Tag Archives: pennant race

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Forty-nine

MINNESOTA 5, CLEVELAND 3 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Sunday, September 14.

Batting stars:  Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-4 with a home run (his eleventh), a stolen base (his fourth), and three RBIs.  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4 with two doubles.

Pitching stars:  Eric Milton pitched five innings, giving up two runs on five hits and no walks and striking out two.  Juan Rincon pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  LaTroy Hawkins struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Eddie Guardado struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Travis Hafner was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his twelfth) and a double.  Jody Gerut was 2-for-4 with a home run, his twenty-second.  Victor Martinez was 2-for-4.  Cliff Lee struck out seven in seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and a walk.

The game:  Each team got a two-out double in the second, but neither team scored until the fourth, when each team did.  In the top of the fifth Pierzynski doubled and scored on a two-out single by Michael Ryan.  The Indians came back with two in the bottom of the inning, as Martinez singled and Hafner followed with a two-run homer.  The Twins went up 3-2 in the sixth when Shannon Stewart singled and Mientkiewicz hit a two-run homer.  Cleveland again came back in the bottom of the inning, with Gerut hitting a home run to tie it 3-3.

Back-to-back hit-by-pitches gave the Twins two on with none out in the eighth.  A bunt moved the runners to second and third.  A fielder's choice resulted in a man thrown out at the plate and men at first and third with two out, but Mientkiewicz came through with a single to put the Twins up 4-3.  The Twins got an insurance run in the ninth when Corey Koskie singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Dustan Mohr's single.  The Indians got only one hit in the last three innings and the game went to the Twins.

WP:  Rincon (5-6).  LP:  Danys Baez (2-9).  S:  Guardado (36).

Notes:  Michael Cuddyer was at third base in place of Koskie.  Koskie came in for defense in the eighth.  Stewart was in left with Ryan in right.  Mohr was in center in place of Torii Hunter.  Hunter came in to play center in the seventh, with Mohr moving to right and Ryan coming out of the game.

I wonder if Ryan was injured, possibly in a collision with Mohr.  He was removed after the first out of the seventh inning, which is an odd time to make a defensive substitution.  That first out is recorded, at b-r.com's play-by-play, as "Flyball: RF-CF (CF-RF)".  I don't know what that means, exactly, but it certainly sounds odd.  Ryan played the next day, so if he was injured it wasn't serious.

There was one other substitution.  Jacque Jones pinch-hit for Luis Rivas in the eighth.  Denny Hocking then pinch-ran for Jones and remained in the game at second base.  I wouldn't have thought of Hocking being faster than Jones, although I wouldn't have thought of him as being much slower, either.  Perhaps Jones was still dealing with a minor injury.

Ryan was 1-for-2 and was batting .407.  Stewart was 1-for-4 and was batting .312.  Mientkiewicz raised his average to .308.  Pierzynski went up to .303.  Jones was 0-for-1 and was batting .302.

This was Milton's first start of the season.  He had missed the entire year up to this point with a knee injury, making just one start in Fort Myers prior to this game.  Given that, he did very well in this game.

Hawkins lowered his ERA to 1.88.  Guardado's ERA went down to 2.85.

It's interesting that, with only fourteen games remaining in a pennant race, Ron Gardenhire held out two of his starters and used a starting pitcher who had not pitched all season.  But it worked.

The White Sox and Royals again both won, so the standings remained unchanged.

Record:  The Twins were 80-69, tied for first in the American League Central with Chicago, 3.5 games ahead of third-place Kansas City.

 

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Forty-seven

CLEVELAND 4, MINNESOTA 3 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Friday, September 12.

Batting stars:  Cristian Guzman was 2-for-3 with a double.  Shannon Stewart was 2-for-5 with a double.  Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-5.  Torii Hunter was 1-for-2 with a two-run homer (his twenty-fourth) and two walks.

Pitching stars:  Juan Rincon pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.  J. C. Romero pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  C. C. Sabathia pitched 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on six hits and four walks and striking out six.  Travis Hafner was 2-for-3.  Alex Escobar was 2-for-4 with a stolen base.  Coco Crisp was 2-for-4.  Jhonny Peralta was 1-for-2 with a three-run homer (his fourth) and a hit-by-pitch.

The game:  Stewart led off the game with a double, but never moved off second base.  Well, he went to the outfield when the half-inning was over, but you know what I mean.  The Indians put men on second and third with one out in the third, but did not score, so it remained scoreless through three.

The Twins started the scoring in the fourth when Matthew LeCroy walked and Hunter hit a two-run homer.  It stayed 2-0 until the fifth, when Victor Martinez walked, Halfner singled, and Peralta hit a three-run homer to make it 3-2 Cleveland.  It went to 4-2 in the sixth when Escobar singled, stole second, and scored on a Martinez single.

The Twins put two on with two out in the seventh but stranded them.  In the ninth Michael Ryan led off with a pinch-hit single, went to second on a passed ball, and scored on Stewart's single.  They tying run was on base with none out, but a double play and a fly out ended the game.

WP:  Sabathia (13-8).  LP:  Kenny Rogers (11-8).  S:  David Riske (7).

Notes:  Stewart was in left with Dustan Mohr in right and Jacque Jones on the bench.  Lew Ford pinch-hit for Luis Rivas in the seventh, with Denny Hocking going to second base.  Jones pinch-hit for Mohr in the eighth and stayed in the game in right field.  Ryan pinch-hit for Cristian Guzman in the ninth.

Ryan was 1-for-1 and was batting .400.  Ford walked in his plate appearance and was batting .333.  Stewart was batting .313.  Mientkiewicz was batting .306.  A. J. Pierzynski was 0-for-4 and was batting .303.  Jones was 0-for-1 and was batting .302.

Rogers pitched well other than the three-run homer, but his line was 5.2 innings, four runs, six hits, one walk, three strikeouts.

Jesse Orosco relieved Rogers in the sixth and threw one pitch.  He hit Hafner with it and came out of the game.  His ERA remained 7.47.

Danys Baez was the Cleveland closer most of the season, but he lost the job to Riske in mid-August.

This was Sabathia's third season.  He made his first all-star team and had his first ERA under four.  He would have better seasons, but he was a good pitcher at this point, and it's certainly no disgrace to lose to him.  The trouble, of course, is that there were only about two weeks left in the season, and every game was important in the pennant race.

The White Sox and Royals both lost, so while the Twins missed a chance to gain ground they didn't lose any, either.  And as important as the games are this late in the season, you still can't win them all.

Record:  The Twins were 78-69, tied for first with Chicago in the American League Central.  They were 3.5 games ahead of third-place Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Forty-six

MINNESOTA 5, CHICAGO 2 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Thursday, September 11.

Batting stars:  A. J. Pierzynski was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs.  Torii Hunter was 2-for-4.

Pitching star:  Brad Radke pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on nine hits and no walks and striking out five.  He threw 126 pitches, the most he would throw in a game all season.

Opposition stars:  Jose Valentin was 2-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-fourth) and a stolen base (his sixth).  Frank Thomas was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fortieth.

The game:  Thomas homered in the first inning to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.  The Twins came back with a big third.  Jacque Jones and Pierzynski singled and Cristian Guzman was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with none out.  Shannon Stewart then hit a three-run double-plus-error and Denny Hocking followed with a sacrifice fly, giving the Twins a 4-1 lead.

Chicago opened the fifth with two singles but did not score.  The Twins added a run in the sixth when Pierzynski doubled and scored on a Hocking single.  The White Sox added a run in the ninth on Valentin's homer, but did not threaten to get back into the game.

WP:  Radke (12-10).  LP:  Esteban Loiaza (19-7).  S:  None.

Notes:  Hocking was at second base in place of Luis Rivas.  Stewart was in left and Jones in right.  The Twins made no in-game substitutions.

Stewart was 1-for-5 and was batting .312.  PIerzynski was batting .306.  Doug Mientkiewicz was 1-for-3 and was batting .305.  Jones was 1-for-4 and was batting .302.

Radke had not walked a man in his last two starts (16 innings).  He walked just four in six August starts (38.1 innings).  For the season he walked just 28 in 33 starts (212.1 innings).  That may not be Carlos Silva, but it's pretty good.

Loaiza pitched seven innings for Chicago, giving up five runs on seven hits and one walk and striking out nine.  He pitched very well other than in the third inning, but of course the third inning counts just as much as the other eight.

The win was the Twins' second in a row.  It gave them a split in the series and moved them back into a tie for first.  The two teams would meet again for three games the next week, bur first the Twins had four games in Cleveland while the White Sox would go to Boston for three.  The Royals lost to Cleveland and were starting to fall out of the race.

Record:  The Twins were 78-68, tied for first with Chicago in the American League Central.  They were 3.5 games ahead of third-place Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twenty-five

MINNESOTA 8, CLEVELAND 2 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Tuesday, August 19.

Batting stars:  Jacque Jones was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a stolen base, his twelfth.  Cristian Guzman was 3-for-4 with two runs.  Luis Rivas was 2-for-5 with a triple.  Shannon Stewart was 2-for-5.  Matthew LeCroy was 1-for-5 with a three-run homer, his fourteenth.  Dustan Mohr was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his ninth.

Pitching stars:  Johan Santana struck out ten in eight innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and a walk.  He threw 100 pitches.  Grant Balfour struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition star:  Casey Blake was 4-for-4 with a two-run homer (his fifteenth) and a double.

The game:  It was scoreless for four innings, and the only serious threat came from the Indians.  They put men on first and third with none out in the fourth and had the bases loaded with two out, but did not score.  Cleveland got on the board in the fifth, however, when Coco Crisp hit a two-out triple and Blake followed with a two-run homer.

The Twins bounced right back in the top of the sixth.  Guzman singled and scored on a Rivas triple.  Corey Koskie was intentionally walked, but the strategy backfired as LeCroy hit a three-run homer to put the Twins ahead 4-2.  The Twins added another run in the seventh when Guzman got an infield single, went to third on an error, and scored on Stewart's infield single.  They put it out of reach in the eighth.  Doubles by Jones and A. J. Pierzynski plated one run and Mohr hit a two-run homer, making the score 8-2.

WP:  Santana (7-3).  LP:  Jason Davis (7-10).  S:  None.

Notes:  LeCroy was again at first base in place of Doug Mientkiewicz.  Stewart was in left, Mohr in right, and Jones at DH.  Denny Hocking pinch-ran for Koskie in the ninth and stayed in the game at third base.  Michael Ryan pinch-hit for Jones in the ninth.

Ryan was down to .500.  Stewart was batting .311.  Jones was batting .311.

Santana's ERA dropped to 2.92  Balfour went to 2.89.  It was Balfour's first game since July 12.

The Blake home run produced the only earned runs Santana had given up in his last three starts.  He had gone eight innings in each.  In 24 innings he had given up 14 hits, 5 walks, and struck out 23.  It appeared that he had shown he belonged in the starting rotation.

During the off-day on August 18, the Twins had dropped back to third place.  With this win, however, it was shaping up to be quite a three-team race.  A race of mediocrity, some might say, but a race nonetheless.

Record:  The Twins were 64-61, in third place, 1.5 games behind Kansas City.  They were a half game back of second-place Chicago.

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Sixteen

MINNESOTA 8, DETROIT 4 IN DETROIT (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Saturday, August 9.

Batting stars:  Jacque Jones was 3-for-5 with two doubles, two runs, and three RBIs.  Corey Koskie was 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs.  A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Torii Hunter was 2-for-5 with a home run (his twenty-first), a stolen base (his fifth), and four RBIs.

Pitching star:  Juan Rincon pitched two shutout innings, giving up three hits and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Alex Sanchez was 3-for-5 with a stolen base, his thirty-fourth.  Warren Morris was 2-for-3.  Brandon Inge was 2-for-4.  Bobby Higginson was 1-for-5 with a home run (his ninth) and three RBIs.  Matt Roney pitched five innings, giving up two runs on three hits and three walks and striking out one.

The game:  It was all Tigers early.  In the first Sanchez singled, stole second, was bunted to third, and scored on a ground out.  In the third Inge singled, was bunted to second, and scored on a Sanchez single.  Later in the inning Higginson hit a two-run homer to make it 4-0 Detroit.

The Twins started their comeback in the fourth.  Doug Mientkiewicz doubled and Koskie walked.  RBI singles by Jones and Pierzynski cut the lead to 4-2.  In the sixth Koskie singled, Jones doubled, and Hunter delivered a two-run single to tie it 4-4.

The Tigers had two singles and a walk in the seventh, had men on first and third in the eighth, and got two singles in the ninth, but could not bring a run across.  In the tenth Mientkiewicz and Koskie walked, Jones hit a two-run double, and Hunter hit a two-run homer, putting the Twins up 8-4.  Detroit got a single in the tenth, but that's all.

WP:  Rincon (3-4).  LP:  Chris Mears (0-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Stewart was in left, Michael Restovich in right, and Jones at DH.  Dustan Mohr pinch-ran for Jones in the tenth.

Stewart was 1-for-6 and was batting .318.  Restovich was 0-for-2 with three walks and was batting .313.  Jones was batting .309.  Pierzynski was batting .304.  Koskie was batting .303.

Brad Radke started for the Twins and pitched 7.1 innings.  He gave up four runs on eight hits and a walk and struck out three.  His ERA was 5.01.

LaTroy Hawkins retired the only man he faced to drop his ERA to 2.37.

The Twins finally got two games above .500.  Tom Kelly used to say that you can't talk about the pennant race until you get above .500.  We'll see if the Twins could stay above .500 and get into the pennant race.  Although really, given that no one in the division was playing all that well, they were already in the pennant race.

Record:  The Twins were 59-57, in third place in the American League Central, 2.5 games behind Kansas City.  They were two games behind third-place Chicago.

Random Rewind: 1962, Game One Hundred Thirty-two

KANSAS CITY 12, MINNESOTA 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, August 24.

Batting stars:  Zoilo Versalles was 2-for-4.  Bernie Allen was 1-for-3 with a walk.

Pitching stars:  Georges Maranda struck out three in 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.  Frank Sullivan pitched two scoreless innings, giving up three walks and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Orlando Pena pitched a complete game, giving up one run on five hits and five walks and striking out three.  Billy Bryan was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his second) and a walk.  Norm Siebern was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and two runs.  Jerry Lumpe was 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs, and two RBIs.  Bobby Del Greco was 2-for-4 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and two runs. Gino Cimoli was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs, and four RBIs.  Wayne Causey was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.  Ed Charles was 2-for-6.

The game:  Del Greco led off the game with a base hit, went to second on a passed ball, and scored on Lumpe's single.  The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the second, but nothing came of it.

Then came the third.   Del Greco and Charles singled.  An error brought home a run.  Siebern had a two-run double.  That chased starter Bill Pleis and brought in Lee Stange.  He gave up a two-run single to Cimoli, a single to George Alusik, an RBI single to Causey, and a three-run homer by Bryan.  The first eight batter reached base, all scored, and it was 9-0 Athletics.

That was pretty much it.  The Twins scored in the fifth when Versalles singled, Don Mincher walked, a force out put men on first and third, and Vic Power hit a sacrifice fly.  Kansas City added three in the eighth when Lumpe and Siebern singled, Cimoli hit a two-run double, and Causey had an RBI single.

WP:  Pena (2-1).  LP:  Pleis (2-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  The Twins used their standard lineup at the time.  Jerry Zimmerman caught the ninth to give Earl Battey a break.  MincherJohnny Goryl, and George Banks were used as pinch-hitters for various pitchers.

Rollins was the only batter over .300, at .308.  He would finish at .298.  He was a good batter in 1962 and 1963, still fairly good in 1964, but then just stopped hitting.  I think injuries may have been involved, but I really don't remember.  He would continue to play through 1970, but he really was not very good for his last several seasons.

Pleis lasted just two innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits and one walk and striking out three.  This was the last of four starts he would make in 1962 and one of only ten in his career.  He did have some good years out of the bullpen.

Orlando Pena had a very long career, pitching through 1975, when he was forty-one.  He was a reliever in 1958-1960, a starter through 1964, and then went back to the bullpen to stay, other than an occasional spot start.  If I had more time I'd give more of a biography--it looks like it would be fairly interesting.  He pitched for eight different teams.  It doesn't look like he was ever a team's main short reliever, but he was usually an important part of the bullpen.  His career numbers:  58-77, 3.71, 40 saves, 1.27 WHIP.  Nothing great, but not too shabby, either.  He appeared in 427 games and pitched 1202 innings.  A very respectable career.

The Twins were in a pennant race in 1962, so a loss to the lowly Athletics was costly.  It was their third straight loss, but they would go on to win eight of their next ten and ten of their next thirteen.

Record:  The Twins were 79-52, in third place in the American League, 5.5 games behind New York.  They would finish 91-71, in second place, five games behind New York.

The Athletics were 60-70, in ninth place in the American League, seventeen games behind New York.  They would finish 72-90, in ninth place, twenty-four games behind New York.

Game 155: royals @ twins

What a difference a week makes.

Last week, as I wrote the game log, I was deeply concerned about the potential for a sweep -- and not the awesome kind we got treated to. The rotation is in tatters, all of the power hitters hurt or swinging wildly. We were going into a doubleheader armed with nothing but bullpen games.

And then, Saturday happened.

Now, it's all about getting ready for the Yankees. Wherever we end up facing them, the name of the game is putting this team in the best position to make it to the ALCS.

To that end, Berrios gets his penultimate warmup start tonight. I'm not expecting that he'll go very deep into the game. I'd hope that after six, they've got a big enough lead that they can give guys like Alcala and Hildenberger some face time.

They take on a Royals team that (shy of Soler) has basically folded for the year. The first two games have gone largely according to plan. Let's press on toward that sweep and, dare I say it, 103 wins.

Game 141: Division Chasers at Division Leaders

Last night's game felt special. Cleveland lost early in the day. There was a chance to extend the lead. Things weren't working amazingly for the offense, but they did enough, and the pitching really stepped up. It had the feel of a team that knew what they had to do, and just executing. And then that final play... Winning a game on a memorable play like that... it seems like the kind of thing you see from the teams that are putting the pressure on others, not dealing with it themselves.

And tonight, the Twins get to apply that pressure directly. With a 6.5 game lead and just 22 to play, Cleveland is running out of room fast. Every win the Twins rack up this weekend further dents the Indians' chances to make to playoffs. It's a stark difference from the last time Cleveland left town, having tied up the division. Two very different directions for the clubs, and now it feels like the Twins can play loose and easy, and let their game be what it is.

I'm looking forward to a great weekend series, and hopefully, maybe even a Francisco Lindor concession speech.

Game 123: twins @ rangers

Okay, that's more like it.

This is pretty clearly going to be a dogfight to the end of the season, but last weekend, things were looking pretty dire.

They still need to tighten up just about every part of their game (the defense,in particular, has looked really sloppy these last few weeks), but now that the Twins are taking on lesser teams, and now that the Clevelanders are taking on actual contenders, this thing looks doable.

Berrios takes on Jurado tonight. This SHOULD be a winnable game. Let's make it happen.

I'm taking MarWIN.

Game 122: Twins at Rangers

What is there to say at this point of the season? It's a beautiful August evening, the Twins are in a pennant race, we've got a few weeks left of summer (today's discussion notwithstanding), and the weekend is here. Crack open a cold one, crank up the 'CCO, find some outdoor project to tinker on, or neighbor to chat with, and listen to the Twins bring another W home.

This is the good life.

This is why we're here.