DETROIT 6, MINNESOTA 2 IN DETROIT
Date: Monday, August 24.
Batting stars: Kent Hrbek was 2-for-4 with a home run, his fourteenth. Shane Mack was 2-for-4. Randy Bush was 2-for-4.
Pitching stars: Mike Trombley struck out four in three innings of relief, giving up one run on three hits. Rick Aguilera pitched a perfect inning, striking out one.
Opposition stars: Eric King pitched seven innings, giving up one run on four hits and one walk and striking out five. Skeeter Barnes was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his third. Mark Carreon was 2-for-4. Tony Phillips was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Dan Gladden was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his sixth. Cecil Fielder was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twenty-eighth.
The game: Neither team did much for the first two innings, but the Tigers opened the third with consecutive singles by Carreon, Barnes, and Gary Pettis to take a 1-0 lead. They did no more damage, however, and when Hrbek homered with two out in the fourth, the scored was tied 1-1.
But then Detroit took over in the fifth. Barnes led off with a single and went to third on a stolen base-plus-error. Pettis walked, Phillips hit a two-run double, and Gladden followed with a two-run homer. The Tigers had a 5-1 lead.
The Twins put men on second and third with two out in the bottom of the fifth, but nothing came of it. Fielder homered leading off the seventh to make it 6-1. The Twins got one in the eighth on singles by Chuck Knoblauch and Mack and an infield out by Kirby Puckett, but that was all they could do.
WP: King (4-4). LP: Bill Krueger (10-5). S: None.
Notes: The only variation from the standard 1992 lineup is that Bush was in right field rather than Pedro Munoz, who was apparently just given the day off.
The Twins used their bench in the ninth, although it didn't help any. Jeff Reboulet pinch-ran for Bush. Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Scott Leius. Mike Pagliarulo pinch-hit for Greg Gagne.
Puckett was batting .329. He would finish at .329, which led the team. Mack was batting .325. He would finish at .315. Brian Harper was batting .305. He would finish at .307. As a team the Twins batted a league-leading .277, well ahead of second-place Milwaukee at .268.
The 1992 team was not a homerun-hitting team. Puckett led the squad with 19. Mack was second at 16, followed by Hrbek with 15 and Munoz and Chili Davis with 12 each. The Twins hit 104 home runs, which was tenth in the league.
Krueger lasted five innings and allowed five runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out six. He had a decent-enough year, going 10-6, 4.30, 1.31 WHIP, not bad for a fourth starter. The staff ace was John Smiley, who was 16-9, 3.21, 1.12 WHIP. At the time Smiley was considered somewhat of a disappointment, but that's unfair. The Twins were coming off a World Series win, and Smiley was supposed to be the guy to lead them back there again. When they didn't get there, he got some of the blame, but he more than did his part. The main reason the Twins didn't get back to the World Series is that Oakland improved by twelve games. The Twins had a good team. The Athletics just had a better team.
Anyway, the rest of the rotation was Kevin Tapani (16-11, 3.97, 1.25) and Scott Erickson (13-12, 3.40, 1.32). Another reason the Twins couldn't overtake Oakland is that they couldn't find a fifth starter. Pat Mahomes started and ended the season as the fifth starter, but in the middle it was Willie Banks. Neither of them got the job done. Mahomes was 3-4, 5.04, 1.58 WHIP. Banks was 4-4, 5.70, 1.65 WHIP.
The bullpen was extremely good, with five relievers with ERAs below three. Rick Aguilera was 2-6, 2.84, 1.16. Carl Willis was 7-3, 2.72, 1.06. Tom Edens was 6-3, 2.83, 1.32. Mark Guthrie was 2-3, 2.88, 1.09. Gary Wayne was 3-3, 2.63, 1.35. That's a reliable bullpen.
The Twins were third in ERA at 3.70. Milwaukee led at 3.43. The Twins were second in WHIP at 1.29. Milwaukee led there, too, at 1.22.
By game scores, this was the best game of the season for Eric King. He was a solid pitcher from 1988-1990, but was not any more by 1992. This was his last year, and he went 4-6, 5.22, 1.49. But he was too much for the Twins on this day. That's baseball.
August was the worst month of the season for the Twins, as they went 12-17. One could argue that this poor month cost the Twins the pennant, too.
Record: The Twins were 69-56, in second place in the American League West, 7 games behind Oakland. They would finish 90-72, in second place, 6 games behind Oakland.
The Tigers were 60-66, in fourth place in the American League East, 11.5 games behind Toronto. They would finish 75-87, in sixth place, 21 games behind Toronto.
Random Record: The Twins are 43-43 in Random Rewind games.