Tag Archives: pitchers as pinch-runners

1970 Rewind: Game One Hundred One


Date:  Monday, August 3.

Batting stars:  Danny Thompson was 3-for-4 with a double.  Rich Reese was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Jim Perry pitched eight innings, giving up one run on five hits and no walks and striking out six.  Tom Hall struck out three in a scoreless inning, giving up a walk.

Opposition stars:  Jerry McNertney was 2-for-3.  Marty Pattin pitched an eight inning complete game, giving up two runs on seven hits and four walks and striking out five.

The game:  There was no score until the fifth, when Roberto Pena singled, stole second, and scored on McNertney's single.  The Twins tied it in the sixth when Thompson hit a one-out single, Harmon Killebrew drew a two-out walk, and Reese followed with an RBI double.

The Twins wasted George Mitterwald's leadoff double in the seventh.  In the eighth, however, Thompson led off with a double and scored on a Reese two-out RBI single to give the Twins their first lead of the game.  Hall came in to retire the Brewers in the ninth and preserve the victory.

WP:  Perry (16-9).

LP:  Pattin (7-9).

S:  Hall (3).

Notes:  Thompson remained at second base in place of Rod Carew.  Jim Holt was in left in place of Brant Alyea.  Jim Kaat pinch-ran for Mitterwald in the seventh, with Tom Tischinski going in to catch in the eighth.

Tony Oliva was 1-for-4 and was batting .326.  Perry was 0-for-2 and was batting .306.  Killebrew was 0-for-2 and was batting .304.  Cesar Tovar was 0-for-4 and was batting .301.  Hall had an ERA of 2.71.

Without going back through the box scores, I couldn't find out how many times Kaat was used as a pinch-runner.  It was more than a few times, however.

It's interesting that Bill Rigney went with Hall to close out a 2-1 game.  First, it's surprising to me that Perry didn't finish the game--he had given up just a single in the seventh and had retired the side in order in the eighth.  Having decided to go to the pen, the choice of Hall was probably influenced by the fact that Ron Perranoski and Stan Williams had each pitched in three consecutive games.  It certainly worked out.

Pattin threw eleven complete games in 1970.  That was only good for tenth in the league.  Mike Cuellar led the league with twenty-one.

Thompson had six multi-hit games in his last seven starts.  He went 14-for-27 in those starts and raised his average from .200 to .282.

Record:  The Twins were 65-36, in first place in the American League West, 7.5 games ahead of California, which had regained second place from Oakland.

1970 Rewind: Game Ninety-seven


Date:  Thursday, July 30.

Batting star:  Brant Alyea was 1-for-1 with two RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Jim Perry struck out seven in seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits and a walk.  Tom Hall struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Roy Foster was 2-for-4.  Vada Pinson was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eleventh.  Steve Hargan pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks and striking out five.

The game:  There were no baserunners until the bottom of the third.  Eddie Leon and Larry Brown led off the inning with singles and an error brought home a run.  Foster singled home a run later in the inning and it was 2-0 Indians.

The Twins got their first baserunner in the fourth when Cesar Tovar reached on an error, but he was quickly erased by a double play.  Pinson homered in the seventh to make it 3-0, and Hargan still had a no-hitter going at that point.

Finally, with two out in the eighth, George Mitterwald singled for the Twins' first hit.  Leo Cardenas followed with a single, and a wild pitch moved runners to first and second.  Charlie Manuel drew a pinch-hit walk, loading the bases, and Alyea delivered a two-run pinch-hit single to cut the margin to 3-2.

But that was as good as it got.  Tovar grounded out to end the inning.  Harmon Killebrew drew a two-out walk in the ninth, putting the tying run on base, but Jim Holt popped up to end the game.

WP:  Hargan (5-2).

LP:  Perry (15-9).

S:  None.

Notes:  Holt was in left in place of Alyea.  Frank Quilici was at second in place of Rod Carew.  Manuel pinch-hit for Quilici and Alyea pinch-hit for Perry.  Jim Kaat pinch-ran for Manuel, and Danny Thompson then went to second base.  Dave Boswell pinch-ran for Killebrew in the ninth.  It would be Boswell's last appearance in a major league game in 1970, as he missed the rest of the season due to injury.

Tony Oliva was 0-for-4 and was batting .324.  Perry was 0-for-2 and was batting .317.  Killebrew was 0-for-3 and was batting .307.  Tovar was 0-for-4 and was batting .301.  Hall had an ERA of 2.79.

This was Hargan's sixth start of the season.  He started the season in the bullpen, made two starts, was injured, went back to AAA, and finally came back in mid-July.  This was his second consecutive complete game.  He would throw one more, then go 7.1 in his next start.  He would finish the season with four complete games in his last five starts.  So, out of nineteen starts, he had eight complete games.

Record:  The Twins were 62-35, in first place in the American League West, 6.5 games ahead of California.

1970 Rewind: Game Eighty-two


Date:  Sunday, July 12.

Batting stars:  Tony Oliva was 3-for-4 with a walk.  Cesar Tovar was 2-for-5.  Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer (his twenty-sixth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Jim Kaat pitched 1.2 perfect innings and struck out one.  Stan Williams retired all five men he faced and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Alex Johnson was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Jim Fregosi was 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs, and two RBIs.  Tom Bradley pitched four shutout innings, giving up five hits and two walks and striking out two.

The game:  It started well.  With two out in the top of the first, Oliva walked and Killebrew hit a home run, putting the Twins up 2-0.  Unfortunately, as you can tell by the final score above, those are the only runs the Twins would get.

It held up for a while.  In the fourth, however, Roger Repoz led off with a triple and scored on Fregosi's single.  Johnson walked and Jim Spencer's RBI single tied the score.  Ken McMullen then hit a two-run double, giving the Angels a 4-2 lead.  They scored two more in the fifth when Sandy Alomar walked, Fregosi hit an RBI triple, and Johnson followed with a run-scoring single, making it 6-2 California.

The Twins got two on with two out in the third, but did not get two men on again until there were two out in the eighth.  They had two men on with none out in the ninth, but two of the next three batters fanned and the third lined to short, and the game was over.

WP:  Dave LaRoche (2-0).

LP:  Jim Perry (13-7).

S:   Andy Messersmith (2).

Notes:  Danny Thompson remained at second base in place of Rod Carew.  Jim Holt was in left in place of Brant Alyea.  Tom Tischinski was behind the plate in place of George Mitterwald.  Paul Ratliff pinch-hit for Tischinski in the seventh.  Herman Hill and Rick Renick pinch-hit for pitchers.  Tom Hall pinch-ran for Renick.

Oliva was batting .327.  Killebrew was batting .322.  Tovar was batting .314.  Perry was 0-for-2 and was batting .308.  Williams had an ERA of 1.44.

Tischinski was 0-for-1 and was batting .167.  Hill was 0-for-1 and was batting .105.  Dave Boswell pitched a third of an inning without giving up a run and had an ERA of 6.19.

Twins starter Perry pitched just three innings, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk and striking out two.  Angels starter Tom Murphy pitched just 2.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks and striking out none.

This was the last game before the all-star break, which apparently led Bill Rigney to decide he could use a couple of starters in relief.  Why he didn't instead decide he could use more of his relief pitchers in relief, I don't know.  I especially wonder why he thought it was a good idea to use Boswell in relief, when he'd been dealing with an injury all season.  This was the first time he had pitched since July 4 and he would not pitch again until July 21.  He would make only three more appearances before being shut down for the season.

Hill would be sent back to AAA after this game and would not return until September.

I've said this before, but I still think, in these days of short benches, it would be good to train a couple of pitchers to be pinch-runners.

Messersmith had pitched a complete game two days earlier, on July 10, and then was used as the closer in this game.  He was having a good season as a starter, but he would be sent to the bullpen in mid-August anyway, and continue to pitch well.

The Twins split the series with the Angels.  They missed a chance to really put California away, but there's nothing wrong with a split on the road, and the Twins still went into the all-star break with a solid lead.

Record:  The Twins were 54-28, in first place in the American League West, five games ahead of California.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-three


Date:  Monday, September 2.

Batting stars:  Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs.  Kent Hrbek was 2-for-4 with two runs.  Shane Mack was 1-for-3 with a grand slam, his seventeenth home run.

Pitching stars:  Scott Erickson struck out seven in seven shutout innings, giving up six hits and two walks.  He threw 119 pitches.  Rick Aguilera pitched two perfect innings.

Opposition stars:  Mike Aldrete was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Albert Belle was 2-for-4 with a double.  Alex Cole was 2-for-4 with a walk.

The game:  Despite the final score, it was a pitchers' duel for six innings.  The Indians had a couple of mild threats, getting a two-out double from Carlos Baerga in the first and putting men on first and second with one out in the third.  The Twins did not get a hit until the fourth.  Knoblauch led off with a single and went to third with none out on a pickoff error, but he was thrown out trying to score on a ground ball to short (one assumes it was the contact play).  Cleveland put men on first and second with one out in the fifth and had men on first and third with one out in the sixth, but the latter threat went away when Carlos Martinez was thrown out at home on the back end of a second-and-home double steal.  So the game remained scoreless in the sixth.

The Twins broke through in the seventh.  Randy Bush led off with a walk.  Jarvis Brown pinch-ran and scored from first on Puckett's double.  Hrbek followed with an RBI single.  A pair of productive outs moved Hrbek to third and he scored on an error.  Junior Ortiz delivered an RBI double to put the Twins up 4-0.

The Indians came right back in the eighth.  Steve Bedrosian came in to pitch and walked Baerga.  Belle doubled, and RBI singles by Martinez and Aldrete made it 4-2.  Aguilera came on and got Jeff Manto to hit into a double play, but a run scored to make it 4-3.

Undaunted, the Twins put it away in the bottom of the eighth.  Knoblauch led off with a single and Chili Davis walked.  Puckett delivered an RBI single.  Hrbek laid down a bunt single, loading the bases.  Mack then hit a grand slam, making the score 9-3 and effectively ending the game.  Not literally, of course--Cleveland still batted in the ninth, but they went down in order.

WP:  Erickson (17-6).  LP:  Eric King (5-9).  S:  Aguilera (37).

Notes:  Mack was in left field, with Dan Gladden getting the day off.  Gene Larkin was in right.  Once again Ortiz caught Erickson, with Brian Harper on the bench.  Randy Bush was at DH in place of Davis.  Knoblauch led off, with Bush batting second.

Again, we had plenty of bench players used.  Brown pinch-ran for Bush in the seventh.  Davis pinch-hit for Brown in the eighth.  Al Newman then pinch-ran for Davis in the eighth.  Gladden pinch-ran for Larkin in the seventh and stayed in the game in left field, with Mack moving to right.  Paul Sorrento pinch-hit for Greg Gagne in the eighth.  Scott Leius went into the game at shortstop in the ninth.

Puckett raised his average to .330.  Mack raised his average to .310.  Mike Pagliarulo was 0-for-4 and was batting .300.  Erickson lowered his ERA to 3.08.

Tom Kelly allowing Erickson to throw seven innings and 114 pitches is at least questionable.  Yes, he was pitching well, and yes, it was a scoreless game until the seventh.  But he was obviously still hurting, this was the first good game he'd pitched in a month, and the Twins were in first place by eight games.  Plus, TK gave Gladden and Davis the day off, so he clearly did not consider this a must-win game.  It seems to me a lower pitch-limit would have been indicated, even though such things were not as common back then.

Using three pinch-runners in a game is certainly unusual.  Even back then the only way you could do it is with September call-ups, and with the new limit on September call-ups it may never happen again.  I think if I ran a team, I'd have a couple of pitchers practiced up so they could be used as pinch-runners when necessary.  It used to not be uncommon to use pitchers as pinch-runners--there's no real reason you couldn't do it today.  Yes, there's a chance someone could get hurt, but there's also a chance someone could get hurt running in the outfield before the game.  To me, with today's shorter benches, it makes perfect sense.

Oakland did not play, but the White Sox defeated Kansas City 5-1, so the two teams were once again tied for second place.

Record:  The Twins were 80-53, in first place in the American League West, 8.5 games ahead of Chicago and Oakland.

Toronto continued to lead Detroit by 2.5 games in the East.

1991 Rewind: Game Seventy-seven


Date:  Monday, July 1.

Batting star:  Kirby Puckett was 4-for-5 with a home run (his eleventh) and two RBIs.

Pitching star:  Paul Abbott pitched six innings, giving up one run on three hits and four walks and striking out seven.

Opposition stars:  Carlton Fisk was 2-for-4 with a home run (his sixth), a double, a walk, two runs, and two RBIs.  Lance Johnson was 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs.  Bobby Thigpen pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out one.

The game:  The White Sox got a man to second in each of the first two innings, but there was no score until the fourth.  Dan Pasqua led off with a double, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Johnson's single.  The Twins tied it in the bottom of the fourth when Puckett homered to  make it 1-1.

The Twins took the lead in the sixth.  Greg Gagne walked, went to third on Knoblauch's single, and scored on a Pedro Munoz sacrifice fly.  A wild pitch moved Knoblauch to second and he scored on Puckett's single, making the score 3-1 Twins.

Chicago came back in the eighth.  With two out, Frank Thomas and Dan Pasqua walked.  Rick Aguilera came in and gave up back-to-back doubles to Fisk and Johnson, giving the White Sox a 4-3 lead.  The Twins tied it in the bottom of the eighth when Pedro Munoz drew a one-out walk, Puckett had a bunt single, and Kent Hrbek singled.

The Twins came close in the ninth.  Brian Harper reached on an error, was bunted to second, and went to third on a ground out.  Randy Bush was intentionally walked, but Knoblauch grounded out to end the inning.

Fisk hit a two-out homer in the tenth to give Chicago a 5-4 lead.  The Twins threatened in the bottom of the tenth.  Puckett and Paul Sorrento had one-out singles, putting men on first and third.  But Puckett was thrown out trying to score on a grounder to the pitcher (presumably the contact play) and Scott Leius flied out to end the game.

WP:  Bobby Thigpen (5-2).  LP:  Carl Willis (2-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Shane Mack was again in left field in place of Dan Gladden.  Gene Larkin was in right.

Tom Kelly again made liberal use of his bench.  Munoz replaced Larkin in right field after the first inning, presumably due to injury.  Larkin would not play again until July 18.  Al Newman pinch-hit for Mike Pagliarulo in the seventh and stayed in the game at third base.  Pitcher Mark Guthrie pinch-ran for Kent Hrbek in the eighth, with Sorrento coming into the game to play first.  Leius pinch-ran for Harper in the ninth and stayed in the game at third base, with Newman moving to shortstop and Junior Ortiz going behind the plate.  Bush pinch-hit for Greg Gagne in the ninth.

Puckett raised his average to .332.  Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .324.  Abbott lowered his ERA to 2.88.  Aguilera gave up a run in 1.1 innings, making his ERA 2.92.  Willis gave up a run in one inning, making his ERA 3.21.

This was Sorrento's first game with the Twins this season.  He would be with the Twins for about two weeks, then come back as a September call-up.  He'd had two really good years in AAA Portland and was clearly ready to play in the majors, but with Hrbek at first and Chili Davis at DH there was just no spot for him.  The Twins would trade him to Cleveland at the end of 1992 spring training for Curtis Leskanic and Oscar Munoz, and Sorrento would go on to have a solid career for the Indians and Seattle.

If I ran a ball club, especially with thirteen-man pitching staffs, I would put a couple of my pitchers through baserunning drills on a regular basis, so I could use them as pinch-runners when needed.

The Twins had now lost five out of six.  Would they be able to hold on to first place?

Record:  The Twins were 45-32, in first place in the American League West, two games ahead of California.