TEXAS 6, MINNESOTA 0 IN TEXAS.
Date: Saturday, September 19.
Batting stars: Sal Butera was 1-for-3. Hosken Powell was 1-for-4. Those were the only two hits the Twins had.
Pitching star: Bob Veselic pitched 6.2 scoreless innings of relief, giving up four hits and two walks and striking out four.
Opposition stars: Doc Medich pitched a two-hit shutout, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out four. Mickey Rivers was 3-for-5. Al Oliver was 2-for-4.
The game: All the runs were scored in the second inning. Twins starter Darrell Jackson struck out Leon Roberts to start the inning. Then Jim Sundberg and Bill Stein singled, with Stein taking second on a throw to third. That led to an intentional walk to Billy Sample. Then Mark Wagner had an RBI single, Bump Wills had a two-run single, Rivers had an RBI single, and Oliver had a run-scoring single. Veselic then came in and gave up a two-out double RBI double to Roberts, making the score 6-0.
And that was it. The Twins, as stated above, had just two hits, and both were singles. Butera broke up the no-hitter in the eighth inning. Powell singled leading off the ninth.
WP: Medich. (9-5). LP: Jackson (3-3). S: None.
Notes: Tim Corcoran was at first base. The Twins didn't really have a regular first baseman. Danny Goodwin played 40 games there, Ron Jackson 36, Corcoran 16, Kent Hrbek (a September call-up) 13, and Pete Mackanin 10.
Ron Washington was at shortstop. Roy Smalley had been the regular shortstop, but missed a month due to injury and was the DH when he came back.
Gary Ward, who normally was the left fielder, was in center in place of Mickey Hatcher, who was given the day off. Rick Sofield was in left. Powell was in right in place of Dave Engle, who was given the day off.
The Twins didn't have anyone come remotely close to batting .300. John Castino led the team in batting at .268. As I recall, Bill James referred to him as the team's "least inadequate player". The Twins finished next-to-last in batting at .240. Toronto was last at .226. Boston led the league at .275.
Smalley led the team in home runs with seven. That's right, seven. Yes, it was a strike year, and the Twins only played 109 games (that's why game 96 is in September). But seven? I suspect you'd have to go back to the deadball era to find another time someone led their team in home runs with seven. I suspect that even with a sixty-game schedule this year (assuming it's actually played), every team will have someone who hits more than seven home runs. That's embarrassing. Remarkably, the Twins were only next-to-last in home runs with 47. Cleveland was last with 39 (their leader in home runs was Bo Diaz, who also had seven). Oakland led the league in home runs with 104.
Jackson lasted just 1.1 innings, allowing all six runs on seven hits and a walk and striking out one. The Twins' rotation really wasn't awful, although it was nothing to shout about. Pete Redfern was 9-8, 4.07; Al Williams 6-10, 4.08; Fernando Arroyo 7-10, 3.93; Roger Erickson 3-8, 3.84; Jerry Koosman 3-9, 4.20; and Brad Havens 3-6, 3.58. The bullpen had Doug Corbett, who posted an ERA of 2.57, a WHIP of 1.30, and 17 saves. Koosman had five saves--for reasons I forget now, the Twins put him in the bullpen in August before trading him to Chicago in September. Veselic, who pitched so well in this game, was a September call-up who went 1-1, 3.18 in five games (22.2 innings). He would never get another chance, though--he pitched poorly in AAA in 1982 and again in 1983 and was done.
The Twins were next-to-last in ERA at 3.98. Seattle was last at 4.23. New York led the league at 2.90. The Twins were last in WHIP at 1.43. New York led there, too, at 1.18. I hadn't remembered that 1981 was such a pitchers' year, but apparently it was.
Doc Medich has been pretty much forgotten about, but he was a pretty fair pitcher. 124-105, 3.78, 1.33 WHIP in just under two thousand innings. 1981 was probably his best year: 10-6, 3.08, 1.18 WHIP, led the league in shutouts with 4. I'm not nominating him for the Hall of Fame or anything, but he was a solid major league pitcher for several years.
I have always considered 1981 the nadir of Twins baseball. Yes, they've had teams with worse winning percentages, although not a lot of them. But their other bad teams have had a star you could root for, or some young up-and-coming players to give you hope, or something. The 1981 Twins had none of that until September, when they started calling up players like Hrbek and Gary Gaetti. Here's the list of the nine players who played the most games for the Twins in 1981: Castino, Hatcher, Rob Wilfong, Ward, Engle, Powell, Mackanin, Glenn Adams, Sal Butera. A few of those guys weren't terrible, eventually, but none was good. The highest OPS out of that group was Engle at .703. Engle was also the only young player, at 24. The rest were all 26-27 or older, and so were as good as they were likely to be (granted, Ward was able to develop into a good player for a few years). It was just a really hard team to root for.
Record: The Twins were 36-59 overall. As you may recall, the strike resulted in the schedule being divided into two halves--the Twins were 19-22 in the second half at this point. They would finish 24-29, in fourth place in the American League West, six games behind Kansas City. Overall they would finish 41-68, in seventh (last) place, 23 games behind Oakland.
The Rangers were 49-42 overall. They would finish 24-26 in the second half, in third place in the American League West, 4.5 games behind Kansas City. Overall they would finish 57-48, in second place, five games behind Oakland.
Random record: The Twins are 51-49 in Random Rewind games.