Tag Archives: Scott Erickson

1991 Rewind: ALCS Game Three

MINNESOTA 3, TORONTO 2 IN TORONTO (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Friday, October 11.

Batting stars:  Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-5 with a double.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5 with a double.  Mike Pagliarulo hit a pinch-hit home run.

Pitching stars:  David West struck out three in 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and three walks.  Carl Willis pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.  Rick Aguilera pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Jimmy Key pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk and striking out one.  Joe Carter was 1-for-3 with a walk.

The game:  With two out in the first inning Carter homered to get the Blue Jays on the board.  They weren't done, as John Olerud walked, Kelly Gruber singled, and Candy Maldonado delivered an RBI double, giving Toronto a 2-0 lead.

The Twins did not get a hit until the fourth, when Puckett hit a double.  Nothing came of it, and nothing came of the Blue Jays' fourth, when they opened the inning with a pair of walks.  The Twins got on the board in the fifth, when Shane Mack tripled and scored on a ground ball.

In Toronto's fifth, two more walks and a wild pitch put men on second and third, but again nothing came of it.  The Twins tied it in the sixth when Knoblauch hit a one-out double and Puckett drove him in with a single.  The Blue Jays threatened again in the seventh when Devon White singled, was bunted to second, and Carter was intentionally walked, but again they did not score.  There were no further threats through nine, so we went to extra innings.

Well, only one extra inning.  With one out in the tenth, Pagliarulo pinch-hit for Scott Leius and hit a 1-0 pitch over the fence to give the Twins their first lead at 3-2.  Aguilera came on and retired Toronto in order in the bottom of the tenth to give the Twins a victory.

WP:  Mark Guthrie.  LP:  Mike Timlin.  S:  Aguilera (2).

Notes:  Scott Erickson was the starting pitcher, so Junior Ortiz was behind the plate.  Paul Sorrento pinch-hit for Greg Gagne in the ninth.  Al Newman came in to play shortstop.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Ortiz in the tenth.  Brian Harper came in to catch.  As stated above, Pagliarulo pinch-hit for Leius in the tenth and stayed in the game at third base.

Erickson pitched four innings, giving up two runs on three hits and five walks and striking out two.  He came out in the fifth after giving up a leadoff walk to Roberto Alomar.  It was a quick hook, in a way, but five walks (and three in the last inning-plus) will tend to make a manager do that.  The Twins bullpen came through in a big way, pitched six scoreless innings.  In addition to the pitchers listed under "pitching stars", Guthrie came in to retire the only man he faced, Rob Ducey.

Toronto stranded ten men and went 1-for-9 with men in scoring position.  The Twins were not a lot better, stranding six and going 1-for-7 with men in scoring position.  The Blue Jays drew eight walks, but could get only five hits.  It had to be a tough loss for Toronto--their first home game of the series, they had all kinds of chances to win, and yet they could not do it.

Record:  The Twins led the best-of-seven series 2-1 and regained home field advantage.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Fifty-one

MINNESOTA 9, CHICAGO 2 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, September 24.

Batting stars:  Chuck Knoblauch was 3-for-5 with three RBIs.  Greg Gagne was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, a stolen base (his eleventh), two runs, and three RBIs.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his nineteenth.

Pitching stars:  Scott Erickson pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on one hit and three walks and striking out four.  He threw 88 pitches.  Mark Guthrie pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Wilson Alvarez pitched 5.1 innings of relief, giving up one run on two hits and two walks and striking out two.  Dan Pasqua was 1-for-2 with a two-run homer, his sixteenth.

The game:  The Twins scored early and often.  With one out in the first, Knoblauch singled and scored from first on a Puckett double.  Gene Larkin delivered a two-out RBI single to make it 2-0 Twins.  In the second, again with one out, the Twins got consecutive singles from GagneDan Gladden, and Knoblauch to make it 3-0.  A ground out scored one run and Hrbek delivered a two-run homer to put the Twins up 6-0.  The game was pretty much over at that point.

They played the full nine innings, of course.  The Twins added a run in the fourth when Gagne singled, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a pair of infield grounders.  Meanwhile, the White Sox did not even get a baserunner until the sixth, when Craig Grebeck walked.  In the seventh, Robin Ventura walked and, with one out, Pasqua hit a two-run homer, Chicago's first hit of the game, to make the score 7-2.

The Twins added two more runs in the ninth.  Scott Leius singled, was bunted to second, and went to third on a wild pitch.  With two out Gladden walked, and RBI singles by Knoblauch and Puckett followed.

WP:  Erickson (19-7).  LP:  Jack McDowell (17-10).  S:  None.

Notes:  Larkin started in right field in place of Shane Mack.  Junior Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.

Puckett raised his average to .321.  Erickson's ERA went to 3.32.

This was pretty much the White Sox' last stand.  They were already eight games out, so they had to sweep to have any kind of chance at the division, and even then it would have been a long shot.  They had their ace, Black Jack McDowell, on the mound.  And the Twins came out and made him look like a bush leaguer.  His line was 1.2 innings, six runs, seven hits, one walk, and one strikeout.  This wasn't the official clincher, but it was officially just a matter of time at this point.

With the Twins leading 7-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Leius led off with a single and Ortiz followed with a sacrifice bunt.  That would seem like a huge violation of an unwritten rule.  I don't know if anyone cared--enforcement of unwritten rules is pretty random and capricious.  But I would think that someone at least made mention of it.

This was, at the time, a rare good start for Erickson.  He would continue to pitch well the rest of the season, although the rest of the season obviously was not very long.

Record:  The Twins were 91-60, in first place in the American League West, nine games ahead of Chicago.  The magic number was three.

In the East, Toronto won and Boston did not play, so the Blue Jays' lead went up to two games.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Forty-seven

KANSAS CITY 10, MINNESOTA 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, September 18.

Batting stars:  Gene Larkin was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.  Mike Pagliarulo was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

Pitching star:  Willie Banks pitched three innings, giving up one run on four hits and two walks and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Jorge Pedre was 2-for-3.  George Brett was 2-for-4 with a double.  Todd Benzinger was 2-for-5 with a triple and two runs.  Kurt Stillwell was 2-for-5 with a double.

The game:  It was scoreless through three, with each team managing only one hit.  In the fourth, however, Brett had a one-out double, Danny Tartabull walked, and Jim Eisenreich delivered a two-run triple.  Eisenreich was then picked off third, but Twins catcher Junior Ortiz threw the ball away, allowing him to score and making it 3-0 Royals.

The Twins came back to tie it in the fifth.  Chili Davis walked, Shane Mack was hit by a pitch, and Larkin walked, loading the bases with none out.  Pagliarulo singled in two and a ground out brought home a third to make it 3-3.  The tie only lasted until Kansas City batted in the sixth.  Stillwell doubled and scored on a Tartabull single.  Benzinger drove in Tartabull with a triple and Bill Pecota followed with an RBI double.  David Howard singled to put men on first and third, and Pedre then circled the bases on a three-run single-plus-error, giving the Royals a 9-3 advantage.

It was pretty much over at that point Mike MacFarlane had an RBI single in the eighth to make it 10-3 and Greg Gagne had an RBI double in the ninth to make the final 10-4.

WP:  Luis Aquino (8-3).  LP:  Scott Erickson (18-7).  S:  None.

Notes:  Mack was in left and Larkin in right with Dan Gladden on the bench.  Gagne moved into the leadoff spot.  Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.

Lenny Webster came in to catch in the seventh, replacing Ortiz once Erickson was out of the game.  Pedro Munoz pinch-hit for Pagliarulo in the ninth.

Kirby Puckett was 0-for-5 and was batting .321.  He was 1-for-16 and 5-for-34 since September 8.  Mack was 0-for-3 and was batting .308.  Webster was 0-for-1 and was batting .391.

Erickson continued to try to pitch through his injury, and it continued to not work very well.  He did well for three innings, but his line was 5.2 innings, seven runs (six earned), eight hits, one walk, four strikeouts.  His ERA was up to 3.34, still quite good but nowhere near what it had been earlier in the season.

Carl Willis gave up two unearned runs in a third of an inning, making his ERA 2.34.

This was the fifth big league appearance of Banks' career, and his last of 1991.  He would go on to pitch for the Twins through 1993 and would be in the big leagues through 2002.

I mentioned a few days back that Jorge Pedre played in fourteen major league games, going 5-for-23.  Three of his five hits came against the Twins.  He was 3-for-5 with a double against the Twins, for a slash line of .600/.600/.800.  Against everyone else, then, he had a slash line of .111/.238/.222.  Maybe if he'd played against the Twins more, he'd have had a longer career.

The White Sox defeated Oakland 6-0 to come a game closer to the Twins.  The lead was not in serious jeopardy, but I suspect at least a few Twins fans were thinking "you never know..."

Record:  The Twins were 87-60, in first place in the American League West, six games ahead of Chicago.

In the East, Toronto and Boston both won, keeping the Blue Jays' lead at 2.5 games.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Forty-two

MINNESOTA 7, TEXAS 3 IN TEXAS (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Friday, September 13.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.  Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-5 with a double.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his seventeenth.

Pitching stars:  David West struck out five in four innings of relief, giving up one run on two hits and two walks.  Gary Wayne struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Kevin Brown pitched seven innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk and striking out five.  Mario Diaz was 3-for-3 with two runs.  Brian Downing was 2-for-5 with a home run, his sixteenth.

The game:  Downing led off the bottom of the first with a home run, giving the Rangers a quick 1-0 lead.  The Twins tied it in the third.  Gladden and Knoblauch hit two-out singles, putting men on first and third, and a pickoff attempt went awry to allow Gladden to score.

Texas went back into the lead in the fifth.  Diaz led off with a single, went to second on a wild pitch, took third on a ground out, and scored on a sacrifice fly, making it 2-1 Rangers.  The Twins again tied it in the seventh.  Puckett singled and Hrbek walked.  A double play moved Puckett to third and he scored on Randy Bush's pinch-hit single, making it 2-2.

Texas again went back into the lead in the bottom of the seventh.  One-out singles by Diaz and Downing put men on first and third and a ground out made it 3-2 Rangers.  The Twins again tied it in the eighth.  Gene Larkin drew a one-out walk.  Pinch-runner Jarvis Brown stole second and third and scored on a Knoblauch double to tie it at three.

The Twins took their only lead of the game in the tenth.  With one out Lenny Webster singled and Gladden walked.  Puckett's two-out single scored one run and Hrbek delivered a three-run homer to give the Twins a 7-3 advantage.   Texas got only one single in the bottom of the tenth.

WP:  Terry Leach (1-1).  LP:  Kenny Rogers (9-10).  S:  None.

Notes:  Pedro Munoz was in right field in place of Shane Mack.  Junior Ortiz caught in place of Brian Harper.

The Twins made extensive use of the bench.  Bush pinch-hit for Munoz in the seventh and remained in the game in right field.  Al Newman pinch-hit for Ortiz in the seventh and remained in the game at shortstop.  Larkin pinch-hit for Greg Gagne in the seventh.  Brown pinch-ran for him and Webster then came in to catch.  Mack entered the game in the eighth in right field in place of Bush.  Scott Leius pinch-hit for Mike Pagliarulo in the ninth and remained in the game at third base.  I'm going to miss teams being able to make that many moves in September games.

Puckett raised his average to .328.  Mack was 0-for-1 and was batting .313.  Webster was 1-for-1 and was batting .400.

Scott Erickson started for the Twins but pitched just two innings, giving up one run on two hits and a walk.  He threw twenty-nine pitches.  I assume he came out because of his elbow.  He would not miss a start, however.

Erickson's ERA went to 3.15.  Leach pitched two-thirds of an inning scorelessly to make his ERA 3.06.  Rick Aguilera similarly pitched two-thirds of an inning scorelessly to make his ERA 2.17.

This was Leach's only win of the season.

Kenny Rogers was primarily a reliever in his first four years in the majors.  In fact, he led the league in appearances in 1992 with 81.  He made just twelve starts in those first four seasons before becoming a full-time starter in 1993.

Diaz was not in the starting lineup.  He batted for Jeff Huson in the fifth inning.

The White Sox defeated California 1-0, but again, time was running out on them.

Record:  The Twins were 86-56, in first place in the American League West, 8.5 games ahead of Chicago.

In the East, Toronto and Boston both won, so the Blue Jays remained in the lead by 3.5 games.

 

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-three

MINNESOTA 9, CLEVELAND 3 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Monday, September 2.

Batting stars:  Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs.  Kent Hrbek was 2-for-4 with two runs.  Shane Mack was 1-for-3 with a grand slam, his seventeenth home run.

Pitching stars:  Scott Erickson struck out seven in seven shutout innings, giving up six hits and two walks.  He threw 119 pitches.  Rick Aguilera pitched two perfect innings.

Opposition stars:  Mike Aldrete was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Albert Belle was 2-for-4 with a double.  Alex Cole was 2-for-4 with a walk.

The game:  Despite the final score, it was a pitchers' duel for six innings.  The Indians had a couple of mild threats, getting a two-out double from Carlos Baerga in the first and putting men on first and second with one out in the third.  The Twins did not get a hit until the fourth.  Knoblauch led off with a single and went to third with none out on a pickoff error, but he was thrown out trying to score on a ground ball to short (one assumes it was the contact play).  Cleveland put men on first and second with one out in the fifth and had men on first and third with one out in the sixth, but the latter threat went away when Carlos Martinez was thrown out at home on the back end of a second-and-home double steal.  So the game remained scoreless in the sixth.

The Twins broke through in the seventh.  Randy Bush led off with a walk.  Jarvis Brown pinch-ran and scored from first on Puckett's double.  Hrbek followed with an RBI single.  A pair of productive outs moved Hrbek to third and he scored on an error.  Junior Ortiz delivered an RBI double to put the Twins up 4-0.

The Indians came right back in the eighth.  Steve Bedrosian came in to pitch and walked Baerga.  Belle doubled, and RBI singles by Martinez and Aldrete made it 4-2.  Aguilera came on and got Jeff Manto to hit into a double play, but a run scored to make it 4-3.

Undaunted, the Twins put it away in the bottom of the eighth.  Knoblauch led off with a single and Chili Davis walked.  Puckett delivered an RBI single.  Hrbek laid down a bunt single, loading the bases.  Mack then hit a grand slam, making the score 9-3 and effectively ending the game.  Not literally, of course--Cleveland still batted in the ninth, but they went down in order.

WP:  Erickson (17-6).  LP:  Eric King (5-9).  S:  Aguilera (37).

Notes:  Mack was in left field, with Dan Gladden getting the day off.  Gene Larkin was in right.  Once again Ortiz caught Erickson, with Brian Harper on the bench.  Randy Bush was at DH in place of Davis.  Knoblauch led off, with Bush batting second.

Again, we had plenty of bench players used.  Brown pinch-ran for Bush in the seventh.  Davis pinch-hit for Brown in the eighth.  Al Newman then pinch-ran for Davis in the eighth.  Gladden pinch-ran for Larkin in the seventh and stayed in the game in left field, with Mack moving to right.  Paul Sorrento pinch-hit for Greg Gagne in the eighth.  Scott Leius went into the game at shortstop in the ninth.

Puckett raised his average to .330.  Mack raised his average to .310.  Mike Pagliarulo was 0-for-4 and was batting .300.  Erickson lowered his ERA to 3.08.

Tom Kelly allowing Erickson to throw seven innings and 114 pitches is at least questionable.  Yes, he was pitching well, and yes, it was a scoreless game until the seventh.  But he was obviously still hurting, this was the first good game he'd pitched in a month, and the Twins were in first place by eight games.  Plus, TK gave Gladden and Davis the day off, so he clearly did not consider this a must-win game.  It seems to me a lower pitch-limit would have been indicated, even though such things were not as common back then.

Using three pinch-runners in a game is certainly unusual.  Even back then the only way you could do it is with September call-ups, and with the new limit on September call-ups it may never happen again.  I think if I ran a team, I'd have a couple of pitchers practiced up so they could be used as pinch-runners when necessary.  It used to not be uncommon to use pitchers as pinch-runners--there's no real reason you couldn't do it today.  Yes, there's a chance someone could get hurt, but there's also a chance someone could get hurt running in the outfield before the game.  To me, with today's shorter benches, it makes perfect sense.

Oakland did not play, but the White Sox defeated Kansas City 5-1, so the two teams were once again tied for second place.

Record:  The Twins were 80-53, in first place in the American League West, 8.5 games ahead of Chicago and Oakland.

Toronto continued to lead Detroit by 2.5 games in the East.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twenty-six

BALTIMORE 7, MINNESOTA 3 IN BALTIMORE

Date:  Sunday, August 25.

Batting stars:  Mike Pagliarulo was 2-for-4 with a double.  Greg Gagne was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his tenth.

Pitching stars:  Terry Leach pitched 2.1 innings, giving up one run on two hits and striking out one.  Mark Guthrie pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and two walks and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Mike Mussina pitched eight innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and four walks and striking out four.  Chito Martinez was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.  Leo Gomez was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.  Joe Orsulak was 2-for-4 with a double.

The game:  It was scoreless through three, and Scott Erickson had given up just one hit, a single.  It fell apart in the fourth, though.  Orsulak led off with a single.  With one out, Glenn Davis singled and Randy Milligan walked, loading the bases.  Martinez singled in a run, Gomez doubled home two, and a sacrifice fly made it 4-0 Orioles.

The Twins came back with two in the fifth.  Pagliarulo led off with a double and scored on a pair of ground outs.  Dan Gladden then singled, stole second, and scored on a Gagne single to cut the lead to 4-2.  In the bottom of the fifth, however, Baltimore added three more.  Orsulak had a one-out double and Cal Ripken was intentionally walked.  A wild pitch advanced the runners.  With two out, Milligan hit a two-run double and Martinez followed with another double, making the score 7-2.

The Twins got one back in the fifth.  Kent Hrbek led off with a single, a ground out advanced him to second, and an error brought him home to cut the margin to 7-3.  That was as close as it got, though.  The Twins did not even get another threat going until the ninth.  Pagliarulo and Chuck Knoblauch led off with singles, but a double play followed.  Randy Bush walked, but Gene Larkin lined out to end the game.

WP:  Mussina (2-3).  LP:  Erickson (16-6).  S:  Todd Frohwirth (2).

Notes:  With Erickson pitching, Junior Ortiz caught in place of Brian Harper.  Al Newman was at second base in place of Knoblauch.

The Twins again made liberal use of the bench, using three pinch-hitters in the ninth inning.  Knoblauch batted for Ortiz, Bush batted for Gladden, and Larkin batted for Gagne.  Oddly, Newman and his .207 batting average (and .504 OPS) were not pinch-hit for.

Kirby Puckett was 0-for-4 to drop his average to .328.  Shane Mack was 0-for-4 and fell to .305.

Erickson continued to struggle.  He pitched well for three innings, but his line was 4.1 innings, six runs, six hits, two walks, and three strikeouts.  His ERA went up to 3.22.  Leach's ERA went to 2.78.

Frohwirth had an awesome year in 1991.  He started the year in AAA, not coming to the majors until late May, but once he got there he went 7-3, 1.87, 0.97 WHIP with three saves.  He had another good year in 1992 and was still fairly good in 1993, then he fell off a cliff.  In 1994, pitching for Boston, he went 0-3, 10.80, 2.14 WHIP.  He made only four more major league appearances, for California in 1996.  I suspect an injury was involved, but I don't remember and don't have time to check.

The White Sox lost to Cleveland 3-0 and Oakland lost to Milwaukee 8-2, so the Twins' lead remained the same.

Record:  The Twins were 75-51, in first place in the American League West, six games ahead of Chicago and Oakland.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Sixteen

CALIFORNIA 9, MINNESOTA 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, August 15.

Batting stars:  Dan Gladden was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his ninth.  Chuck Knoblauch was 1-for-2 with two walks.

Pitching star:  Terry Leach pitched 3.2 innings, giving up one run on one hit.

Opposition stars:  Mark Langston pitched seven shutout innings, giving up two hits and three walks and striking out three.  Shawn Abner was 2-for-4 with a home run (his second), two runs, and two RBIs.  Lance Parrish was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his fifteenth.  Wally Joyner was 2-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs.  Luis Sojo was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.

The game:  The Twins had men on first and second with none out in the first and did not score.  In the third, the Angels exploded for five runs.  With one out, Joyner doubled and Gary Gaetti singled him to third.  Dave Parker hit an RBI double, there was a run-scoring ground out, Abner had an RBI single, and Parrish hit a two-run homer,  making the score 5-0 California.

The Twins had men on first and second with two out in the third and did not score.  Abner homered in the fifth to make it 6-0.  In the sixth, Donnie Hill walked and Luis Polonia and Joyner hit back-to-back doubles to increase the lead to 8-0.  Sojo homered in the eighth to make it 9-0.

The Twins finally got on the board in the bottom of the eighth.  With two out, they got consecutive singles by GladdenKnoblauch, and Shane Mack, avoiding the shutout with a score of 9-1.

WP:  Langston (15-6).  LP:  Scott Erickson (15-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Gene Larkin was at first base with Kent Hrbek on the bench.  With Erickson pitching, Junior Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.  Al Newman was at shortstop in place of Greg Gagne.

With the changes, Mack was in the third spot in the batting order, with Puckett batting fourth and Chili Davis fifth.

Erickson pitched just three innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and a walk.  His ERA went to 2.89.  It was his second consecutive bad start and third out of four.  His injury was clearly affecting him, but the Twins kept sending him out there.

Puckett was 0-for-4 and was batting .323.  Ortiz was 0-for-4 and was batting .194.  Denny Neagle allowed three runs in 2.1 innings to make his ERA 5.63.  Leach's ERA went down to 2.73.

I'm pretty sure that, when Mike Fetters came in to pitch the ninth for the Angels, John Gordon solemnly stated, "This is not a save situation."

1991 was probably Langston's best year.  He went 19-8, 3.00, 1.16 WHIP.  He finished sixth in Cy Young voting that year and probably should have been higher.  From 1987-1995 he was a consistently good pitcher, making the all-star team four times, but 1991 was the best.

The White Sox lost to Detroit 6-4, so the Twins maintained their lead.

Record:  The Twins were 68-48, in first place in the American League West, 1.5 games ahead of Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Eleven

SEATTLE 8, MINNESOTA 0 IN SEATTLE

Date:  Saturday, August 10.

Batting stars:  Mike Pagliarulo was 3-for-4.  Randy Bush was 2-for-4 with a double.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Carl Willis pitched five shutout innings, giving up four hits and two walks and striking out two.  Terry Leach pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Erik Hanson pitched eight shutout innings, giving up eight hits and a walk and striking out four.  Ken Griffey was 3-for-5 with a stolen base, his tenth.  Dave Cochrane was 2-for-4 with a home run (his second), a double, two runs, and three RBIs.

The game:  The Twins put men on second and third with two out in the first inning but did not score.  It cost them, as the Mariners jumped out for five runs in the bottom of the first.  Edgar Martinez walked and moved to third on a pickoff error.  Harold Reynolds singled him home, Griffey singled, and Pete O'Brien had an RBI single.  A ground out scored the third run, Cochrane doubled home the fourth run, and Omar Vizquel singled home the fifth run.

The Twins got two on with none out in the sixth and loaded the bases with two out in the seventh, but there was no more scoring until the bottom of the seventh.  Paul Abbott, who had come into the game in the sixth, walked O'Brien, but he was erased on a double play.  Jay Buhner then walked and Cochrane hit a two-run homer to make the score 7-0.  Scott Bradley singled, and consecutive walks to Vizquel, Martinez, and Reynolds brought home an eighth run.  The Twins did not threaten after that.

WP:  Hanson (7-5).  LP:  Scott Erickson (15-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Dan Gladden got the day off.  Shane Mack was in left, with Randy Bush in right.  Chuck Knoblauch batted leadoff, with Bush second.  Junior Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.  Al Newman was at short in place of Greg Gagne.

With a blowout game, the Twins made some substitutions in the eighth.  Gene Larkin replaced Puckett and went to first base.  Harper replaced Kent Hrbek and went to left field.  Scott Leius replaced Mack and went to center field.

Puckett was batting .327.

Willis lowered his ERA to 1.88.  Leach's ERA went to 2.85.

The Twins stranded nine runners and went 1-for-7 with men in scoring position.

Erickson surrendered five runs on five hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning.  His ERA went from 2.36 to 2.65.  He clearly was still hurting, but did not miss a start, even though he would not have a good one again until September.  This game was his worst of the season by game scores.  I guess I don't really understand how game scores work.  He got a 20 for this, which is obviously not good, but he got a 22 for a game on June 29 when he allowed seven runs on eleven hits in 6.1 innings.  It seems to me that, while neither start was good, this one was a lot worse than that one, and yet they're pretty much even according to game scores.

This was one of eight career home runs for Cochrane.  He played for the White Sox in 1986 and was with the Mariners from 1989-1992.  He had 218 career games and 562 plate appearances, batting .235/.294/.333.  As John Gordon would say, he played around, playing 54 games of outfield, 53 games of third base, 43 games behind the plate, 39 games at shortstop, 19 games of first base, and five games of second base.  In today's era of small benches, he'd have been more valuable.  Even at that time, he'd have had a long career if he could've hit a little more.

Over his first fifty-six starts, from 1988-1990, Erik Hanson was really good.  He went 29-17, 3.22, 1.16 WHIP with 322 strikeouts in 391 innings.  He threw 236 innings in 1990, many more than he had thrown previously.  Whether that made the difference or not, he was not the same pitcher after that.  He had a couple of decent years after that, but he was never the kind of dominant pitcher he had been.  He's apparently also a fine golfer, qualifying for the U. S. Senior Open in 2015.

The White Sox defeated Baltimore 6-4, cutting the Twins' lead in half.

Record:  The Twins were 66-45, in first place in the American League West, one game ahead of Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game Seventy-five

CHICAGO 8, MINNESOTA 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, June 29.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his tenth) and a double.  Chili Davis was 2-for-4 with a home run, his nineteenth.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-4 with a home run, his seventh.

Pitching star:  Terry Leach pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  Dan Pasqua was 4-for-5 with a home run (his seventh), a triple, and three RBIs.  Ozzie Guillen was 3-for-4 with a stolen base (his thirteenth) and two RBIs.  Robin Ventura was 2-for-3 with a double and two walks.  Lance Johnson was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs.  Tim Raines was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs.  Greg Hibbard pitched a complete game, giving up four runs on seven hits and a walk and striking out one.

The game:  The White Sox opened the game with singles by Raines, Ventura, and Frank Thomas, taking a 1-0 lead.  A strikeout and a double play prevented further damage, and the Twins bounced back in the bottom of the first.  Chuck Knoblauch singled, Puckett hit a two-run homer, and Davis homered, putting the Twins up 3-1.

It stayed 3-1 until the fourth, when Pasqua led off with a homer to make it 3-2.  It stayed 3-2 until the seventh, when Chicago exploded for five runs.  Singles by Matt Merullo and Johnson started the inning.  With one out, Guillen had an RBI single to tie it and Raines' two-run double put the White Sox ahead.  Ventura was intentionally walked, and with two out Pasqua hit a two-run triple, giving Chicago a 7-3 lead.

It was pretty much over at that point.  Hrbek homered in the seventh to cut the lead to 7-4, but the White Sox got the run back in the eighth when Johnson doubled and scored on a Guillen single.  After the Hrbek homer the Twins got only one baserunner, a Davis single in the ninth.

WP:  Hibbard (6-6).  LP:  Scott Erickson (12-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Shane Mack was in left replacing Dan Gladden.  Pedro Munoz was in right.  With Erickson pitching, Junior Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.

Puckett raised his average to .322.  Erickson pitched 6.1 innings, allowing seven runs on eleven hits and two walks and striking out one.  His ERA went up to 1.83.  Leach lowered his ERA to 3.16.

Erickson pitched well for six innings.  He would not pitch again, however, until July 15 and was not really the same pitcher the rest of the season.  He obviously could not be expected to keep up the pace of a 1.39 ERA, which he had going into this game, but it seems logical to think overuse played a part in his pitching.  He was twenty-three years old in 1991 and this was his sixteenth start.  He pitched 122.2 innings, never pitching fewer than six and only three times pitching fewer than seven.  He threw a hundred pitches or more eleven times, more than 110 seven times, one hundred twenty or more three times, and over 130 once (134).  Erickson would go on to have some good years in his career, but he was never the dominant pitcher he was for the first half of 1991.  Maybe he'd have gotten hurt at some point anyway, or maybe he wouldn't have remained dominant, but one has to wonder what his career might have looked like if the Twins had taken batter care of him.

Greg Hibbard was a solid major league starter for five seasons.  He came up with the White Sox in 1989 at age twenty-four and had his best season in 1990, when he went 14-9, 3.16, 1.22 WHIP.  He was with the White Sox through 1992, but they left him unprotected in the expansion draft and he was chosen by Florida.  They immediately traded him to the Cubs, for whom he pitched in 1993.  He became a free agent after the season and signed with Seattle in 1994.  He immediately began to have shoulder problems, tried to pitch through it with awful results, and was done after the 1994 season.  He has been a minor league pitching coach since 1999, most recently for the Frisco RoughRiders in the Rangers organization.  For his career he was 57-50, 4.05, 1.35 WHIP in 990 innings.  Not a superstar, but in his good years he was someone you'd be happy to have to fill out your rotation.

Their hot streak ended, the Twins had now lost four in a row, all at home, and their best pitcher was now injured.  Was their hot month just an illusion?  We'll see.

Record:  The Twins were 44-31, in first place in the American League West, two games ahead of California.