Tag Archives: personal catcher

1991 Rewind: Game Fifty


Date:  Sunday, June 2.

Batting stars:  Greg Gagne was 3-for-5 with a double.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a home run (his sixth), a double, a walk, and two RBIs.  Lenny Webster was 1-for-2 with a double and two walks.

Pitching star:  Scott Erickson pitched 8.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk and striking out eight.  He threw 119 pitches.

Opposition stars:  Jim Eisenreich was 3-for-4 with a double.  Luis Aquino pitched four shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk and striking out two.

The game:  The Twins scored exactly one run in each of the first four innings.  In the first, Chuck Knoblauch tripled followed by a Puckett double.  In the second, Mike Pagliarulo doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Gagne's single.  In the third, Puckett homered.

The Royals got on the board in the bottom of the third, as Terry Shumpert walked, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Kirk Gibson's single.  Webster homered in the fourth to make the score 4-1.

And that was it.  Erickson was in control after that, retiring ten straight batters at one point and not allowing a man past second base.  Rick Aguilera came on with one out in the ninth to complete the game.

WP:  Erickson (8-2).  LP:  Tom Gordon (4-3).  S:  Aguilera (11).

Notes:  Pedro Munoz replaced Dan Gladden in left.  Gagne was the leadoff batter.  Gene Larkin was in right field.  Gladden was used as a pinch-runner for Larkin in the eighth and went to left field, with Munoz moving to right.  Al Newman pinch-ran for Pagliarulo, also in the eighth inning, and remained in the game at third base.  With the injury to Junior OrtizWebster was called up and made his 1991 debut.  He had been up briefly in 1989 and 1990, getting a total of twenty-six at-bats, but his home run in this game was the first of his major league career.  It's interesting that Tom Kelly continued to use someone other than Brian Harper to catch Erickson.

Webster, after his debut, was batting .500.  Puckett raised his average to .335.  Gagne raised his average to .319.  Erickson lowered his ERA to 1.58.  Aguilera dropped his ERA to 1.82.

Despite the fact that Erickson was only twenty-three and in his first full year in the majors, TK was not hesitant to leave him out there.  This was his eleventh start, and he had thrown over one hundred pitches in eight of them.  In six of them he was over one hundred ten and four he had one hundred twenty or more.  His high was 134 on April 16 and his low was 84 in his next start on April 21.  His average in those eleven starts was one hundred ten.

Eisenreich apparently enjoyed playing against his former team.  For his career, he batted .341/.364/.514 in 179 at-bats against the Twins.  The only team against whom he had a higher career OPS was the Dodgers, whom he destroyed to the tune of .405/.468/.620 in 205 at-bats.  He hit seven homers against the Dodgers and no more than four against any other club.  In 1991 Eisenreich batted .423/.444/.615 against Minnesota.  Obviously, he did not play against the Dodgers that year.

The Twins had finally pulled back up to .500.  Could they get above .500?  Could they stay there?  We shall see.

Record:  The Twins were 25-25, in fifth place in the American League West, 4.5 games behind Oakland.  They were one game ahead of sixth-place Chicago and 1.5 games behind fourth-place Seattle.

1991 Rewind: Game Thirty-five


Date:  Friday, May 17.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs.  Junior Ortiz was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a walk.  Pedro Munoz was 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk, and two RBIs.  Kent Hrbek was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.  Chili Davis was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Scott Erickson pitched 6.1 innings, giving up one run on six hits and five walks and striking out three.  Steve Bedrosian pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Tony Phillips was 1-for-3 with two walks and a stolen base, his fourth.  Mickey Tettleton was 1-for-3 with a walk.

The game:  Davis and Munoz singled to open the second inning.  A double play looked like it might kill the rally, but Ortiz came through with an RBI double to put the Twins up 1-0.  Detroit tied it in the bottom of the second on singles by Tettleton and Dave Bergman and a Travis Fryman sacrifice fly.

It stayed 1-1 until the fifth, when the Twins took control of the game.  Ortiz led off with a double, followed by a Greg Gagne RBI single.  Dan Gladden then hit into a fly ball double play, with Gagne thrown out trying to advance to second, and it looked like that might be it for the inning.  But Chuck Knoblauch doubled, Puckett singled, and Hrbek doubled, leading to a three-run inning and a 4-1 Twins lead.  The Tigers tried to respond in the bottom of the inning, opening with singles by Phillips and Lou Whitaker, but a pair of pop ups, a walk, and a fly out stranded three runners.

The Twins scored a run in the seventh on three walks and a passed ball (Twins Baseball!).  The Detroit again tried to respond, loading the bases with one out on a single, a hit batsman, and a walk, but a pop up again ended the threat.

The Twins put it away in the ninth.  With one out, Puckett walked, singles by Hrbek and Davis plated one run, and a triple by Munoz brought home two more to bring the total to 8-1.

WP:  Erickson (6-2).  LP:  Bill Gullickson (4-2).  S:  Bedrosian (2).

Notes:  In memory, Shane Mack was the starting right fielder for the Twins all year, but as we've already seen that's not how it was.  He began the season in center, and then moved to the bench for a while.  Munoz was the starting right fielder in this game.  We'll see when Mack actually took over the right fielder job.

With Erickson pitching, personal catcher Ortiz was behind the plate.

Munoz raised his average to .333.  Knoblauch was 1-for-5 and was batting .315.  Davis raised his average to .308.  Puckett went up to .306.  Erickson's ERA went to 1.44.  Bedrosian lowered his ERA to 2.82.

Scott Leius was used as a pinch-hitter and stayed in the game to play third.  He went 0-for-1 with a walk and was batting .156.  I didn't remember that Leius got off to such a poor start.  Pagliarulo was batting .241 by this point--I wonder if there were people thinking Pagliarulo should be the full-time third baseman.  If so, those people were wrong.  Leius would start hitting, but even at this point, he had a .400 on-base percentage because he was drawing walks.  His OPS was .713, compared to Pagliarulo's .540.

Ortiz had just five doubles in 1991, making it even more odd that two of them would come in the same game.  He would have another on the last day of May, and then not another one until August 23.  His final double of the season came on September 2.  He also somehow had a triple on July 30 in Detroit.  For his career he had 71 doubles, with a high of 13 for Cleveland in 1993.  He had four triples, never having more than one per season.

The walk to Davis was an intentional walk, his fifth intentional walk of the season.  He would end the year with thirteen.

The Twins were now 5-1 against the Tigers.  The would go 8-4 against them for the season.

Record:  The Twins were 18-17, tied for fifth with California, but just two percentage points behind Chicago.  They trailed first-place Seattle by three games.

1991 Rewind: Game Eight


Date:  Tuesday, April 16.

Batting stars:  None.  The Twins had five hits, all singles.

Pitching stars:  Scott Erickson pitched 7.2 innings, giving up three runs on nine hits and five walks and striking out six.

Opposition stars:  Brian Holman pitched a complete game shutout, giving up five hits and two walks and striking out three.  Ken Griffey, Jr. was 2-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base.  Alvin Davis was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Jeff Schaefer was 2-for-4.  Pete O'Brien was 1-for-4 with a home run.

The game:  Chili Davis and Mike Pagliarulo opened the second with singles, but Davis was picked off second.  Shane Mack followed with a single, but the Twins did not get anyone past second.  Three of the Twins' five hits came in the same inning, but they still did not score and would not threaten again.

The Mariners got on the board in the third.  They had one-out singles by Schaefer and Harold Reynolds and two-out singles by Griffey, Jr., and Edgar Martinez to take a 2-0 lead.  They added a run in the eighth on O'Brien's two-out home run.  And that was that.

WP:  Holman (1-1).  LP:  Erickson (0-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Randy Bush was in left field, replacing Dan Gladden.  Junior Ortiz was behind the plate, replacing Brian Harper.  Al Newman was at short, replacing Greg Gagne.  Shane Mack remained in center, with Kirby Puckett in right.

As I recall, Ortiz served as Erickson's catcher in 1991.

Puckett was 1-for-4 and was batting .387.  Chuck Knoblauch was 0-for-4 and was batting .321.  Erickson's ERA was 2.45.

Ortiz was 0-for-2 with a walk and was 0-for-9 on the season, so his batting average was the same as his uniform number.  Kent Hrbek was 0-for-4 and was batting .100.  Mack was 1-for-3 to raise his average to .150.  Bush was 1-for-4 to raise his average to .182.

I hadn't remembered that the Twins got off to such a slow start.  They were in a stretch of "when we hit we can't pitch and when we pitch we can't hit".  As you can see, they had a lot of good batters who were not hitting.  They also had some pitchers who were not pitching well.  The schedule didn't do them any favors, either, not so much because of the teams but because of the travel.  Train in Florida, open with three in Oakland, come home for three with California, then back to the west coast for three in Seattle and three in California.  That's a lot of travel and a lot of time-zone changes.  Yes, they're professional ballplayers and they have to deal with it, but they're still human beings, and that's not easy.

Brian Holman was a fairly good pitcher for four seasons.  He came up with Montreal at mid-season of 1988 and went 4-8, but with an ERA of 3.23.  He was traded to Seattle in late May of 1989 with Gene Harris and Randy Johnson for a player to be named later (Mike Campbell) and Mark Langston.  He was in the Mariners rotation through 1991 and went 32-35, 3.73 over 80 starts.  He was only twenty-six at that point and looked like he would be around for a long time.  Unfortunately, he tore his rotator cuff and would never pitch again.  He went through a lot of rehab, but finally gave up in 1994.  He does not seem to have let it get him down, however, as he has had a successful career as a financial advisor, a motivational speaker, and a high school baseball coach.

Record:  The Twins were 2-6, tied for sixth with Seattle in the American League West, five games behind the White Sox.