Tag Archives: Syd O’Brien

1970 Rewind: Game Nine


Date:  Tuesday, April 21.

Batting stars:  Cesar Tovar was 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk, and a stolen base (his fourth).  Harmon Killebrew was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, his second.

Pitching star:  Jim Kaat pitched 7.2 innings, giving up three runs (one earned) on seven hits and no walks.

Opposition stars:  Carlos May was 2-for-4 with a double.  Tommy John pitched six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out one.

The game:  The White Sox opened the game with singles by Ken Berry and Luis Aparicio.  An error then allowed Berry to score and put Chicago up 1-0.  The Twins did not threaten until the fifth, when Rick Renick singled and George Mitterwald drew a one-out walk, but Kaat hit into a double play.  Chicago added a run in the sixth when John singled, went to second on an error, and scored on May's single.

The Twins took the lead in the sixth.  Tovar walked, Rod Carew doubled, and Killebrew hit a three-run homer to make it 3-2.  The Twins added a run in the seventh when Kaat reached on an error and scored on a triple by Tovar.

The White Sox pulled back within one in the eighth when May hit a two-out double and scored on a Bill Melton single.  Syd O'Brien led off the ninth with a single and was bunted to second, but a strikeout and a line out ended the game.

WP:  Kaat (2-1).

LP:  John (0-4).

S:  Perranoski (3).

Notes:  Renick was at third, with Killebrew moving to first and Reese on the bench.  In the eighth Frank Quilici replaced Renick and Jim Holt replaced Brant Alyea in left.  In the ninth Reese replaced Killebrew.

Alyea was 1-for-3 and was batting .444.  Carew was 1-for-4 and was batting .359.  Oliva was 0-for-4 and was also batting .359.  Tovar was batting .350.  Renick was 1-for-3 and was batting .333.  Holt was 0-for-1 and was batting .333.  Killebrew was batting .321.

Kaat had an ERA of 2.70.  Stan Williams pitched two-thirds of an inning and had an ERA of zero.  Perranoski retired both men he faced and had an ERA of 2.08.

Mitterwald was 0-for-2 and was batting .188.

It's fun to second-guess manager's decisions from games that were played over fifty years ago.  In the fifth the Twins were down 1-0, had men on first and second with one out, and Kaat up to bat.  Manager Bill Rigney did not have Kaat bunt, but rather allowed him to swing away, and he hit into a double play to end the inning.  Kaat was considered a good batter, but it was in the sense of "a good batter for a pitcher" rather than an actual good batter.  His lifetime slash line was .185/.227/.267.  In the prior year, 1969, he had batted .207/.247/.368.  So a bunt, with Tovar on deck and Carew in the hole, would seem to have been the play.  It's easy to say that now, of course, after we know what actually happened.  Had Kaat gotten a hit we probably wouldn't even have the discussion.  But again, it's always fun to second-guess a manager.

Perranoski now had saves in three consecutive games.  There was a day off before this one, of course, but he had still pitched 6.2 innings in three games.

Syd O'Brien was a mostly-regular in 1970, starting 105 games.  65 were at third, 38 at second, and 2 at short.  He got 441 at-bats; his next-highest total was 263.  He really wasn't up to the task, batting .247/.285/.340.  He was traded to California after the season, then finished up his career with Milwaukee, to whom he was traded in mid-1972 (a trade which involved ex-Twins Ron Clark and Paul Ratliff).

Record:  The Twins were 7-2, in first place in the American League West by winning percentage, but even with 9-4 California in games.