 Fielding Runs, and places him 11th among all Twins position players. One of the great DSPAN2 fun facts is that he was — at least by one definition — the most exciting player on the Twins' roster: he hit 36 triples (half his career total) with the Twins, against 23 homers. A concussion and some other injuries intruded on his playing time, so he was only the primary center fielder twice during his Twins tenure, but he was nonetheless a very solid player during the last few years in the Metrodome and the first few at Target Field.
The Twins traded DSPAN2 in November 2012, sending him to the Nationals for pitching prospect Alex Meyer. The next season, Brian Dozier made two significant changes: he moved from shortstop to second base, and he took over Nº 2. Dozier had worn different numbers at AAA Rochester and Southern Mississippi, and neither his birth date or month suggest an attachment to the number. The new position minimized some defensive shortcomings. Dozier's defense at second base was very strong in 2013, but he never matched it again, and by 2018 was a bit of a liability in the field. Nonetheless, Dozier put together a string of seasons that gave a whole different shape to the position, something Twins fans had not seen in over fifty years: the slugging second baseman. In his five full seasons with the Twins, Dozier averaged 29 home runs per season. In 2016, he became the first Twin hit 40+ homers since since Harmon Killebrew in 1971. Dozier carried a .202 ISO into his last season with the Twins, slipping to .199 before the Twins sent him to the Dodgers at the trade deadline. Measured by rWAR, Dozier was the most successful player to wear Nº 2.
For all the Bomba Squad excitement last season, Luis Arraez might have been the Twins' most interesting hitter to watch at the plate. One plate appearance rarely is enough to define a player, but Arraez' pinch hitting appearance after Jonathan Scoop injured himself down 0-2 to fireballer Jeurys Familia on July 16 was really dang cool. It will be interesting to see what he can do with a full-time gig at second this season.