MINNESOTA 6, WASHINGTON 5 IN MINNESOTA (10 INNINGS)
Date: Sunday, May 9.
Batting stars: Jim Holt was 3-for-4 with two triples, a walk, and three runs. Tony Oliva was 3-for-4 with two doubles. Leo Cardenas was 1-for-5 with a home run, his second.
Pitching star: Ray Corbin struck out four in four shutout innings of relief, giving up no hits and one walk.
Opposition stars: Tim Cullen was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs. Del Unser was 1-for-5 with a home run, his second.
The game: Unser led off the game with a home run, putting the Senators up 1-0. In the second, walks to Joe Foy and Jim French and a single by Cullen loaded the bases with none out. A 1-2-3 double play kept Washington off the board momentarily, but Denny McLain hit a two-run triple to give the Senators a 3-0 lead.
The Twins came back in the fourth. Cardenas led off the inning with a home run. Oliva doubled, followed by a run-scoring single-plus-error by Harmon Killebrew. Holt then tripled to tie the score and Brant Alyea hit a sacrifice fly to put the Twins up 4-3.
The Senators went back in front in the sixth. French singled, Cullen tripled, and Toby Harrah hit a sacrifice fly to give them a 5-4 advantage. The lead only lasted until the Twins came up to bat, because Holt hit a one-out triple and Alyea followed with his second sacrifice fly to tie it 5-5.
It stayed tied until the tenth. The first two Twins batters went out. Holt and Alyea then singled, putting men on first and third. Rich Reese was intentionally walked to load the bases and bring up George Mitterwald. Mitterwald came through with an RBI single and the Twins won 6-5.
WP: Corbin (3-1). LP: McLain (3-5). S: None.
Notes: Killebrew was at third base in this game, with Reese at first. Killer played both first and third in 1971, with Steve Braun usually playing third when Harmon was at first.
Alyea was in left in place of Cesar Tovar, who missed a few days, presumably with a minor injury or illness. Tom Tischinski caught in place of Mitterwald.
Paul Ray Powell pinch-ran for Oliva in the eighth. He stayed in the game in center field, with Holt moving to right. Charlie Manuel pinch-hit for Tischinski in the ninth, with Mitterwald entering the game to catch in the tenth.
Despite using three pitchers, the Twins did not pinch-hit for any of them. Stan Williams batted twice (0-for-2) and Corbin batted twice (0-for-2).
There were four triples in this game. While I'm sure that's nowhere near a record, it's still a lot of triples, especially when you think of the number of games that can go by where you don't even see one. I imagine the record was set back in the dead ball era, and I'm sure it's a lot more than four, but four is still remarkable.
Holt hit two of the triples. He had three for the season and ten in his career. Cullen had four triples for the season and nine in his career. This was one of two triples McLain had in his career.
Astonishingly, McLain pitched a complete game. I know men were men back then, but it's not exactly like he was mowing them down. He allowed six runs on thirteen hits and two walks. His game score was forty-four. They don't give pitch counts for games that old, but it had to be a lot. It's not like their bullpen was terrible--they had Joe Grzenda (5-2, 1.92), Paul Lindblad (6-4, 2.58), Denny Riddleberger (3-1, 3.23), and Horacio Pina (1-1, 3.59). After his two Cy Young seasons, 1968-1969, McLain fell off sharply and never had a good year again. This was his last full season in the majors, and he went 10-22, 4.28, 1.41 WHIP.
1971 is somewhat analogous to 2011. It's not a perfect analogy by any means, but in both cases you had a team that had been good for a while suddenly fall off a cliff. The Twins had won the division in 1969 and 1970, and as is seen below, were nowhere close in 1971.
Record: The Twins were 15-15, in fourth place in the American League West, five games behind Oakland. They would finish 74-86, in fifth place, 26.5 games behind Oakland.
The Senators were 13-16, in fifth place in the American League East, six games behind Boston. They would finish 63-96, in fifth place, 38.5 games behind Baltimore.