CLEVELAND 9, MINNESOTA 8 IN CLEVELAND
Date: Wednesday, July 29.
Batting stars: Tony Oliva was 3-for-4 with a home run (his sixteenth) and four RBIs. Rich Reese was 3-for-4 with two runs. Danny Thompson was 2-for-4. Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-3 with a home run, his thirty-second.
Pitching star: Stan Williams struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up one hit and one walk.
Opposition stars: Dean Chance was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Graig Nettles was 1-for-3 with a home run (his sixteenth), a walk, and two runs. Vada Pinson was 1-for-5 with a grand slam, his tenth homer.
The game: Killebrew homered leading off the second to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. With one out in the bottom of the second, Larry Brown walked, Eddie Leon singled, and Chance delivered an RBI single. With two out, Lou Klimchock walked to load the bases and Duke Sims walked to force in a run, putting the Indians up 2-1.
Cleveland appeared to take control of the game in the third. Nettles led off the inning with a walk. With one out walks to Brown and Leon filled the bases. Chance then delivered another RBI single, followed by Pinson's grand slam. The Indians led 7-1 after three.
The Twins got a couple of hits in the fourth, but did nothing with them. Nettles homered in the fourth to make it 8-1. In the fifth Leon walked, was bunted to second, and scored on Buddy Bradford's double, making it 9-1.
Then the Twins came back. In the sixth Reese singled and Oliva homered to make it 9-3. They wasted a one-out double in the seventh. In the eighth, however, Cesar Tovar walked, Reese singled, and Oliva singled home a run. A pickoff error brought home another run and it was 9-5.
Come the ninth. Singles by Thompson, Brant Alyea, Charlie Manuel, and Tovar cut the lead to 9-7 and put the tying run on base with none out. Reese bunted to move the tying run to scoring position. Oliva hit a sacrifice fly to make it 9-8, but Rick Renick grounded out to end the game.
WP: Chance (6-5).
LP: Dave Boswell (3-7).
S: Phil Hennigan (3).
Notes: Jim Holt started in left in place of Alyea. Thompson was at shortstop in place of Leo Cardenas. Frank Quilici was at second in place of Rod Carew.
Paul Ratliff pinch-hit for the pitcher in the fifth. Renick went to third in the sixth in place of Killebrew. Manuel pinch-hit for the pitcher in the seventh. He stayed in the game in left field, with Holt moving to center, Tovar moving to second, and Quilici coming out of the game. Alyea pinch-hit for the pitcher in the ninth.
Oliva was batting .327. Killebrew was batting .310. Tovar was 1-for-4 and was batting .304. Williams had an ERA of 1.58.
Manuel was 1-for-2 and was batting .182. Boswell allowed five runs in 2.1 innings and had an ERA of 6.42. Pete Hamm made his major league debut and allowed three runs in 1.2 innings, giving him an ERA of 16.20.
Killebrew was pulled in the sixth with the Twins down 9-3. I have no problem with that move. I suspect, though, that Bill Rigney regretted the move when Renick came up in the eighth with the score 9-5 and a man on second and struck out. He probably regretted it further in the ninth, when Renick came up with the tying run on second and two out and grounded out to end the game. Again, I don't mean to imply Rigney did anything wrong--he was trying to get the big guy off his feet in what was then a blowout game. But that's baseball.
If you know anything about Dean Chance, you know he was a terrible batter. His career line is .066/.113/.069. He had sixteen RBIs in his career. I haven't checked, but it wouldn't surprise me if this was the only two-hit game or two-RBI game in his career. He had three hits and three RBIs in all of 1970. But that's baseball.
There were several ex-Twins in this game. Nettles and Chance, of course. Also Ted Uhlaender, who was 0-for-4, and Fred Lasher, who allowed three runs in one inning of work.
Hamm was twenty-two when he made his major league debut. He would make ten appearances for the Twins in 1970 and thirteen in 1971. He didn't do well in the majors, but he had a very good year in AAA Portland, and at age twenty-three, one would've thought this was a promising young pitcher. Instead, the Twins sold him to Chicago after the 1971 season and they sent him to AA. He dominated the Eastern League, as you'd expect, but he never got promoted and his playing career was done after the 1972 season. I've always thought there has to be some sort of story there, but I've never been able to find out what it is.
Record: The Twins were 62-34, in first place in the American League West, seven games ahead of California.