NEW YORK 2, MINNESOTA 1 IN NEW YORK
Date: Saturday, August 5.
Batting stars: Zoilo Versalles was 1-for-2 with two walks. Bob Allison was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Pitching star: Jack Kralick pitched an eight-inning complete game, giving up two runs on nine hits and three walks and striking out two.
Opposition stars: Jim Coates pitched a complete game, giving up one run on four hits and five walks and striking out three. Elston Howard was 3-for-4. Bill Skowron was 2-for-2 with a double and a walk. Mickey Mantle was 2-for-4 with a triple.
The game: The Twins got on the board in the first inning. Versalles led off the game with a walk. With one out, Harmon Killebrew and Allison had consecutive singles, putting the Twins up 1-0.
That was as good as it would get. The Yankees tied it in the second. Howard singled and scored on Skowron's two-out double. New York threatened to take the lead in the fifth, putting men on second and third with one out, but Bobby Richardson lined into a double play. Each team got two on in the sixth, but neither scored.
The Yankees took the lead in the eighth. With one out, Roger Maris singled and Mantle tripled, making it 2-1. The Twins threatened to tie it in the ninth. Joe Altobelli had a pinch-hit triple and Ted Lepcio walked. But Bill Tuttle popped up to second, and the game was over.
WP: Coates (7-3). LP: Kralick (10-7). S: None.
Notes: The only variation from the standard lineup is Lepcio, who was at second base in place of Billy Martin. Lepcio appears to have replaced Martin as the regular second baseman from late July to mid-August, with Martin eventually getting the job back. Both were veteran infielders at the end of their careers, and offensively there's not a lot to choose between them. Martin hit for a higher average but with less power in 1961, but for their careers their slash lines are pretty similar.
Julio Becquer pinch-hit for Jim Lemon in the ninth. Altobelli pinch-hit for Earl Battey in the ninth. In both cases it was a left-hander pinch-hitting for a right-hander to face the right-handed Coates.
This was Altobelli's third game as a Twin. All were as a pinch-hitter. He would make his first start the next day, but would be replaced in the second inning, presumably due to a minor injury. He would finally play his first full game on August 12.
Other than Altobelli, who was 1-for-2, the leading average on the Twins belonged to Killebrew, who was batting .313. He would finish at .288, which was the highest average in his career for a full season. Lenny Green was batting .302. He would finish at .285.
From 1960-1964, Kralick was a fine pitcher. He made the all-star team in 1964, when he was with Cleveland. After that, he fell apart--one suspects an injury may have been involved, but I really don't know. His career was over in 1967, when he was in a bad car accident that left him with double vision. It did not clear up for over a year, and by the time it did he decided to move on with his life. But for five years, he was a pitcher any team would've been happy to have in its rotation.
Jim Coates had about three years where he was a good pitcher. He pitched very well out of the bullpen for the Yankees in 1959, then had a couple of good seasons in which he both started and relieved. He made the all-star teams in 1960, when he went 13-3 despite an ERA of 4.28. He struggled after that, but came back to have some decent partial seasons with the Angels in 1965-1966. One gets the impression that when he was on, he was really on, and when he was not, he was really not. For his career, he was 43-22, 4.00, 1.37 WHIP in 683.1 innings (247 games).
It might be fun to do a rewind of the 1961 Twins, just to learn more about the first Twins team. They weren't all that good, as is shown below, but there are a lot of interesting players.
It also might be fun to do the 1924 Washington Senators, the Twins' predecessor. There'd be all kinds of players to learn about on that team.
Record: The Twins were 46-60, in ninth place in the American League, twenty-three games behind New York. They would finish 70-90, in seventh place, thirty-eight games behind New York.
The Yankees were 69-37, in first place in the American League, 1.5 games ahead of Detroit. They would finish 109-53, in first place, eight games ahead of Detroit.