Tag Archives: unlikely stolen bases

1991 Rewind: ALCS Game One


Date:  Tuesday, October 8.

Batting stars:  Shane Mack was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base.  Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases.  Brian Harper was 2-for-4 with a double.  Dan Gladden was 2-for-5.  Chili Davis was 1-for-2 with two walks, two RBIs, and a stolen base.

Pitching stars:  Carl Willis retired all seven batters he faced, striking out two.  Rick Aguilera struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Joe Carter was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs.  Kelly Gruber was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a stolen base.  John Olerud was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.  Roberto Alomar was 2-for-4.  David Wells pitched three shutout innings, giving up two hits and two walks and striking out one.  Mike Timlin pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and one walk and striking out two.

The game:  Gladden and Knoblauch started the first inning with singles.  A fly ball and a stolen base moved them to second and third with two out.  Davis then came through with a two-run single to put the Twins up 2-0.  Mack led off the second with a single, stole second, and scored on a Greg Gagne single.  Singles by Gladden and Knoblauch brought home Gagne to make it 4-0.  In the third Davis walked, stole second, and scored on Mack's double to put the Twins up 5-0.

The Blue Jays started their comeback in the fourth.  Alomar singled and Carter doubled, but Alomar was thrown out at the plate.  Carter went to third on the throw, however, and scored on a ground out to make it 5-1.

The Twins loaded the bases in the fifth but did not score.  In the sixth Toronto got five consecutive one-out singles, by Devon White, Alomar, Carter, Olerud, and Gruber, to cut the lead to 5-4.  The Blue Jays had men on first and second with one out, but at that point Jack Morris was replaced by Willis, who retired the next two batters to get the Twins out of the inning.  The Blue Jays had only one baserunner after that, a two-out single by Olerud in the eighth.  The Twins held on to take game one 5-4.

WP:  Morris.  LP:  Tom Candiotti.  S:  Aguilera.

Notes:  Scott Leius pinch-hit for Mike Pagliarulo in the fifth inning and stayed in the game at third base.  Junior Ortiz came in to replace Brian Harper at catcher in the eighth.  Gene Larkin pinch-hit for Leius in the eighth, with Al Newman coming in to play third base in the ninth.

Morris pitched very well for four innings, got out of trouble in the fifth, but could not get out of the sixth.  Five consecutive singles sounds like bad luck, and maybe it was, but four of the five are described as line drives.  Willis really came in and saved the day, as he did so many times in the 1991 season.

I was a little surprised to see that the Blue Jays had gone with Candiotti as their game one starter.  Their other starters were Todd Stottlemyre, Jimmy Key, David Wells, and Juan Guzman.  But in 1991 Candiotti had a 2.65 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.  He was really good that year, and you can see why Toronto started him in game one.

Both teams hit well with men in scoring position.  The Blue Jays were 3-for-8 and the Twins were 4-for-12.  Toronto stranded four men and the Twins stranded eight.

The Twins weren't a particularly strong basestealing team, but they stole four bases in this game.  They were 4-for-6.  Candiotti, a knuckleballer, being on the mound probably influenced that.

Record:  The Twins led the best-of-seven series 1-0.

Game Recap #44: Hughes Corporation 2, Sandy Yagos 0

People always talk about how offense is what brings in the fans.  And historically, that's been true.  You can track attendance and offense, and there's a pretty good correlation there.  And yes, I know correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but it does not necessarily not mean it, either.  Most fans, especially casual fans, like to see runs scored.

But you know, when you follow a team and their pitching staff has been as bad as the Twins' staff has in recent years, it's a lot of fun to see a low-scoring, well-pitched game.  And of course, it's a lot more fun to see that sort of game when you're winning it.  Recently, the Twins have won a good share of that sort of game.  And it's been a lot of fun.

Phil Hughes pitched last night, and while he might not have quite been dominant he was pretty close.  Seven innings, seven strikeouts, seven hits (all singles), only one man past second base.  And he needed to be that good, because the Twins only got four hits.  One of those hits was a home run by Plouffe, which was a big insurance run.  Somehow, they also got stolen bases from Mauer and Kubel.  One can only assume this was Gardy adapting to the National League style of ball.

It's been asked just how optimistic we can be about this team.  It seems to me that part of being a fan is to be overly optimistic.  Not 162-0 level optimistic, maybe, but still.  Every year, even Cubs fans start the season by thinking, "Maybe this will be the year."  And you know what?  Almost every year some team that everyone thought would be lousy comes up and contends all season.  Sometimes they make the playoffs.  Sometimes they even win the World Series.  In spring training of 1987, no one was giving the Twins a chance.  Ditto spring training of 1991, when they'd finished last the year before.  The 2001 Twins had been candidates for contraction, and they led for a good share of the season before fading at the end.  In fact, while you didn't have the sort of media then that we have now, I suspect no one gave the 1965 Twins much of a chance in spring training, either.

Now, does that mean this team is a World Series team?  No.  It doesn't mean anything of the sort.  What it does mean, though, is that you can't never always sometimes tell.  It's easy to look at those Twins teams in retrospect and say they were good teams.  At the time, though, no one really believed it until they started winning and kept winning.

I have no idea what's going to happen over the next four months.  What I know is that it's almost Memorial Day, and we're two games over .500.  If the season ended today, well, a lot of teams would be shocked, because they think there's 115-120 games left.  But if the season ended today, the Twins would finish second and would miss the playoffs by a half game.  Will that happen?  Who knows?  But it could happen.  It's possible.  So why not be optimistic about it?

Having swept San Diego, the Twins take a well-earned day off, then move up the coast to take on the San Franciscos for three games.  These two wins are, of course, the start of a season-ending 120-game winning streak.  We're still on track for 141-21!