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2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Forty-two

MINNESOTA 5, TEXAS 4 IN MINNESOTA (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Sunday, September 7.

Batting stars:  Michael Ryan was 2-for-3 with a home run (his third), a double, a walk, and two runs.  Doug Mientkiewicz was 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Grant Balfour pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Rick Reed pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Gerald Laird was 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.  Michael Young was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.  Alex Rodriguez was 1-for-4 with a home run (his forty-second) and two walks.

The game:  Rodriguez homered with two out in the first to put the Rangers up 1-0.  Ryan countered with a home run leading off the bottom of the first to tie it 1-1.  In the third, Texas opened the inning with three singles, loading the bases with none out.  A home-and-first double play gave the Twins hope of getting out of the inning, but an intentional walk to Rodriguez was followed by an accidental walk to Rafael Palmeiro, putting the Rangers back up 2-1.

The Twins tied it in the fourth when Torii Hunter hit a two-out double and scored from second on a wild pitch (Twins Baseball!).  They went ahead 3-2 in the fifth when Denny Hocking hit a two-out double and scored on Mientkiewicz' single.  Texas went back in front in the sixth when Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch, Hank Blalock reached on an error, and Laird delivered a two-run triple to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead.

The Twins tied it in the seventh when Ryan doubled and scored on a Mientkiewicz single.  It stayed tied through nine.  In the tenth Mientkiewicz walked, Matthew LeCroy singled, and Jacque Jones reached on an error, loading the bases with none out.  Hunter then hit a sacrifice fly to win the game for the Twins.

WP:  Reed (6-12).  LP:  Francisco Cordero (4-7).  S:  None.

Notes:  Hocking was at second base in place of Luis Rivas.  Ryan was in left with Jones in right.

Lew Ford pinch-hit for Cristian Guzman in the seventh.  Chris Gomez came in to play short in the eighth.  Michael Cuddyer pinch-hit for Ryan in the ninth and stayed in the game in left field.  Justin Morneau pinch-hit for Hocking in the ninth.  Alex Prieto came i to play second in the tenth.  Michael Restovich pinch-ran for LeCroy in the tenth.

Ryan raised his average to .391.  Ford was 0-for-1 and was batting .321.  Jones was 1-for-5 and was batting .306.  Pierzynski was 0-for-3 and was batting .302.  Mientkiewicz raised his average to .301.

This was Prieto's first appearance for the Twins since August 2.  It was Restovich's first appearance since August 17.

Kenny Rogers started and pitched 5.2 innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on seven hits and three walks and striking out four.  J. C. Romero retired both men he faced to lower his ERA to 5.10.  LaTroy Hawkins struck out the only man he faced to lower his ERA to 1.97.  Reed lowered his ERA to 5.02.  This was his first appearance since August 17.

This was Laird's first career triple, and it came in his ninth major league game.  He would play 790 more games and hit eight more triples.  His season high was three, in 2007.

The Twins had won five in a row, eight of ten, and ten of thirteen.  Chicago and Kansas City both won, so there was no change in the standings.

Record:  The Twins were 76-66, tied with Chicago for first place in the American League Central, three games ahead of Kansas City.

2003 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-four

MINNESOTA 8, TEXAS 5 IN TEXAS

Date:  Friday, August 29.

Batting stars:  Doug Mientkiewicz was 4-for-5.  Shannon Stewart was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs.  Matthew LeCroy was 1-for-3 with a home run (his fifteenth) and a walk.

Pitching stars:  Carlos Pulido pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.  Grant Balfour pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  LaTroy Hawkins struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.  Eddie Guardado pitched a perfect inning and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Mark Teixeira was 2-for-4 with a triple.  Todd Greene was 2-for-4.  Hank Blalock was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Laynce Nix was 1-for-3 with a three-run homer (his fifth) and a walk.

The game:  LeCroy had the game's first hit in the second inning and it was a home run, putting the Twins up 1-0.  The Rangers tied it in the bottom of the second when Teixeira hit a two-out triple and scored on Greene's single.  Texas took a big lead in the third.  Michael Young led off with a double, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a sacrifice fly.  With two out and none on, Rafael Palmeiro doubled, Shane Spencer walked, and Nix hit a three-run homer to put the Rangers ahead 5-1.

The Twins started their comeback in the fifth.  Singles by Torii Hunter and Cristian Guzman were followed by a ground out, putting men on second and third with two down.  Stewart delivered a two-run single, cutting the lead to 5-3.  The Twins sent just three men to the plate in each of the sixth and seventh innings, however, leaving the score 5-3 as we went to the eighth.

In the eighth, Stewart doubled, but was still on second with two out.  Mientkiewicz had an RBI single to make the score 5-4.  Walks to LeCroy and Jacque Jones loaded the bases and a Dazzle Special (wild pitch) tied the score.  Hunter was then intentionally walked to load the bases and A. J. Pierzynski was hit by a pitch to put the Twins up 6-5.  Twins Baseball!!!!

Texas put men on first and third in the eighth but did not score.  In the ninth, Chris Gomez and Luis Rivas singled to put men on first and second.  Mientkiewicz then came through again, getting a two-run single-plus-error to give the Twins an 8-5 lead.  The Rangers went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Balfour (1-0).  LP:  John Thomson (12-11).  S:  Guardado (30).

Notes:  Denny Hocking remained at third in place of Corey Koskie.  Jones was in left and Stewart in right.

Michael Ryan pinch-hit for Guzman in the eighth.  Gomez went in at shortstop in the ninth.  Dustan Mohr pinch-ran for LeCroy in the eighth.

Ryan was 0-for-1 and was batting .375.  Stewart was batting .314.  Jones was 0-for-3 and was batting .308.  Mientkiewicz raised his average to .303.

Joe Mays lasted just three innings, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks and striking out one.  His ERA was 6.37.  This was his last start of the season.  He would make just one more appearance, then be shut down for the rest of the season.  The bullpen bailed the Twins out, pitching six shutout innings and giving up five hits and a walk and striking out five.

This was Pulido's first appearance in the majors since 1994, a gap of nine years.  In between he played for a few different organizations and also played in Japan, Taiwan, and independent ball.

This was Balfour's first major league win.  In a pennant race, Ron Gardenhire used two pitchers who people had no reason to have much confidence in, and they rewarded him with four shutout innings and a win.

Pulido's ERA was zero.  Balfour's ERA was 1.76.  Hawkins had an ERA of 2.10.

Kansas City and Chicago both lost, so the Twins gained ground on both.

Record:  The Twins were 70-64, in third place in the American League Central, a half game behind both Chicago and Kansas City, who were tied for first.