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 Davis, Brian 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.