MINNESOTA 9, SEATTLE 1 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Wednesday, August 21.
Batting stars: Shane Mack was 3-for-3 with a triple, a double, a walk, and five RBIs. Brian Harper was 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch and two runs. Kirby Puckett was 2-for-3 with two runs.
Pitching stars: Kevin Tapani pitched eight innings, giving up one run on four hits and three walks and striking out one. Denny Neagle pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.
Opposition stars: Ken Griffey was 2-for-3 with a double. Bill Swift pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one. Russ Swan pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and a walk.
The game: Edgar Martinez led off the game with a double, went to third on a fly ball and scored on another fly ball to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. The Twins came back with six in the bottom of the first, and they did after their first two batters were retired. Puckett singled, Chili Davis walked, and Harper was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Mack hit a bases-clearing triple and scored on Kent Hrbek's single. Scott Leius walked and Al Newman delivered a two-run double. The Twins led 6-1 and were never threatened after that.
The Twins added two runs in the second for good measure. Singles by Puckett and Harper put men on first and second with two out. Mack's double brought them both home to make it 8-1. The final run of the game came in the seventh, when Davis singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Mack's single-plus-error.
Seattle only got close to scoring twice after the first inning. Griffey doubled leading off the sixth but could only get as far as third base. Greg Briley doubled with two out in the ninth but was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Scott Bradley single.
WP: Tapani (11-7). LP: Bill Krueger (10-6). S: None.
Notes: Newman started at short in place of Greg Gagne.
With a big lead, the Twins made lots of substitutions. Gagne pinch-hit for Chuck Knoblauch in the sixth and stayed in the game at shortstop, with Newman moving to second base. Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Puckett in the seventh and stayed in the game in right field, with Mack moving to center. Junior Ortiz replaced Harper behind the plate in the eighth. Randy Bush replaced Hrbek at first base in the eighth.
Puckett raised his average to .329. Harper raised his average to .310. Mack raised his average to .310. Tapani lowered his ERA to 2.97.
Tapani threw 111 pitches. Today, with a lead that big, he would undoubtedly have come out after seven innings, if not sooner.
Krueger started for the Mariners but lasted only two innings. He surrendered eight runs on seven hits and two walks and struck out two.
It seems kind of amazing to have the last out be made at the plate in a 9-1 game. In that situation, if there's any chance that the runner might not make it home safely (other than falling down or something), you hold him at third, because that run is meaningless anyway. It could be, I suppose, that, knowing the run was meaningless, Seattle assumed Dan Gladden would concede it and not make a throw to the plate. If so, they were wrong.
I don't recall what the deal was with Gagne at this point. I had assumed he was nursing a minor injury, but if so, why use him late in a game like this? It's clearly not a case of being able to bat and not play in the field, or vice-versa, because he did both here. He would not be back in the starting lineup until August 24, but he would play in each of the two games in-between. I'm sure there was a reason, but I don't know what it was.
Mack had an eight-game hitting streak. He was 15-for-32 over that streak with three doubles and three triples. The three triples have come in the last two games. His average jumped from .292 to .310.
The White Sox lost to Detroit 12-9. Not only did they lose another game to the Twins, but they were only a half-game above third-place Oakland.
Record: The Twins were 73-49, in first place in the American League West, 5.5 games ahead of Chicago.