Tag Archives: Ray Miller’s reign of error

Random Rewind: 1986, Game One Hundred Thirty-three


Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 4-for-5 with a two-run homer (his twenty-seventh), a double, a stolen base (his sixteenth), and two runs.  Gary Gaetti was 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs.  Tom Brunansky was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his twenty-first) and a walk.  Steve Lombardozzi was 2-for-4 with two runs.  Al Woods was 1-for-1 with a three-run homer.

Pitching stars:  Mike Smithson pitched seven innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and no walks and striking out six.  Roy Lee Jackson retired all four batters he faced.

Opposition stars:  Robin Yount was 3-for-5 with a home run, his fifth.  Jim Gantner was 2-for-4.  Ernie Riles was 2-for-4 with a double.  Bill Schroeder was 1-for-1 with a two-run homer, his fourth.  Mike Birkbeck pitched three shutout innings of relief, giving up two hits and two walks and striking out two.

The game:  Yount led off the game with a home run, but the Twins took over after that.  In the bottom of the first, Puckett singled, stole second, and scored on Gaetti's single to tie it at one.  Brunansky then hit a single-plus-error that scored Gaetti from first and put the Twins up 2-1.

The Twins took a commanding lead in the second.  Mickey Hatcher drew a one-out walk and went to third on Lombardozzi's single.  A wild pitch scored a run and Puckett hit a two-run homer to make it 5-1. Gaetti then doubled and Brunansky hit a two-run homer, giving the Twins a 7-1 lead.

The Twins kept adding on.  In the fourth, Lombardozzi singled and scored from first on Gaetti's two-out double.  In the fifth, Kent Hrbek and Mark Salas led off with singles and Woods hit a three-run homer to put the Twins ahead 11-1.

The Brewers got the rest of their runs in the eighth.  A tiring Smithson gave up singles to Gantner and Yount and a two-run double to Charlie Moore.  Allan Anderson came in and gave up a two-run homer to Schroeder before retiring the side.  Milwaukee went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Smithson (12-10).  LP:  Teddy Higuera (17-9).  S:  None.

Notes:  Tim Laudner started at catcher in this game, with Salas pinch-hitting in the fifth.  Laudner, Salas, and Jeff Reed divided the catching duties almost evenly:  Salas caught in 69, Laudner in 68, and Reed in 64.

Billy Beane was in left in place of Randy Bush.  Beane actually played quite a bit of left field in 1986--64 games, with Bush playing 90 and Hatcher 45.  Hatcher was the DH in this game, playing in place of Roy Smalley.

With the blowout game, the Twins made quite a few substitutions.  i already mentioned Salas replacing Laudner.  Woods pinch-hit for Beane in the fifth, with Mark Davidson then taking over in left.  Smalley pinch-hit for Hatcher in the fifth and stayed in the game at DH.  Alvaro Espinoza came in at short to replace Greg Gagne in the seventh.

I must confess that I had no memory that the Twins once had a player named "Al Woods" and in checking it appears that I completely missed him in the birthday list.  His birthday is August 8, so I'll try to include him next month.  In checking on him, I do remember him playing for Toronto as "Alvis Woods".  He was an outfielder for them from 1977-1982 and had a few pretty good years.  He had a poor year in 1982, though, and then spent three and a half years in AAA before resurfacing with the Twins for about a month and a half in 1986.  He did well for them, batting .321/.375/.571 in 28 at-bats, nearly all of them as a pinch-hitter.  It was pretty much his swan song, though--he played in Mexico in 1987 and then was done.

Puckett was batting .349 at this point.  He would finish at .328.  He was the team's only .300 hitter (other than Woods).  The Twins batted .261, which was seventh in the league.  Cleveland led at .284, well ahead of second-place Boston at .271.

Gaetti led the team in homers with 34.  Puckett had 31 homers and Hrbek 29.  Also in double figures were Brunansky (23), Smalley (20), Gagne (12), and Laudner (10).  The Twins hit 196 home runs, second in the league to Detroit (198).

Frank Viola led the team in starts and went 16-13, but with a 4.51 ERA.  Bert Blyleven was 17-14, 4.01 and Smithson was 13-14, 4.77.  Neal Heaton actually had the lowest ERA among the starters, going 4-9, 3.98, but he made just 17 starts, as he was traded to the Twins from Cleveland in June.  Also making double-digit starts were Mark Portugal (6-10, 4.31), Anderson (3-6, 5.51), and John Butcher, who was traded for Heaton (0-3, 6.30).

Six different pitchers had saves.  Keith Atherton led the team with 10, going 5-8, 3.75.  George Frazier had six saves with a 4.39 ERA.  Frank Pastore (4.01) and Ron Davis (9.08) each had two saves, with Roy Lee Jackson (3.86) and Juan Agosto (8.85) each getting one.

The Twins were dead last in ERA at 4.77.  Leading the league was Kansas City at 3.82.  The Twins were twelfth in WHIP at 1.45.  California lead at 1.26.

I remembered Yount as more of a power hitter than he actually was.  He only had four seasons of over 20 homers, with a high of 29 in 1982.  He had nine seasons in which he did not even reach ten.  Maybe I remember him as more of a power threat because of all the doubles and triples--he hit 583 doubles, twice leading the league, and 126 triples, also twice leading the league.  He did hit 251 homers in his career, and I don't mean this as a criticism of him.  He was a great player.  He just wasn't a big home run guy.

Teddy Higuera was a fine pitcher, and 1986 was one of his best years, but you sure couldn't tell it by this game.  He allowed seven runs on seven hits and a walk in just 1.2 innings.  For the season he was 20-11, 2.79 and finished second in Cy Young voting to Roger Clemens.  From 1985-1990 he was 89-54, 3.34.  He then had injury troubles and was never the same pitcher.  He's largely forgotten now, but for several years he was a pitcher you'd have been very happy to have on your team.

This was one of the last games Ray Miller managed for the Twins.  He would be replaced by Tom Kelly a little over a week later.

This was the last of a three-game winning streak.  The Twins would drop their next five.

Record:  The Twins were 58-75, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, 18 games behind California.  They would finish 71-91, in sixth place, 21 games behind California.

The Brewers were 64-68, in seventh (last) place in the American League East, 14.5 games behind Boston.  They would finish 77-84, in sixth place, 18 games behind Boston.

Random Record:  The Twins are 52-49 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1986, Game One Hundred Fifty-eight


Date:  Wednesday, October 1.

Batting star:  Randy Bush was 2-for-4 with a triple and a stolen base, his fifth.

Pitching star:  Keith Atherton struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Tom Candiotti struck out twelve in a complete game, giving up three runs on eight hits and no walks.  Julio Franco was 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs.  Pat Tabler was 3-for-5 with a triple and a double.  Chris Bando was 2-for-4.  Otis Nixon was 2-for-5 with a stolen base (his twenty-third), two runs, and two RBIs.  Joe Carter was 1-for-5 with a three-run homer, his twenty-ninth.

The game:  Nixon led off the game with a single, stole second, and scored on Franco's single.  In the second Tabler singled, Brook Jacoby reached on an error, and Jay Bell hit a two-run double to make it 3-0.  In the third Franco singled and scored on Tabler's double to make it 4-0.

The Twins got on the board in the third when Kirby Puckett doubled and scored on a Gary Gaetti single.  But it was all downhill from there.  In the fifth Brett Butler doubled, went to third on a fly ball, and scored on a balk.  The Indians put the game out of reach with four runs in the sixth.  Jacoby singled, Bell walked, and Bando singled to load the bases.  Nixon had a two-run single, Butler had a sacrifice fly, and Franco had an RBI single.  Cleveland led 9-1.

With two out in the eighth Butler was hit by a pitch, Franco singled, and Carter hit a three-run homer.  The Twins got a couple of runs in the ninth.  Mickey Hatcher singled, Bush tripled, and Ron Washington had an RBI ground out.

WP:  Candiotti (15-12).  LP:  Allan Anderson (3-6).  S:  None.

Notes:  A meaningless game at the end of a lost season.  Ray Miller was fired as manager in mid-September, with Tom Kelly taking over.  The Twins had long since been eliminated from the playoffs by this time.

Puckett was still a leadoff batter at this point.  Hatcher played first base in place of Kent Hrbek.  Jeff Reed was behind the plate, with Mark Salas at DH and Roy Smalley out of the lineup.  The Twins used three catchers about evenly in 1986:  Salas (69 games), Laudner (68), and Reed (64).  Alvaro Espinoza was at second base in place of Steve Lombardozzi.

The Twins made numerous substitutions.  Washington replaced Gaetti at third base in the seventh.  Mark Davidson replaced Tom Brunansky in right field in the seventh.  Laudner replaced Reed at catcher in the eighth.  Lombardozzi went to second in the eighth, with Espinoza moving to short and Greg Gagne coming out of the game.  Billy Beane went to left field in the eighth, with Bush moving to right, Davidson to center, and Puckett coming out of the game.

Anderson was the Twins' starter.  He lasted only three innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits and no walks and striking out two.  Other pitchers used in the game were Roy Lee JacksonBill LathamAtherton, and Ray Fontenot.  This was Anderson's rookie season.  He made 10 starts and 11 relief appearances, going 3-6, 5.55, 1.61 WHIP in 84.1 innings.  When you look at his ERA title in 1988, it really looks like a fluke--his ERA was 2.45 that year, 3.80 in 1989, and well over four in every other season.  He got a lot of criticism for sitting out the last game in 1988 to preserve his ERA title, but it's really the only thing he accomplished in his career, so I say good for him.

The leading batter for the Twins was Puckett at .329.

Record:  The Twins were 68-90, in sixth place in the American League West, twenty-three games behind California.  They would finish 71-91, in sixth place, twenty-one games behind California.

The Indians were 81-78, in fifth place in the American League East, fifteen games behind Boston.  They would finish 84-78, in fifth place, 11.5 games behind Boston.