MINNESOTA 4, CALIFORNIA 2 IN CALIFORNIA
Date: Thursday, July 9.
Batting stars: Rick Renick was 1-for-2 with a double and two walks. Leo Cardenas was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer (his seventh). and a walk.
Pitching stars: Bert Blyleven pitched six innings, giving up two runs on six hits and a walk and striking out five. Tom Hall struck out five in three perfect innings.
Opposition stars: Jim Spencer was 2-for-3. Jim Fregosi was 2-for-4. Rudy May pitched 6.1 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and three walks and striking out four.
The game: The Angels scored two in the first inning. Sandy Alomar singled, stole second, and scored on a one-out single by Fregosi. Singles by Alex Johnson and Spencer brought home another run, making it 2-0 California.
The Twins got on the board in the second. Tony Oliva singled and scored from first on Renick's double, cutting the lead to 2-1. The Angels opened the fourth with a pair of singles but did not score, so it was still 2-1 until the seventh. Renick led off with a single and went to second on a ground out, leading to an intentional walk to Cardenas. Rich Reese then delivered a pinch-hit single, tying the score at two.
It stayed 2-2 until the ninth. With two out Hall singled and Cardenas followed with a two-run homer, putting the Twins up 4-2. California did not get a hit after the inning-opening singles in the fourth.
WP: Hall (5-2).
LP: Eddie Fisher (3-3).
Notes: Oliva was 1-for-4 and was batting .330. Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-4 and was batting .316. Cesar Tovar was 1-for-4 and was batting .316. Blyleven had an ERA of 2.45. Hall had an ERA of 2.11.
The Twins started the game with Jim Perry batting third in the lineup and listed as the left fielder, with Bob Allison at first base. As the Twins were on the road, Perry was scheduled to be the third batter of the game. He wasn't, of course--Killebrew pinch-hit for him and stayed in the game at first base, with Allison moving to left. There must be a story behind that, but I have no idea what it is.
Reese pinch-hit for George Mitterwald and Paul Ratliff pinch-hit for Blyleven in the seventh. Both stayed in the game, with Reese going to first (moving Killebrew to third, Renick to left field, and Allison leaving the game) and Ratliff going behind the plate. Herman Hill came in to play center field in the ninth, with Tovar moving to left and Renick leaving the game.
It's interesting that Hall was allowed to bat in the ninth inning of a tie game. He had pitched two perfect innings, and there were two out and none on, both of which probably affected the decision. Also, the Twins didn't have a lot of bench players left at this point. What's even more remarkable is that it paid off, as Hall got a hit in front of Cardenas' home run. Hall was not a good batter--.161/.191/.172 in 192 career at-bats. But he came through here.
It's also interesting that Bill Rigney seems to have stopped pulling Killebrew for defense late in games. Frank Quilici, his usual defensive replacement, was still on the team, and Danny Thompson had taken over second base, so Quilici was still available. But Killebrew was being allowed to stay in the games.
This was the first of a four-game series with the Angels going into the all-star break. A sweep would put a lot of space between the Twins and California. The Twins had won five in a row, ten of eleven, and twelve of fourteen.
Record: The Twins were 53-26, in first place in the American League West, six games ahead of California.