Tag Archives: when men were men

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-three

MINNESOTA 9, CLEVELAND 3 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Monday, September 2.

Batting stars:  Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs.  Kent Hrbek was 2-for-4 with two runs.  Shane Mack was 1-for-3 with a grand slam, his seventeenth home run.

Pitching stars:  Scott Erickson struck out seven in seven shutout innings, giving up six hits and two walks.  He threw 119 pitches.  Rick Aguilera pitched two perfect innings.

Opposition stars:  Mike Aldrete was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Albert Belle was 2-for-4 with a double.  Alex Cole was 2-for-4 with a walk.

The game:  Despite the final score, it was a pitchers' duel for six innings.  The Indians had a couple of mild threats, getting a two-out double from Carlos Baerga in the first and putting men on first and second with one out in the third.  The Twins did not get a hit until the fourth.  Knoblauch led off with a single and went to third with none out on a pickoff error, but he was thrown out trying to score on a ground ball to short (one assumes it was the contact play).  Cleveland put men on first and second with one out in the fifth and had men on first and third with one out in the sixth, but the latter threat went away when Carlos Martinez was thrown out at home on the back end of a second-and-home double steal.  So the game remained scoreless in the sixth.

The Twins broke through in the seventh.  Randy Bush led off with a walk.  Jarvis Brown pinch-ran and scored from first on Puckett's double.  Hrbek followed with an RBI single.  A pair of productive outs moved Hrbek to third and he scored on an error.  Junior Ortiz delivered an RBI double to put the Twins up 4-0.

The Indians came right back in the eighth.  Steve Bedrosian came in to pitch and walked Baerga.  Belle doubled, and RBI singles by Martinez and Aldrete made it 4-2.  Aguilera came on and got Jeff Manto to hit into a double play, but a run scored to make it 4-3.

Undaunted, the Twins put it away in the bottom of the eighth.  Knoblauch led off with a single and Chili Davis walked.  Puckett delivered an RBI single.  Hrbek laid down a bunt single, loading the bases.  Mack then hit a grand slam, making the score 9-3 and effectively ending the game.  Not literally, of course--Cleveland still batted in the ninth, but they went down in order.

WP:  Erickson (17-6).  LP:  Eric King (5-9).  S:  Aguilera (37).

Notes:  Mack was in left field, with Dan Gladden getting the day off.  Gene Larkin was in right.  Once again Ortiz caught Erickson, with Brian Harper on the bench.  Randy Bush was at DH in place of Davis.  Knoblauch led off, with Bush batting second.

Again, we had plenty of bench players used.  Brown pinch-ran for Bush in the seventh.  Davis pinch-hit for Brown in the eighth.  Al Newman then pinch-ran for Davis in the eighth.  Gladden pinch-ran for Larkin in the seventh and stayed in the game in left field, with Mack moving to right.  Paul Sorrento pinch-hit for Greg Gagne in the eighth.  Scott Leius went into the game at shortstop in the ninth.

Puckett raised his average to .330.  Mack raised his average to .310.  Mike Pagliarulo was 0-for-4 and was batting .300.  Erickson lowered his ERA to 3.08.

Tom Kelly allowing Erickson to throw seven innings and 114 pitches is at least questionable.  Yes, he was pitching well, and yes, it was a scoreless game until the seventh.  But he was obviously still hurting, this was the first good game he'd pitched in a month, and the Twins were in first place by eight games.  Plus, TK gave Gladden and Davis the day off, so he clearly did not consider this a must-win game.  It seems to me a lower pitch-limit would have been indicated, even though such things were not as common back then.

Using three pinch-runners in a game is certainly unusual.  Even back then the only way you could do it is with September call-ups, and with the new limit on September call-ups it may never happen again.  I think if I ran a team, I'd have a couple of pitchers practiced up so they could be used as pinch-runners when necessary.  It used to not be uncommon to use pitchers as pinch-runners--there's no real reason you couldn't do it today.  Yes, there's a chance someone could get hurt, but there's also a chance someone could get hurt running in the outfield before the game.  To me, with today's shorter benches, it makes perfect sense.

Oakland did not play, but the White Sox defeated Kansas City 5-1, so the two teams were once again tied for second place.

Record:  The Twins were 80-53, in first place in the American League West, 8.5 games ahead of Chicago and Oakland.

Toronto continued to lead Detroit by 2.5 games in the East.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twenty-eight

CLEVELAND 2, MINNESOTA 1 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Tuesday, August 27.

Batting star:  Scott Leius was 2-for-3.

Pitching star:  Jack Morris pitched 7.2 innings, giving up two runs on eleven hits and one walk and striking out two.

Opposition stars:  Greg Swindell pitched 8.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits and no walks and striking out six.  Albert Belle was 2-for-4 with a double.  Carlos Martinez was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.  Glenallen Hill was 2-for-4.

The game:  The Indians put men on first and second in the first inning but did not score.  The Twins got the scoring started in the third.  With one out, Leius singled, Greg Gagne doubled, and a sacrifice fly put Minnesota up 1-0.  Cleveland tied it in the fourth.  Mark Whiten and Mike Aldrete opened the inning with singles, putting men on first and third.  Martinez then hit into a force out to tie the score at 1-1.

The Indians put men on first and third with one out in the seventh but did not score.  In the eighth, however, Belle hit a one-out double and Whiten walked.  With two out, Martinez delivered an RBI single to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead.

The Twins threatened in the ninth.  With two out, Chili Davis and Kent Hrbek singled, putting men on first and second.  Randy Bush then grounded out to end the game.

WP:  Swindell (8-12).  LP:  Morris (15-10).  S:  Steve Olin (8).

Notes:  Gene Larkin was again at first base in place of Hrbek.  Hrbek pinch-hit for Brian Harper in the ninth.  Al Newman pinch-ran for Davis in the ninth.  Bush pinch-hit for Shane Mack in the ninth.

Kirby Puckett was 0-for-4 and was batting .327.  Harper was 1-for-3 and was batting .313.  Mack was 0-for-3 and was batting .301.

The Indians stranded nine men and were 1-for-11 with men in scoring position.

Olin had started the season with Cleveland, but got off to a poor start and was sent back to AAA in mid-May.  He came back to the majors in mid-July and almost immediately took over the closer role.  He was the Indians closer for all of the 1992 season and had a fine year.  He probably would've remained in that role for some time to come, but as many of you know, he was killed that off-season in a boating accident.

Morris threw 122 pitches.  He pitched well, but unfortunately was not able to sufficiently pitch to the score.

The White Sox again lost, falling to Kansas City 3-2.  Oakland lost again as well, falling to Boston 6-4.

Record:  The Twins were 76-52, in first place in the American League West, eight games ahead of Chicago and Oakland.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Twenty-three

MINNESOTA 5, SEATTLE 4 IN MINNESOTA (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Thursday, August 22.

Batting stars:  Randy Bush was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his fifth) and a walk.  Brian Harper was 2-for-4.  Kent Hrbek was 2-for-5 with a double.  Chuck Knoblauch was 2-for-5.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5.

Pitching stars:  Jack Morris struck out seven in 6.1 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and five walks.  Rick Aguilera pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Rick DeLucia pitched 6.1 innings, giving up one run on six hits and two walks and striking out three.  Greg Briley was 3-for-5 with two stolen bases, his seventeenth and eighteenth.  Pete O'Brien was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Jay Buhner was 2-for-5 with a double.  Edgar Martinez was 2-for-6 with a double and two runs.  Harold Reynolds was 2-for-6 with a double.

The game:  Martinez led off the game with a single, went to second on a ground out, and scored on an O'Brien single to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.  Each team missed a chance in the second.  In the third O'Brien hit a two-out single and scored on Buhner's double to make it 2-0 Seattle.

Each team put a man on second in the fourth but neither scored.  The Twins had two on in the sixth and the Mariners loaded the bases in the seventh, but the score remained 2-0.  The Twins finally got on the board in the seventh when Mike Pagliarulo doubled and scored on Knoblauch's two-out single.  Seattle came right back in the eighth.  Dave Cochrane singled, and with two out Martinez had an RBI double and Reynolds had a run-scoring single, putting the Mariners ahead 4-1.

It was still 4-1 going to the bottom of the ninth.  With one out, Al Newman walked, Knoblauch singled, and Bush hit a three-run homer to tie the score 4-4.  Seattle went down in order in the top of the tenth.  With two out and none on in the bottom of the tenth, Leius hit a walkoff home run to win the game for the Twins.

WP:  Aguilera (4-4).  LP:  Mike Schooler (0-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Shane Mack was in left field, with Dan Gladden out of the lineup.  Gene Larkin took Mack's place in right.  Knoblauch was the leadoff batter, with Bush batting second.  Bush replaced Chili Davis in the DH slot.  Newman was again at shortstop in place of Greg Gagne.

The Twins again made liberal use of their bench.  Gagne pinch-ran for Brian Harper in the eighth.  Davis pinch-hit for Larkin in the eighth and stayed in the game in left field, with Mack moving to right.  Junior Ortiz replaced Gagne in the ninth and was the catcher.  Gladden pinch-hit for Pagliarulo in the ninth and stayed in the game in left field, replacing Davis.  Leius entered the game in the tenth at third base.

Puckett raised his average to .330.  Harper went up to .312.  Mack was 0-for-4 and was batting .306.  Aguilera lowered his ERA to 2.38.

The Twins stranded nine men and went 2-for-12 with men in scoring position.  The Mariners stranded fourteen men and went 2-for-19 with men in scoring position.

Morris threw 137 pitches in his 6.1 innings.

It seemed odd that Schooler had not had a decision before this game, but he missed the first half of 1991, not appearing in his first game until July 12.  He had five saves to this point.

Edgar Martinez was the leadoff batter for Seattle in this series.  It was his second full season, and he was still primarily a third baseman at this point.  He batted leadoff 67 times in 1991 and was good at it.  He didn't steal any bases, which is no surprise, but he batted .307 as a leadoff batter with an OBP of .405.  He would move down to (primarily) the number two spot in 1992 and would not return to the number one position.

The White Sox did not play and Oakland defeated California 2-1, so those two teams moved in to a "virtual tie" for second place.

Record:  The Twins were 74-49, in first place in the American League West, six games ahead of Chicago and Oakland.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Eighteen

MINNESOTA 12, OAKLAND 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, August 17.

Batting stars:  Chuck Knoblauch was 3-for-5 with two runs.  Kent Hrbek was 2-for-2 with three walks and three runs.  Chili Davis was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Brian Harper was 2-for-4.  Shane Mack was 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5 with two runs.

Pitching stars:  Jack Morris pitched a complete game, giving up four runs on eight hits and no walks and striking out six.  He threw 113 pitches.

Opposition stars:  Jose Canseco was 2-for-4 with a home run (his thirty-fourth), two runs, and two RBIs.  Harold Baines was 2-for-4.

The game:  The Athletics opened the game consecutive singles by Rickey Henderson, Dave Henderson, Canseco, and Baines, producing two runs.  A double play made it 3-0 in the top of the first.  The Twins got on the board in the second when Hrbek walked, went to third on a Davis single, and scored on a ground out.  Oakland got the run right back in the third when Canseco homered, giving the Athletics a 4-1 lead.

It was all Minnesota after that.  In the bottom of the third Dan Gladden led off with a walk and scored on Knoblauch's double.  Puckett followed with an RBI single, and singles by Hrbek and Harper brought home another run, tying the score 4-4.  The Twins had two out and nobody on in the fifth, but a walk to Hrbek, a single by Davis, and a walk to Harper loaded the bases.  Mack then unloaded them with a three-run double to give the Twins a 7-4 lead.

The Twins kept adding on.  In the sixth, again with two out and none on, singles by KnoblauchPuckett, and Hrbek scored one run, a walk to Davis loaded the bases, and Harper delivered a two-run single to increase the lead to 10-4.  In the seventh, Mike Pagliarulo doubled, went to third on an Al Newman single, and scored on a sacrifice fly.  The Twins finished the scoring in the eighth when a Hrbek walk, a Gene Larkin single, and a double play produced the team's twelfth run.

WP:  Morris (15-9).  LP:  Bob Welch (10-8).  S:  None.

Notes:  Newman was at shorstop, replacing Greg Gagne.  Gagne would play the next day, but then would miss two days and be used as a late-game replacement in three more before returning to the starting lineup August 24.

Larkin pinch-hit for Davis in the eighth.  Randy Bush pinch-ran for Hrbek in the eighth and stayed in the game at first base.

Puckett raised his average to .325.  Harper raised his average to .305.

Welch pitched 5.2 innings.  He was allowed to stay in the game long enough to allow nine runs on eleven hits and four walks.  He struck out one.  The Athletics had used six pitchers in the twelve-inning game the day before, so I assume Welch was simply being asked to take one for the team.  He threw one hundred pitches.  Eric Show pitched the rest of the game, going 2,1 innings while allowing three runs on five hits and two walks.

I know it was a different era, but there was still no real reason for Morris to pitch a complete game.  The Twins had used only four pitchers in the previous game, and one of them had only thrown six pitches.  The game was well in hand after six.  Yes, I know Morris didn't want to come out of games, but that's why you have someone called "the manager" who makes decisions that are in the best long-term interest of both the player and the team.  I'm glad that, for the most part, we've moved past that phony macho thinking in baseball.

By game scores, this was actually Welch's third-worst game of the season.  The worst was on May 5, when he allowed eleven runs (eight earned) on thirteen hits and two walks in 4.2 innings for a game score of two.  The second-worst was June 28, when he allowed nine runs (eight earned) on nine hits and three walks in three innings for a game score of five.  His game score in this game was eight.  Those three games probably went a long way to giving him an ERA of 4.58 for the season.

Knoblauch was 8-for-13 with two doubles and two walks over his last three games.

Canseco had three home runs in the two games of the series.

The White Sox lost to the Yankees 4-2, so the Twins were starting to put some space between themselves and second place.

Record:  The Twins were 70-48, in first place in the American League West, 3.5 games ahead of Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Eleven

SEATTLE 8, MINNESOTA 0 IN SEATTLE

Date:  Saturday, August 10.

Batting stars:  Mike Pagliarulo was 3-for-4.  Randy Bush was 2-for-4 with a double.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Carl Willis pitched five shutout innings, giving up four hits and two walks and striking out two.  Terry Leach pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Erik Hanson pitched eight shutout innings, giving up eight hits and a walk and striking out four.  Ken Griffey was 3-for-5 with a stolen base, his tenth.  Dave Cochrane was 2-for-4 with a home run (his second), a double, two runs, and three RBIs.

The game:  The Twins put men on second and third with two out in the first inning but did not score.  It cost them, as the Mariners jumped out for five runs in the bottom of the first.  Edgar Martinez walked and moved to third on a pickoff error.  Harold Reynolds singled him home, Griffey singled, and Pete O'Brien had an RBI single.  A ground out scored the third run, Cochrane doubled home the fourth run, and Omar Vizquel singled home the fifth run.

The Twins got two on with none out in the sixth and loaded the bases with two out in the seventh, but there was no more scoring until the bottom of the seventh.  Paul Abbott, who had come into the game in the sixth, walked O'Brien, but he was erased on a double play.  Jay Buhner then walked and Cochrane hit a two-run homer to make the score 7-0.  Scott Bradley singled, and consecutive walks to Vizquel, Martinez, and Reynolds brought home an eighth run.  The Twins did not threaten after that.

WP:  Hanson (7-5).  LP:  Scott Erickson (15-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Dan Gladden got the day off.  Shane Mack was in left, with Randy Bush in right.  Chuck Knoblauch batted leadoff, with Bush second.  Junior Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.  Al Newman was at short in place of Greg Gagne.

With a blowout game, the Twins made some substitutions in the eighth.  Gene Larkin replaced Puckett and went to first base.  Harper replaced Kent Hrbek and went to left field.  Scott Leius replaced Mack and went to center field.

Puckett was batting .327.

Willis lowered his ERA to 1.88.  Leach's ERA went to 2.85.

The Twins stranded nine runners and went 1-for-7 with men in scoring position.

Erickson surrendered five runs on five hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning.  His ERA went from 2.36 to 2.65.  He clearly was still hurting, but did not miss a start, even though he would not have a good one again until September.  This game was his worst of the season by game scores.  I guess I don't really understand how game scores work.  He got a 20 for this, which is obviously not good, but he got a 22 for a game on June 29 when he allowed seven runs on eleven hits in 6.1 innings.  It seems to me that, while neither start was good, this one was a lot worse than that one, and yet they're pretty much even according to game scores.

This was one of eight career home runs for Cochrane.  He played for the White Sox in 1986 and was with the Mariners from 1989-1992.  He had 218 career games and 562 plate appearances, batting .235/.294/.333.  As John Gordon would say, he played around, playing 54 games of outfield, 53 games of third base, 43 games behind the plate, 39 games at shortstop, 19 games of first base, and five games of second base.  In today's era of small benches, he'd have been more valuable.  Even at that time, he'd have had a long career if he could've hit a little more.

Over his first fifty-six starts, from 1988-1990, Erik Hanson was really good.  He went 29-17, 3.22, 1.16 WHIP with 322 strikeouts in 391 innings.  He threw 236 innings in 1990, many more than he had thrown previously.  Whether that made the difference or not, he was not the same pitcher after that.  He had a couple of decent years after that, but he was never the kind of dominant pitcher he had been.  He's apparently also a fine golfer, qualifying for the U. S. Senior Open in 2015.

The White Sox defeated Baltimore 6-4, cutting the Twins' lead in half.

Record:  The Twins were 66-45, in first place in the American League West, one game ahead of Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Seven

MINNESOTA 7, CALIFORNIA 4 IN CALIFORNIA

Date:  Monday, August 5.

Batting stars:  Dan Gladden was 3-for-5 with a stolen base (his eighth) and two runs.  Randy Bush was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Kevin Tapani pitched 8.2 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and no walks and striking out six.  He threw 125 pitches.

Opposition stars:  Dave Winfield was 2-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-first) and a stolen base, his third.  Gary Gaetti was 1-for-4 with a home run, his thirteenth.  Chris Beasley pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit and striking out two.

The game:  One could say the Twins got off to a good start.  Gladden led off with a single.  Chuck Knoblauch walked.  Kent Hrbek had an RBI single.  Chili Davis walked, loading the bases.  Brian Harper hit a two-run double.  Bush hit a two-run double.  Six batters in, the Twins led 5-0 and there were no outs.  That was all the runs the Twins would need.

It wasn't the end of the game, of course.  The Angels got a run in the first on two singles and a double play.  Gaetti homered leading off the second to make it 5-2.  It stayed 5-2 until the sixth, when Winfield homered to cut the margin to 5-3.

The Twins had done very little of offense since the first.  In the seventh, however, Greg Gagne reached on an error, stole second, and scored on Gladden's single.  Gladden then stole second and scored on a two-out double by Davis to put the Twins' lead back up to four runs at 7-3.

California did not give up.  Dave Parker hit a one-out double in the ninth.  With two out Lance Parris doubled to make it 7-4.  Rick Aguilera then came in to retire Dave Gallagher on a line out to end the game.

WP:  Tapani (9-7).  LP:  Joe Grahe (1-2).  S:  Aguilera (29).

Notes:  Kirby Puckett got a rare day off.  Shane Mack was in center, with Bush in right.

Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .314.  Tapani's ERA went to 3.03.  Aguilera dropped his ERA to 2.63.

This was the highest number of pitches (125) that Tapani would throw in a game all year.  He went over 100 pitches in 19 of his 34 starts, including his first five starts of the season and his last six starts of the season.  In eight of those starts he went over 110 pitches.  This was the only time he went over 120.  1991 was his career high for innings as well, with 244.

On the other hand, Aguilera threw one pitch.

Grahe, the Angels' starter, pitched seven innings.  He allowed seven runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks and struck out one.  It should be noted that he pitched very well after the first inning.  He had done very little up to this point in his career, but he would go on to have two pretty good years (1992-1993) pitching out of the California bullpen.  He had 21 saves for the Angels in 1992, when he was filling in for Bryan Harvey.  He battled injuries starting in 1994 and was out of baseball for three years.  He came back to pitch in thirteen games for Philadelphia in 1998 before ending his career.

The White Sox were idle, so the Twins gained a half game.

Record:  The Twins were 64-43, in first place in the American League West, 3.5 games ahead of Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Four

OAKLAND 3, MINNESOTA 1 IN OAKLAND

Date:  Friday, August 2.

Batting stars:  Chili Davis was 2-for-4.  Brian Harper was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk.  Greg Gagne was 1-for-2 with a walk.

Pitching star:  Jack Morris pitched an eight-inning complete game, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks and striking out nine.

Opposition stars:  Bob Welch pitched a complete game, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks and striking out five.  Rickey Henderson was 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, his thirty-fifth.  Terry Steinbach was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.

The game:  There was no score through two.  Harper led off the third with a double.  He was still on second with two out, but Chuck Knoblauch delivered an RBI single to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  Unfortunately, that was the only run the Twins would get.

In the bottom of the third Mike Gallego singled and Rickey Henderson walked, putting men on first and second with two out.  Dave Henderson then singled to tie it 1-1.  In the fourth Steinbach doubled and scored on a two-out single by Mark McGwire to give the Athletics a 2-1 lead.  The Twins had a chance to tie it in the seventh when Davis led off with a double.  Harper drew a one-out walk, but a strikeout/throw out double play ended the inning.

Oakland got an insurance run in the eighth without getting a hit.  With one out, Jose Canseco was hit by a pitch and stole second.  Harold Baines was intentionally walked.  A wild pitch moved the runners up and led to another intentional walk, this time to Steinbach.  Brook Jacoby then hit an RBI ground out to make it 3-1.

The Twins got a two-out single from Davis in the ninth, bringing the tying run to bat, but Shane Mack flied out to end the game.

WP:  Welch (9-6).  LP:  Morris (13-8).  S:  None.

Notes:  It was a standard lineup with no substitutions.  Kirby Puckett was 0-for-4, dropping his average to .328.  Harper raised his average to .312.

Both pitchers threw a complete game and neither team used a substitute.  The ten players on each side who started the game finished the game.  I don't know how unusual that is, but it's definitely unusual.  Morris threw 132 pitches, Welch 121.

Morris had ten complete games in 1991.  He was 6-4 in those games.

The Twins were 0-for-4 in stealing bases in this game.  The players caught stealing were Dan GladdenHarper, Davis, and Kent HrbekHrbek was caught trying to steal second on a strikeout/throw out on a full count with one out in the second. Harper was caught trying to steal second with one out in the fifth.  Davis was caught trying to steal third on a strikeout/throw out on a full count with one out in the seventh.  Gladden was caught trying to steal second with two out in the eighth.

Welch was coming off his Cy Young season in 1990, when he went 27-6, 2.95.  He struggled in 1991, going just 12-13, 4.58.  He would bounce back to have a solid season in 1992, but then fell apart, struggling through two more poor years before calling it quits.

The White Sox lost to Baltimore 3-0, so the gap between the two remained the same.

Record:  The Twins were 61-43, in first place in the American League West, two games ahead of Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game Ninety-eight

MINNESOTA 7, MILWAUKEE 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, July 27.

Batting stars:  Chuck Knoblauch was 3-for-3 with a triple, a double, a walk, and a stolen base (his twelfth).  Dan Gladden was 2-for-5 with a three-run homer (his fifth) and two runs.

Pitching starPaul Abbott pitched four innings of relief, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk and striking out three.  Carl Willis retired all four batters he faced, striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Candy Maldonado was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer, his third.   Dale Sveum was 2-for-4 with a home run (his fourth) and two RBIs.  Paul Molitor was 2-for-5 with a double.  Dante Bichette was 2-for-5 with two runs.

The game:  The Twins scored two in the first inning.  Gladden singled and Knoblauch followed with a double.  A pair of productive out made the score 2-0.  Sveum hit a home run in the second to cut the lead to 2-1.  In the fourth the Brewers got two singles, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly to tie the score 2-2.

The Twins took the lead back in the bottom of the fourth.  Kent Hrbek walked, and Chili Davis and Brian Harper each singled, loading the bases with none out.  A fielder's choice/error scored one run and a force out scored another, and the Twins led 4-2.

It stayed 4-2 until the eighth.  Abbott had pitched three scoreless innings, but he gave up a leadoff single to Bichette followed by Maldonado's two-run homer, and the score was tied 4-4.

No problem.  Milwaukee starter Bill Wegman was still in the game to start the ninth.  He retired Mike Pagliarulo on a grounder, but gave up singles to Shane Mack and Randy Bush.  Now approaching one hundred twenty pitches, he remained in the game to face Gladden.  It was a mistake, as Gladden hit a walkoff three-run homer down the left field line.

WP:  Willis (5-2).  LP:  Wegman (6-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  This is the first time in a long time where the Twins completely used what one would call their standard lineup.  No one injured, no one being rested.  Bush pinch-hit for Greg Gagne in the ninth and Al Newman pinch-ran for Bush.

Kirby Puckett was 0-for-4 and was batting .333.  Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .318.  Abbott's ERA was 3.43.  Willis lowered his ERA to 2.36.

It seems really strange that Tom Trebelhorn left Wegman in to pitch a complete game.  It's true that he hadn't given up a run since the fourth, but he wasn't exactly blowing people away, either.  He'd given up a hit in each of the last three innings.  He didn't have a low pitch count--he ended at one hundred twenty-two pitches.  He was their best starter that year, and apart from Doug Henry their bullpen was nothing to brag about.  Still, it was well-rested, and if you're not going to use them then there's no point in having them.

Gladden was 5-for-15 with two doubles and a home run since his return.

The Twins had won three in a row and seven out of nine.  The White Sox won, so the Twins neither gained nor lost ground.

Record:  The Twins were 58-40, in first place in the American League West, four games ahead of Chicago.

1991 Rewind: Game Eighty-six

MINNESOTA 3, BOSTON 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, July 13.

Batting stars:  Shane Mack was 3-for-3 with a triple, a stolen base, and a walk.  Al Newman was 3-for-4.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4.

Pitching star:  Jack Morris pitched 8.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits and no walks and striking out two.

Opposition star:  Dennis Lamp pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.

The game:  One-out singles by Newman and Puckett put men on first and third and Chili Davis followed with a sacrifice fly, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead.  Junior Ortiz led off the second with a single and two-out singles by Newman and Puckett made the score 2-0 Twins.  Mack hit a one-out triple in the fifth and scored on a sacrifice fly to increase the lead to 3-0.

The Red Sox didn't do much on offense for the first five innings, only once getting a man as far as second base.  They got on the board on the sixth, though, as Luis Rivera tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly.  They did not get a man to second base after that, and so the Twins took the 3-1 victory.

WP:  Morris (12-6).  LP:  Kevin Morton (1-1).  S: Rick Aguilera (24).

Notes:  Newman was in left field in place of Dan Gladden in this game.  Mack was in right.  Ortiz was once again behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.  Chuck Knoblauch moved up to the leadoff spot, with Newman batting second.  Jarvis Brown pinch-ran for Newman in the sixth and stayed in the game in right field, with Mack moving to left.

Puckett raised his average to .319.  Morris lowered his ERA to 3.50.  Aguilera came in to get the last two outs and had an ERA of 2.63.

This was the only game Newman played in left field in 1991 and the last game he started there in his career.  For his career he played eleven games there, six starts.  He seems like an odd choice to play left and to bat second, but given that he got three hits one has to say that it worked.

Given how he'd been used all season, it was surprising to see Morris come out of the game in the ninth.  He'd seemed to be in control, giving up just five hits.  One of those hits came with one out in the ninth, and resulted in his leaving the game.  He had thrown just ninety-two pitches.  I'm not arguing that it was the wrong move, and it certainly worked.  It's just that, given how long Morris had remained in games for the first part of the season, I'd have expected him to be given more of a chance to finish the game.

This was Kevin Morton's second career start.  He was just twenty-two years old.  He had made a tremendous debut, giving up just one run in a complete game victory over Detroit.  He didn't pitch badly here, either, going 5.2 innings and giving up three runs on nine hits and three walks and striking out two.  He was in the Boston rotation the rest of the season and was kind of up and down, as one would expect from a twenty-two year old rookie.  For the season, he was 6-5, 4.59, nothing to shout about but not bad given his age.  It would be his only season in the major leagues.  He was awful in Pawtucket in 1992 and pitched poorly in AA for Kansas City in 1993.  He did better, though not great, in AAA for the Mets in 1994, but did not pitch well in AAA for the Cubs in 1995 and then was done.  I wonder if he got hurt--he looked like a reasonably promising young pitcher in 1991, and then never really did anything after that.  I couldn't find anything out about that, but it does look like he's an instructor for IST Sports, which provides baseball instruction in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Texas lost to Toronto 3-2, so the Twins gained another game in the standings.

Record:  The Twins were 50-36, in first place in the American League West, three games ahead of Texas.

1991 Rewind: Game Seventy-five

CHICAGO 8, MINNESOTA 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, June 29.

Batting stars:  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (his tenth) and a double.  Chili Davis was 2-for-4 with a home run, his nineteenth.  Kent Hrbek was 1-for-4 with a home run, his seventh.

Pitching star:  Terry Leach pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  Dan Pasqua was 4-for-5 with a home run (his seventh), a triple, and three RBIs.  Ozzie Guillen was 3-for-4 with a stolen base (his thirteenth) and two RBIs.  Robin Ventura was 2-for-3 with a double and two walks.  Lance Johnson was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs.  Tim Raines was 2-for-5 with a double, two runs, and two RBIs.  Greg Hibbard pitched a complete game, giving up four runs on seven hits and a walk and striking out one.

The game:  The White Sox opened the game with singles by Raines, Ventura, and Frank Thomas, taking a 1-0 lead.  A strikeout and a double play prevented further damage, and the Twins bounced back in the bottom of the first.  Chuck Knoblauch singled, Puckett hit a two-run homer, and Davis homered, putting the Twins up 3-1.

It stayed 3-1 until the fourth, when Pasqua led off with a homer to make it 3-2.  It stayed 3-2 until the seventh, when Chicago exploded for five runs.  Singles by Matt Merullo and Johnson started the inning.  With one out, Guillen had an RBI single to tie it and Raines' two-run double put the White Sox ahead.  Ventura was intentionally walked, and with two out Pasqua hit a two-run triple, giving Chicago a 7-3 lead.

It was pretty much over at that point.  Hrbek homered in the seventh to cut the lead to 7-4, but the White Sox got the run back in the eighth when Johnson doubled and scored on a Guillen single.  After the Hrbek homer the Twins got only one baserunner, a Davis single in the ninth.

WP:  Hibbard (6-6).  LP:  Scott Erickson (12-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Shane Mack was in left replacing Dan Gladden.  Pedro Munoz was in right.  With Erickson pitching, Junior Ortiz was behind the plate in place of Brian Harper.

Puckett raised his average to .322.  Erickson pitched 6.1 innings, allowing seven runs on eleven hits and two walks and striking out one.  His ERA went up to 1.83.  Leach lowered his ERA to 3.16.

Erickson pitched well for six innings.  He would not pitch again, however, until July 15 and was not really the same pitcher the rest of the season.  He obviously could not be expected to keep up the pace of a 1.39 ERA, which he had going into this game, but it seems logical to think overuse played a part in his pitching.  He was twenty-three years old in 1991 and this was his sixteenth start.  He pitched 122.2 innings, never pitching fewer than six and only three times pitching fewer than seven.  He threw a hundred pitches or more eleven times, more than 110 seven times, one hundred twenty or more three times, and over 130 once (134).  Erickson would go on to have some good years in his career, but he was never the dominant pitcher he was for the first half of 1991.  Maybe he'd have gotten hurt at some point anyway, or maybe he wouldn't have remained dominant, but one has to wonder what his career might have looked like if the Twins had taken batter care of him.

Greg Hibbard was a solid major league starter for five seasons.  He came up with the White Sox in 1989 at age twenty-four and had his best season in 1990, when he went 14-9, 3.16, 1.22 WHIP.  He was with the White Sox through 1992, but they left him unprotected in the expansion draft and he was chosen by Florida.  They immediately traded him to the Cubs, for whom he pitched in 1993.  He became a free agent after the season and signed with Seattle in 1994.  He immediately began to have shoulder problems, tried to pitch through it with awful results, and was done after the 1994 season.  He has been a minor league pitching coach since 1999, most recently for the Frisco RoughRiders in the Rangers organization.  For his career he was 57-50, 4.05, 1.35 WHIP in 990 innings.  Not a superstar, but in his good years he was someone you'd be happy to have to fill out your rotation.

Their hot streak ended, the Twins had now lost four in a row, all at home, and their best pitcher was now injured.  Was their hot month just an illusion?  We'll see.

Record:  The Twins were 44-31, in first place in the American League West, two games ahead of California.