MINNESOTA 4, DETROIT 0 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Sunday, May 7.
Batting stars: Cristian Guzman was 1-for-3 with a triple, two walks, and two runs. Jacque Jones was 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs.
Pitching star: Joe Mays pitched a complete game shutout, giving up five hits and two walks and striking out five.
Opposition stars: Willie Blair pitched 4.1 scoreless innings of relief, giving up two hits and two walks and striking out two. Deivi Cruz was 2-for-3.
The game: The first was a "Twins Baseball!" kind of inning. Guzman led off with a walk and went to third on a single by Jay Canizaro. A one-out sacrifice fly by Ron Coomer got the Twins on the board. A wild pitch moved Canizaro to second, Corey Koskie walked, and Butch Huskey was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Jones then delivered a single, only the second hit of the inning, to put the Twins up 3-0.
The Tigers threatened in the third. Cruz singled, and with two out Brad Ausmus and Juan Encarnacion walked, loading the bases. But Juan Gonzalez flied out to end the inning. The Twins added a run in the fourth when Guzman led off with a triple and scored on a Matt Lawton single.
That was it for the scoring. Detroit had a chance to at least spoil the shutout when Encarnacion led off with a triple. But Gonzalez hit a short fly ball, Bobby Higginson fouled to the catcher, and Dean Palmer flied out to end the game.
WP: Mays (1-4). LP: Mark Johnson (0-1). S: None.
Notes: Marcus Jensen was the catcher. The Twins used five catchers in 2000, none of whom got much accomplished at bat until A. J. Pierzynski came up in mid-August. Jensen (.209/.663 OPS) and Matthew LeCroy (.174/.577) each caught 49 games, with Chad Moeller (.211/.534) right behind at 48. They also used Danny Ardoin (.125/.550) for 15 games before Pierzynski (.307/.809) catching 32 games. After that mess for the first four and a half months, he seemed like a Godsend.
Huskey was the DH. He had signed with the Twins to be the DH, but at this point he was close to losing the job to David Ortiz. Huskey batted just .223 with an OPS of .660 before being traded to Colorado in mid-July.
Matt Lawton was leading the team in batting at this point at .363. He would finish at .305, which still led the team. Jones was batting .337. He would finish at .285. Koskie, who was batting .270 at this point, would finish at .300.
On the other end, Canizaro was batting .185, although he would finish at .269. The Twins had soured on Todd Walker at this point and would trade him to Colorado in the same deal that sent Huskey there. Walker had batted .316 in 1998 and a still-respectable .279 in 1999, but when he got off to a slow start in 2000 the Twins benched him, sent him to AAA, and then traded him. His defense was suspect, but as I recall this was a case where the main reason for trading him was that Tom Kelly just didn't like him. Walker went on to have a very good major league career while the player the Twins got back in the deal, Todd Sears, played just forty major league games. And it's not like the Twins had a hotshot second baseman knocking at the door to replace him--Canizaro was the regular for 2000 and they then went to Luis Rivas. I think a lot of TK, but he had his blind spots, and this was one of them.
The Twins batted .270, which was tied for tenth in the league. Cleveland and Kansas City led at .288.
Jones led the team in homers with 19. Coomer had 16, Lawton 13, and Ortiz 10. They finished dead last in home runs with 116, thirty-four behind the next lowest team. Toronto led the league with 240. When the juiced ball era came around, the Twins were conscientious objectors.
This was easily Mays' best game of the season. It was his only shutout and one of two complete games, the other being an eight-inning loss. He did not have a good year in 2000, going 7-15, 5.56, 1.62 WHIP. It shows how bad the Twins' pitching was that he was allowed to make 28 starts. Brad Radke was the staff ace, I guess, but he went 12-16, 4.45, 1.38. Eric Milton was the other mainstay of the rotation, making 33 starts and going 13-10, 4.86, 1.25. Others to make double-digit starts were Mark Redman (12-9, 4.76, 1.41), Sean Bergman (4-5, 9.66, 2.12--he made 14 starts!), and J. C. Romero (2-7, 7.02, 1.77).
The bullpen was better than that, but it wasn't particularly good either. The Twins posted an ERA of 5.14, tied for eleventh in the league. Toronto led at 4.23. The Twins were actually eighth in WHIP at 1.50. Boston led at 1.33. It was definitely a hitters' year.
This was the year Guzman hit twenty triples. He led the league, of course, one of three times he did so.
The was the second game of a stretch in which the Twins won five out of six. They did not have very many of those stretches in 2000.
Record: The Twins were 14-18, in fourth place in the American League Central, 4.5 games behind Chicago. They would finish 63-93, in fifth (last) place, 26 games behind Chicago.
The Tigers were 9-21, in fifth (last) place in the American League Central, 8.5 games behind Chicago. They would finish 79-83, in third place, 16 games behind Chicago.
Random Record: The Twins are 46-44 in Random Rewind games.