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2003 Rewind: ALDS, Game Four

NEW YORK 8, MINNESOTA 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Sunday, October 5.

Batting stars:  Torii Hunter was 3-for-4.  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4.

Pitching star:  Eric Milton pitched 3.1 scoreless innings of relief, giving up two hits and striking out two.

Opposition stars:  David Wells pitched 7.2 innings, giving up one run on eight hits and no walks and striking out four.  Derek Jeter was 2-for-4 with a home run and a walk.  Jason Giambi was 2-for-4 with two doubles.  Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.  Jorge Posada was 2-for-5.

The game:  Well, it was good for three innings.  The Twins got a man to second in both the second and third, but could not get him farther.  The Yankees had only one hit, and did not advance the man past first.

Then came the fourth.  Jeter struck out, but Giambi and Bernie Williams hit back-to-back doubles to get New York on the board.  Posada singled to put men on first and third.  Hideki Matsui hit a ground-rule double to make it 2-0.  Aaron Boone popped up and Juan Rivera was intentionally walked to load the bases.  It backfired, as Nick Johnson doubled home two and Soriano singled home two more.  It was 6-0 Yankees, and the game and the series were pretty much over at that point.

They played the remaining five and a half innings, of course.  The Twins got on the board in the bottom of the fourth on consecutive singles by HunterPierzynski, and Michael Cuddyer.  The Yankees scored in the eighth when Boone singled, stole second, and scored on a bunt single-plus-error by Rivera.  The Twins got a pair of two-out singles in the eighth to drive Wells from the game, but did not score.  Jeter homered leading off the ninth.

WP:  Wells.  LP:  Johan Santana.  S:  None.

Notes:  The Twins used their standard lineup with the exception of Cuddyer at DH.  Shannon Stewart was in left and Jacque Jones in right.  There were no in-game lineup substitutions.

Santana was dealing with a hamstring issue, which is likely why he could not keep it going after three innings.  His line was 3.2 innings, six runs, six hits, one walk, and three strikeouts.

The Twins were outscores sixteen to six in the series.  Six runs over four games, and three in the last three, is not likely to get the job done.

Little did we know the string of post-season futility this series began.

Record:  The Twins lost the best-of-five series, three games to one.

2003 Rewind: ALDS, Game Three

NEW YORK 3, MINNESOTA 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, October 4.

Batting stars:  A. J. Pierzynski was 1-for-3 with a home run.  Shannon Stewart was 1-for-3 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Kenny Rogers struck out three in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk.  J. C. Romero pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk.  Juan Rincon pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Roger Clemens pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk and striking out six.  Juan Rivera was 3-for-4.  Bernie Williams was 2-for-3 with a double and two walks.  Hideki Matsui was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer.  Mariano Rivera struck out three in two perfect innings.

The game:  Williams doubled leading off the second and Matsui hit a one-out two-run homer to give the Yankees the early lead.  It went to 3-0 in the third on singles by Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Williams.  A. J. Pierzynski led off the bottom of the third with a home run to cut the lead to 3-1.

And that's where it stayed.  The Twins got a pair of two-out singles in the fifth, but pinch-hitter Michael Ryan struck out to end the inning.  Doug Mientkiewicz led off the sixth with a single-plus-error but was stranded on second.  Mariano Rivera again came into the game at the start of the eighth inning and the Twins could again do nothing against him.

WP:  Clemens.  LP:  Kyle Lohse.  S:  Rivera.

Notes:  The Twins again used the same lineup.  Ryan pinch-hit for Luis Rivas in the fifth.  Denny Hocking went in to play second base.  Lew Ford pinch-hit for Hocking in the eighth.  Chris Gomez went in to play second base.

Lohse started and pitched five innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks and striking out five.  He threw 105 pitches in those five innings.  The Yankees of that era made you work, as have the Yankees in many eras.

The Twins were 0-for-6 with men in scoring position.

The Twins had held New York to eight runs over the three games.  The trouble was the Twins had only scored five, and had scored just one in each of the last two games.  The record of teams scoring one run is better than that of teams scoring zero, but it's still not very good.

The Twins would send Johan Santana, who was still dealing with an injured hamstring, to the mound to try to save the season the next day.  He would face David Wells for New York.

Record:  The Twins were 1-2 in the best-of-five series.

2003 Rewind: Game Ninety-one

ANAHEIM 5, MINNESOTA IN ANAHEIM

Date:  Friday, July 11.

Batting star:  Luis Rivas was 1-for-2 and was hit by a pitch.

Pitching stars:  Johan Santana pitched six inning, giving up three runs on five hits and no walks and striking out four.  Juan Rincon pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Ramon Ortiz pitched six shutout innings, giving up three hits and four walks and striking out five.  Garret Anderson was 2-for-4.  Tim Salmon was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his fourteenth.  Scott Spiezio was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his ninth.  Brendan Donnelly pitched two perfect innings, striking out one.

The game:  The Twins got two on with one out in the third and loaded the bases with two out in the fourth, but could not get on the board.  They only had one hit in those innings, with the other baserunners coming from walks and a hit batsman.  The Angels got on the board in the fourth when Anderson singled, was balked to second, and scored on a Troy Glaus double.

The Twins had men on first and third with two out in the fifth, but again could not score.  In the sixth Darin Erstad doubled and Salmon hit a two-run homer to make it 3-0.  Anaheim got two more in the eighth when Erstad walked and Spiezio hit a two-run homer.  The Twins got only one hit in the last four innings, a one-out single by Rivas in the seventh.

WP:  Ortiz (11-6).  LP:  Santana (4-2).  S:  Donnelly (2).

Notes:  Chris Gomez was at short in place of Cristian Guzman.  Guzman entered the game in the fourth inning in the spot of Corey Koskie, due to injury.  Gomez moved to third base.  Koskie would not return to the lineup until August 4.  Dustan Mohr remained in left in place of Jacque Jones, with Bobby Kielty in right.  Denny Hocking was in center in place of Torii Hunter.

Matthew LeCroy was 1-for-4 and was batting .302.

Santana entered the rotation at this point, taking the spot of Joe Mays.  His ERA was an even 3.00.  Rincon's ERA went down to 3.33.

The Twins were again shut down by an average pitcher.  Yes, Ortiz was 11-6, but his ERA at this point was 4.41.  He'd had a fine year in 2002, going 15-9, 3.77, 1.18 WHIP, but in 2003 a shiny won-lost record hid the fact that he wasn't very good.  He wouldn't get better in the second half, either:  he ended the season 16-13, 5.20, 1.51 WHIP.  He would continue to pitch for another ten years, but he never had a good year in the majors again.

Anaheim's closer, of course, was Troy Percival, but Donnelly was really good, too.  He didn't give up an earned run until May 22, his twenty-first game.  This was the thirty-ninth game he'd appeared in, and he'd still given up a grand total of one earned run, giving him an ERA of 0.38.  He didn't keep that up, of course, but he ended the season with an ERA of 1.58 and a WHIP of 1.07.  This was the second of three saves he had for the season.  He made his only all-star team this season.  He was a fine reliever until 2007, when he blew out his elbow.  He tried to come back in 2008 and was terrible, but he bounced back to have a strong season in 2009.  That was his last good season, though, and after 2010 he was done.

The Twins had lost six games in a row and ten of eleven.

Record:  The Twins were 44-47, second in the American League Central, 5.5 games behind Kansas City.  They were one game ahead of third-place Chicago.

2003 Rewind: Game Ninety

TEXAS 9, MINNESOTA 4 AT TEXAS

Date:  Thursday, July 10.

Batting starsCorey Koskie was 3-for-5.  Denny Hocking was 2-for-2.  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-5 with two doubles.  Matthew LeCroy was 2-for-5.

Pitching star:  Joe Mays pitched a scoreless inning of relief, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  John Thomson pitched seven innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on eight hits and two walks and striking out four.  Michael Young was 3-for-4 with a three-run homer (his ninth), a double, and two runs.  Juan Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his twenty-second and twenty-third) and four RBIs.  Mark Teixiera was 2-for-4 with a home run, his thirteenth.

The game:  Young and Hank Blalock opened the game with singles, and later in the first Gonzalez hit a three-run homer to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.  The Twins got on the board in the third when Cristian Guzman reached on an error and scored on a Doug Mientkiewicz single.  Gonzalez homered in the fourth to make it 4-1, but the Twins got the run back in the fifth when Mientkiewicz walked, went to third on a Koskie single, and scored on a ground out, cutting the margin to 4-2.

But it was downhill from there.  In the bottom of the fifth, Laynce Nix and Einar Diaz singled and Young hit a three-run homer.  In the sixth Teixeira homered and another run scored on a sacrifice fly.  It was 9-2 and the game was pretty much gone.

The Twins put two on in the seventh, but nothing came of it.  They did add two in the eighth.  LeCroy singled, Bobby Kielty walked, and an error loaded the bases.  A double play scored a run and Hocking singled home another, but that was all the Twins could do.  They got a two-out double in the ninth, but no more, and it ended 9-4.

WP:  Thomson (6-9).  LP:  Rick Reed (4-9).  S:  None.

Notes:  Dustan Mohr remained in left and Kielty in right in the absence of Jacque Jones.  Hocking pinch-hit for Cristian Guzman in the seventh and remained in the game at shortstop.

LeCroy raised his average to .303.  Koskie raised his average to .300.

Reed lasted 4.1 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits and a walk and striking out three.  His ERA went to 5.03.

James Baldwin made his Minnesota Twins debut in this game.  He had signed with the Twins on June 10.  He would stay for a little over a month, then be released.  In this game he pitched 2.1 innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits.

The Twins offense was again shut down by a mediocre pitcher.  Thomson would go 13-14, 4.85 in 35 starts for Texas in 2003.  He had been mediocre for Colorado in 1997 and 1998, but people made allowances for his youth and the thin air of Denver.  He was horrible in 1999, then was injured (or maybe he was injured and then was horrible), missed all of 2000, and came back to be fairly good in 2001.  He only had one good year after that, though:  with Atlanta in 2004.  Not that he was terrible; he just was, as we said mediocre.  For his career he was 63-85, 4.68.

The Twins had lost five in a row and nine of ten.  They're only consolation was that Kansas City and Chicago weren't doing much, either.  They had to feel like the all-star break couldn't come fast enough, but there were three games to play in Anaheim first.

Record:  The Twins were 44-46, in second place in the American League Central, 4.5 games behind Kansas City.  They were one game ahead of third place Chicago.

2003 Rewind: Game Seventy-seven

CHICAGO 5, MINNESOTA 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, June 26.

Batting star:  Corey Koskie was 2-for-4 with a double.

Pitching star:  Micheal Nakamura pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Mark Buehrle struck out nine in a complete game, giving up one run on five hits and two walks.  Jose Valentin was 2-for-3 with a triple, a double, and two RBIs.

The game:  With two out in the third Sandy Alomar singled and scored from first on a D'Angelo Jimenez double.  Aaron Rowand followed with a run-scoring single and it was 2-0 White Sox.  In the sixth, Magglio Ordonez and Brian Daubach singled, and Valentin circled the bases on a double-plus-error, making the score 5-0.

Meanwhile the Twins were doing next to nothing on offense.  Through eight innings they had three hits and did not advance a man past first base.  They avoided the shutout in the ninth when Denny Hocking led off with a single and scored from first on Koskie's double.  The next three batters went out and the game was over.

WP:  Buehrle (5-10).  LP:  Brad Radke (5-7).  S:  None.

Notes:  Matthew LeCroy was behind the plate in place of A. J. Pierzynski.  Hocking was at short in place of Cristian Guzman.  Bobby Kielty was the DH.  There were no in-game lineup substitutions.

Koskie raised his average to .311.  Mientkiewicz was 0-for-3 and was at an even .300.  Jacque Jones was 0-for-4 and fell under .300 at .299.

Radke pitched eight innings but allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits.  He walked none and struck out two.  His ERA came down to 5.64.

By game scores, this was Buehrle's best game of the season, narrowly beating eight shutout innings in his second start of the year.  The Twins had beaten up on him the last time they saw him, on May 16 (10 runs, 9 earned, in 3.1 innings), but he got his revenge here.  That's baseball.

Record:  The Twins were 41-36, in second place in the American League Central, one game behind Kansas City.

1991 Rewind: Game Eleven

CALIFORNIA 2, MINNESOTA 1 IN CALIFORNIA

Date:  Saturday, April 20.

Batting star:  Chili Davis was 1-for-3 with a home run, his second.

Pitching star:  Allan Anderson pitched an eight-inning complete game, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk.  He did not strike out anyone.

Opposition stars:  Kirk McCaskill pitched eight innings, giving up one run on three hits and a walk with two strikeouts.  Dave Gallagher was 2-for-2.

The game:  Not a lot of offense--the two teams combined for just seven hits.  The Angels started the scoring in the third inning, when Donnie Hill doubled, was bunted to third, and scored on a sacrifice fly.  The Twins did not have any kind of threat for seven innings, but Davis led off the eighth with a home run to tie it 1-1.  It was immediately untied in the bottom of the eighth.  Gallagher singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on a Luis Polonia single to make it 2-1 California.  The Twins went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  McCaskill (2-1).  LP:  Anderson (1-2).  S:  Bryan Harvey (3).

Notes:  Randy Bush was in right field, with Kirby Puckett moving to center and Shane Mack on the bench.

No Twins batters got out of their slumps in this game, as the team only had three hits.  Puckett was 0-for-3 and was batting .333.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit and went 0-for-1 and was also batting .333.

Dan Gladden was 0-for-4 and was batting .032.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-3 to raise his average to .125.  Bush was 0-for-3 and was batting .167.

This was the second consecutive game in which a Twins pitcher got a complete game loss.  I wonder when the last time is that happened.

The Twins had lost seven in a row.  They had scored twelve runs in their last six games and four runs in their last four games.  The pitching staff had allowed just eleven runs in the last four games but the team had not won any of them.

Outfielder Dave Gallagher actually had a pretty decent career.  He made the Cleveland roster coming out of spring training in 1987 but lasted only a month.  He was traded to Seattle after the season, released, and signed with the White Sox, He came up to the majors in mid-May and was their starting center fielder through 1989.  He finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting in 1988, when he batted .303.  He only batted .266 in 1989, though, and as he had no power that wasn't good enough.  He was a reserve the rest of his career, but it was a substantial one, lasting through 1995.  He bounced around a lot, playing for Baltimore, California, the Mets, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and California again.  His best average and OPS came in his last season, when he batted .306 with an  OPS of .769.  He was only thirty-five at that point, and you'd think someone would've wanted him, but no one did and his playing career was over.  Over nine seasons he batted .271/.331/.353 in 794 games and 2343 plate appearances.  He coached in high school and community college.  He also invented an instructional device called the Stride Tutor.  He currently operates the Dave Gallagher Baseball Academy in North Trenton, New Jersey.

Record:  The Twins were 2-9, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, 5.5 games behind California and Oakland, and three games behind sixth-place Texas.

1991 Rewind: Game Ten

CALIFORNIA 2, MINNESOTA 0 IN CALIFORNIA

Date:  Friday, April 19.

Batting stars:  None.  The Twins had just two hits.

Pitching star:  Jack Morris pitched an eight-inning complete game, giving up two runs on seven hits and three walks and striking out six.

Opposition stars:  Chuck Finley pitched a complete game shutout, giving up two hits and two walks and striking out nine.  Wally Joyner was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.  Junior Felix was 2-for-3.

The game:  For the first six innings only one man got as far as third base.  That happened in the third, when Felix singled, was bunted to second, and advanced to third on a ground out.  The game stayed scoreless, however, until the seventh.  The first two Angels went out that inning, but singles by Donnie Hill, Jack Howell, and Felix made the score 1-0.  California added a run in the eighth when Joyner led off with a double, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a wild pitch.

The Twins did nothing on offense the entire game.  The only man to reach second base was Greg Gagne, who hit a one-out double in the sixth.  He did not advance.

WP:  Finley (3-0).  LP:  Morris (0-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Dan Gladden was back in the lineup in left field.  Shane Mack remained in center and Kirby Puckett in right.

Puckett was 1-for-4 and was batting .359.  Brian Harper was 0-for-3 and was batting .333.  Gagne was 1-for-3 and was batting .304.

Gladden was 0-for-3 with a walk and was batting .037.  Kent Hrbek was 0-for-3 and was batting .108.  Mack was 0-for-3 and was batting .143.  Scott Leius was 0-for-2 with a walk and was batting .154.  I did not remember that so many regulars started off the season in batting slumps.

Morris had a fine game, but his ERA was still a very high 6.38.  Also, while again it was a fine game, it was not even in his top ten for the season as judged by game scores.

Not only did each pitcher throw a complete game, but neither team substituted at all.  The same ten players started and ended the game for each team.  That's pretty much unheard of today, but I suspect it was rather unusual even then.

It was the sixth straight loss for the Twins, in their last five games, they had scored just eleven runs and had been shut out twice.

Record:  The Twins were 2-8, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, 5.5 games behind Oakland.