MINNESOTA 6, OAKLAND 2 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Thursday, July 17.
Batting stars: Jacque Jones was 3-for-4 and was hit by a pitch. A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Torii Hunter was 2-for-5 with a home run (his fifteenth), two runs, and two RBIs.
Pitching stars: Rick Reed pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks and striking out one. J. C. Romero pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one. LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Mark Ellis was 3-for-4. Chris Singleton was 2-for-4.
The game: The all-star break was apparently what the Twins needed, as they scored five runs in the first inning to put this one away early. With one out Cristian Guzman reached on an error and Jones singled, putting men on first and second. Then came three more singles, producing four runs: Hunter had an RBI single, Pierzynski drove in two with a single, and Doug Mientkiewicz had a run-scoring single. Another run scored on a ground out to make it 5-0 after one inning.
The Athletics got on the board in the second on consecutive two-out singles by Terrence Long, Ellis, and Singleton. The Twins got the run back in the bottom of the second when Hunter homered.
And that was pretty much it. Oakland got one more run, scoring in the sixth when Miguel Tejada singled and scored on a Ramon Hernandez double. Hernandez was thrown out trying to go to third, however, and the Athletics did not mount another threat the rest of the game.
WP: Reed (5-9). LP: Tim Hudson (7-4). S: None.
Notes: Chris Gomez was at third base in the continuing absence of Corey Koskie.
Jones raised his average to .306. Pierzynski was batting .300.
Much was made of the Twins debut of Shannon Stewart in this game, but he went 0-for-5 as the DH. More important was the return of Jones to the lineup, as he had three hits and scored a run. Stewart would eventually see time in left field, with Jones either in right or at DH. The playing time of people like Justin Morneau and Matthew LeCroy would be substantially reduced, with Morneau eventually being sent back to AAA simply because there was not a spot for him.
It really was a big deal to Twins fans when they acquired Stewart. I still remember finding out about it. I had been at a local ball game that night, and turned on ESPN while getting ready for bed. The bottom line crawl said that Stewart had been traded, and my thought was "Oh. I wonder who got him." Then the crawl said it was the Twins, and I just went, "Wow!" I was stunned that they would pull off a trade like that.
Hawkins lowered his ERA to 2.51.
Hudson pitched seven innings for Oakland, giving up six runs (four earned) on eleven hits and one walk and striking out two. He was having what was probably the best season of his career. He would finish 16-7, 2.70, 1.08 WHIP and would finish fourth in Cy Young voting. He could've finished better--I'm not saying it was injustice, just that his numbers are pretty much in line with the top three that year (Roy Halladay, Esteban Loaiza, and Pedro Martinez).
The win snapped an eight-game losing streak, and was the first win for the Twins since the fourth of July. Their drop to third place turned out to be brief.
Record: The Twins were 45-49, in second place in the American League Central, 7.5 games behind Kansas City. They were a half game ahead of third-place Chicago.