Tag Archives: when men were men

Random Rewind: 1985, Game One Hundred Fifty-three


Date:  Thursday, September 26.

Batting star:  Kent Hrbek was 3-for-4.

Pitching star:  Mike Smithson pitched an eight-inning complete game, giving up two runs on six hits and four walks and striking out four.

Opposition stars:  Jose Guzman pitched 8.2 scoreless innings, giving up six hits and a walk and striking out five.  Gary Ward was 3-for-3 with a stolen base, his twenty-second.  Pete O'Brien was 1-for-1 with a home run (his twenty-first) and three walks.  I guess they should've walked him the other time, too.

The game:  The Twins put man on second and third with two out in the first inning but did not score.  That was as close as the Twins would come to scoring all night.

The Rangers didn't get anything accomplished in the first three innings, either, but in the fourth O'Brien hit a one-out homer to give Texas a 1-0 lead.  They added a run in the seventh on singles by Ward and Bob Jones, a walk to Duane Walker, and an infield out.

The Twins put one more threat together in the ninth, when Kent Hrbek and Tom Brunansky singled with two out.  Dwayne Henry came in and struck out Mark Salas to end the game.

WP:  Guzman (2-2).  LP:  Smithson (14-13).  S:  Henry (2).

Notes:  Jeff Reed, who was a September call-up, started behind the plate in place of Salas.  Salas mostly platooned with Tim Laudner in 1985.

Roy Smalley was at shortstop in place of Greg Gagne.  Smalley was used at DH more than any other position, but he still played a significant number of games at short in 1985.  Salas was the DH in this game.

Dave Engle pinch-hit for Reed in the eighth and stayed in the game behind the plate.  Gagne replaced Smalley at shortstop in the eighth.  Smalley would miss the next couple of games--perhaps he tweaked something.  If not, it seems odd to make a defensive substitution in a game you're losing by two runs.

Salas was batting .301.  He would be the team's lone .300 hitter, at least of players with a significant number of at-bats, as he finished at exactly .300.

The team leader in home runs was Brunansky at 27.  Hrbek had 21 and Gary Gaetti 20.  Also in double figures were Smalley (12), Randy Bush (10), and Tim Teufel (10).

Smithson had eight complete games in 1985.  From 1983-1986 he had 36 complete games and led the league in starts in two of those seasons.  That may be why he was pretty much done after 1986.

This was the year Bert Blyleven came back to the Twins in early August.  He was easily the team's best starter the rest of the season.  Other starters were SmithsonFrank ViolaJohn Butcher, and Ken Schrom.  Viola was the best of the rest, going 18-14, 4.09, 1.32 WHIP.

Even though he shut them down in this game, the Twins did pretty well most of the time against Guzman.  He was 5-6, 4.25, 1.45 WHIP against them.  This was only the fourth start of his major league career, as he came up as a September call-up.

Texas really didn't have a closer in 1985.  Seven different pitchers had saves, with Greg Harris leading with eleven.  Henry was in his rookie year, coming up in mid-August.

Record:  The Twins were 70-83, in sixth place in the American League West, 16.5 games behind California and Kansas City.  They would finish 77-85, tied for fourth with Oakland, 14 games behind Kansas City.

The Rangers were 58-94, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, 28 games behind California and Kansas City.  They would finish 62-99, in seventh place, 28.5 games behind Kansas City.

Random record:  The Twins are 29-27 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1979, Game One Hundred Fifty-four


Date:  Friday, September 21.

Batting stars:  Butch Wynegar was 2-for-4 with a home run, his seventh.  Ken Landreaux was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his fifteenth.

Pitching stars:  Jerry Koosman pitched eight innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks and striking out six.  Mike Marshall pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Moose Haas pitched a complete game, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks and striking out five.  Ben Oglivie was 4-for-4.  Robin Yount was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Gorman Thomas was 1-for-3 with a home run (his forty-third) and a walk.

The game:  The Twins missed chances early, stranding a man on third in the first and men on first and second in the second.  Thomas started the scoring in the bottom of the second with a home run, putting the Brewers up 1-0, but they similarly left men on first and second.

There was really not much for threats from there until the seventh, when Oglivie hit a one-out single, Yount walked, and Charlie Moore delivered a two-out RBI single.  Milwaukee left men on first and third, but they still led 2-0, and that remained the score through eight.

Then came the ninth.  Roy Smalley led off with a walk.  A popup followed, but then Landreaux hit a two-run homer to tie the score.  Wynegar followed with a home run and the Twins took their only lead of the game at 3-2.

The Brewers did not give up.  Oglivie led off the ninth with a single, which brought Marshall into the game.  With one out Yount singled, putting men on first and second.  Moore hit into a force out at second, moving the tying run to third, but Paul Molitor popped up and the game belonged to the Twins.

WP:  Koosman (19-13).  LP:  Haas (11-10).  S:  Marshall (31).

Notes:  Rick Sofield was in center, with Landreaux moving to left.  Sofield had started the season with the Twins, but was sent to AAA in mid-May and came back as a September call-up.  Landreaux had played center most of the season.  Bombo Rivera is listed as the Twins' left fielder, but in fact they used a few players there:  Rivera (61 games), Landreaux (49), Glenn Adams (45), and Dave Edwards (36).

Adams was the DH in this game.  He spent 54 games at DH, sharing the position with Jose Morales (77), Danny Goodwin (51), Mike Cubbage (22), Willie Norwood (17), and Craig Kusick (12).

The Twins had three batters over .300 this late in the season.  Rob Wilfong was at .317--he would finish at .313.  Landreaux was at .304--he would finish at .305.  Adams was at .300--he would finish at .301.

Smalley led the team in home runs with 24.  Landreaux had 15 and Ron Jackson 14.  No one else had double digits in homers.

Koosman would go on to win twenty games for the second and last time of his career.  He finished 20-13, 3.38, 1.33 WHIP at age thirty-six.  This was his first season with the Twins, having been traded from the Mets with Greg Field for Jesse Orosco.

The Twins had three decent starters in Koosman, Geoff Zahn, and Dave Goltz.  They struggled to fill out the rotation, however, with Paul Hartzell and Roger Erickson each posting an ERA over five in more than twenty starts.

Robin Yount was batting eighth for Milwaukee.  He was in his sixth major league season, but was still just twenty-three.  He batted .267 in 1979, but with an OPS of just .679.  The next season he would really become Robin Yount, batting .293 with 23 homers, leading the league with 49 doubles, posting an OPS of .840, and making his first all-star team.  Surprisingly, Yount only made the all-star team three times in his career and did not make it in one of his two MVP seasons, 1989.

They don't give pitch counts for games in the '70s, but these days Haas would probably not have started the ninth, and almost certainly would have been removed after the leadoff walk to Smalley.  The Brewers really didn't have a closer, and in fact had only twenty-three team saves, distributed over five pitchers.  They threw sixty-one complete games.  Presumably, George Bamberger saw no reason to take a pitcher out when he was doing well, regardless of what his pitch count was.

The Twins were still in the pennant race at this point, but after winning the next game they would drop six in a row to take them out of it.

Record:  The Twins were 80-74, in third place in the American League West, three games behind California.  They would finish 82-80, in fourth place, six games behind California.

The Brewers were 90-63, in second place in the American League East, ten games behind Baltimore.  They would finish 95-66, in second place, eight games behind Baltimore.


Random Rewind: 1969, Game Thirty-seven


Date:  Saturday, May 24.

Batting stars:  Leo Cardenas was 2-for-3.  Tony Oliva was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Jim Kaat pitched a complete game, giving up an unearned run on five hits and two walks and striking out four.

Opposition stars:  Bobby Murcer was 2-for-4.  Bill Burbach pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk and striking out four.

The game:  The Twins started the scoring in the second on singles by Harmon KillebrewGraig Nettles, and Cardenas.  They ran themselves out of a chance for a bigger inning when, with men on first and third and one out, Nettles was thrown out trying to steal home on the back end of a second-and-home double steal attempt.  It went to 2-0 in the third when Rod Carew walked, stole second, and scored on Oliva's single.

It stayed 2-0 for a while, as neither team was getting much else going offensively.  Tom Tresh led off the sixth with a double but did not advance.  The Yankees got on the board in the seventh when, with a man on first and two out, Carew made a two-base error on a pop fly to short right field, scoring Billy Cowan.  Neither team threatened after that, and the game ended 2-1.

WP:  Kaat (4-2).  LP:  Burbach (2-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Cesar Tovar was again at third base, with Nettles in left field.  In the eighth, Frank Quilici came in to play third, with Tovar moving to left.

Carew was 0-for-3 with a walk, dropping his average to .384.  Oliva went up to .306.  Kaat's ERA fell to 2.50.

The Twins went 1-for-4 in stolen bases.  In addition to NettlesOliva was caught stealing twice, in the third and the sixth.

The Twins were having trouble scoring runs in this period.  They had scored just thirteen runs in their last eight games.  Part of it was that they hit a stretch where they faced some good pitchers, but that was not the case in this game (more on that below).

It strikes me that one reason pitchers threw more innings and more complete games back then is that balls were simply put in play more frequently.  Yes, there were some pitchers with high strikeout totals, but a lot of successful pitchers did not strike out that many batters.  Kaat pitched a complete game here, but struck out just four and walked only two.  For the season, in 242.1 innings, he struck out just 139 and walked 75 (including 15 intentional walks).  I am making no judgment about what is better or worse, just observing that you're going to be able to face more batters if you don't throw as many pitches per at-bat.  And if you can get those batters to make outs, well, you're probably going to throw more innings and get more complete games.

I have absolutely no memory of Bill Burbach.  As it turns out, he's an ex-Twin that I had missed, although he did not play in the majors for Minnesota.  1969 was his rookie season.  He was in the rotation pretty much all year and did fairly well, going 6-8, 3.65.  He pitched 140.2 innings and gave up just 112 hits, but he walked 102 batters, leading to a WHIP of 1.52.  He was just twenty-one years old in this season, though, and one can imagine people saying, "If he can just learn to throw strikes, he'll be a great pitcher."  It didn't happen for him, though.  He made four starts for the Yankees in 1970, posting a 10.26 ERA, and spent the rest of the year in AAA Syracuse.  1971 was similar--two appearances in the majors early in the season, the rest of the year in AAA.  It wasn't AAA Syracuse, though--the Yankees traded him to Baltimore for Jim Hardin in late May.  The Orioles traded him to Detroit before the 1972 season, but somehow he ended up making thirty-three appearances for Tacoma in the Twins' organization that season.  He wasn't very good, posting an ERA of 4.50 and a WHIP of 1.75.  He improved some at throwing strikes as his career, although no one would ever have called him a control pitcher.  As his walk rate went down, however, his hits allowed rate went up.  One wonders if he might have thrown a magical zoomball, and if in the process of trying to control it, it became hittable.  At any rate, he was out of baseball after the 1972 season at age twenty-five.  His career major league numbers are 6-11, 4.48, 1.60 WHIP in 160.2 innings.

Record:  The Twins were 21-16, tied for first with Oakland in the American League West.  They would finish 97-65, in first place, nine games ahead of Oakland.

The Yankees were 20-22, in fourth place in the American League West, ten games behind Baltimore.  They would finish 80-81, in fifth place, 28.5 games behind Baltimore.

Random Rewind: 1971, Game Thirty


Date:  Sunday, May 9.

Batting stars:  Jim Holt was 3-for-4 with two triples, a walk, and three runs.  Tony Oliva was 3-for-4 with two doubles.  Leo Cardenas was 1-for-5 with a home run, his second.

Pitching star:  Ray Corbin struck out four in four shutout innings of relief, giving up no hits and one walk.

Opposition stars:  Tim Cullen was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs.  Del Unser was 1-for-5 with a home run, his second.

The game:  Unser led off the game with a home run, putting the Senators up 1-0.  In the second, walks to Joe Foy and Jim French and a single by Cullen loaded the bases with none out.  A 1-2-3 double play kept Washington off the board momentarily, but Denny McLain hit a two-run triple to give the Senators a 3-0 lead.

The Twins came back in the fourth.  Cardenas led off the inning with a home run.  Oliva doubled, followed by a run-scoring single-plus-error by Harmon Killebrew.  Holt then tripled to tie the score and Brant Alyea hit a sacrifice fly to put the Twins up 4-3.

The Senators went back in front in the sixth.  French singled, Cullen tripled, and Toby Harrah hit a sacrifice fly to give them a 5-4 advantage.  The lead only lasted until the Twins came up to bat, because Holt hit a one-out triple and Alyea followed with his second sacrifice fly to tie it 5-5.

It stayed tied until the tenth.  The first two Twins batters went out.  Holt and Alyea then singled, putting men on first and third.  Rich Reese was intentionally walked to load the bases and bring up George Mitterwald.  Mitterwald came through with an RBI single and the Twins won 6-5.

WP:  Corbin (3-1).  LP:  McLain (3-5).  S:  None.

Notes:  Killebrew was at third base in this game, with Reese at first.  Killer played both first and third in 1971, with Steve Braun usually playing third when Harmon was at first.

Alyea was in left in place of Cesar Tovar, who missed a few days, presumably with a minor injury or illness.  Tom Tischinski caught in place of Mitterwald.

Paul Ray Powell pinch-ran for Oliva in the eighth.  He stayed in the game in center field, with Holt moving to right.  Charlie Manuel pinch-hit for Tischinski in the ninth, with Mitterwald entering the game to catch in the tenth.

Despite using three pitchers, the Twins did not pinch-hit for any of them.  Stan Williams batted twice (0-for-2) and Corbin batted twice (0-for-2).

There were four triples in this game.  While I'm sure that's nowhere near a record, it's still a lot of triples, especially when you think of the number of games that can go by where you don't even see one.  I imagine the record was set back in the dead ball era, and I'm sure it's a lot more than four, but four is still remarkable.

Holt hit two of the triples.  He had three for the season and ten in his career.  Cullen had four triples for the season and nine in his career.  This was one of two triples McLain had in his career.

Astonishingly, McLain pitched a complete game.  I know men were men back then, but it's not exactly like he was mowing them down.  He allowed six runs on thirteen hits and two walks.  His game score was forty-four.  They don't give pitch counts for games that old, but it had to be a lot.  It's not like their bullpen was terrible--they had Joe Grzenda (5-2, 1.92), Paul Lindblad (6-4, 2.58), Denny Riddleberger (3-1, 3.23), and Horacio Pina (1-1, 3.59).  After his two Cy Young seasons, 1968-1969, McLain fell off sharply and never had a good year again.  This was his last full season in the majors, and he went 10-22, 4.28, 1.41 WHIP.

1971 is somewhat analogous to 2011.  It's not a perfect analogy by any means, but in both cases you had a team that had been good for a while suddenly fall off a cliff.  The Twins had won the division in 1969 and 1970, and as is seen below, were nowhere close in 1971.

Record:  The Twins were 15-15, in fourth place in the American League West, five games behind Oakland.  They would finish 74-86, in fifth place, 26.5 games behind Oakland.

The Senators were 13-16, in fifth place in the American League East, six games behind Boston.  They would finish 63-96, in fifth place, 38.5 games behind Baltimore.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Fifty-four


Date:  Saturday, September 28.

Batting stars:  Gene Larkin was 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, his second.  Kirby Puckett was 2-for-5.  Chili Davis was 1-for-2 with two walks.

Pitching star:  Jack Morris pitched a complete game shutout, giving up six hits and three walks and striking out four.  He threw 121 pitches.

Opposition star:  Roberto Alomar was 2-for-4 with a double.

The game:  There was no score through four.  The Twins had two on with none out in the second, but a double play took them out of the inning.  The Blue Jays had two on with two out in the third and again in the fourth, but could not score.

The Twins broke through in the fifth.  Davis led off with a walk, Shane Mack had a one-out single, and Greg Gagne delivered a two-run double.  The Twins later put men on second and third with two out and Chuck Knoblauch had a two-run single, putting the Twins up 4-0.

That was pretty much it, really.  Toronto drew a couple of walks in the sixth but could do nothing with them.  The Twins added a run in the ninth when Mack was hit by a pitch, was bunted to second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on Newman's bunt single.

WP:  Morris (18-12).  LP:  Tom Candiotti (13-13).  S:  None.

NotesLarkin was in right field, with Mack in left and Dan Gladden on the bench.  Larkin also batted leadoff.  He's obviously not someone you'd think of as a leadoff batter, but in 17 plate appearances there in 1991, he batted .385/.471/.538, and that will certainly work out of the leadoff spot.  For his career, he batted .339/.447/.516 in 76 plate appearances while batting first.  A small sample size, to be sure, but I think I might have put him there more often to see if he could keep it going.

Newman played third base in place of Mike Pagliarulo and Scott Leius.  Jarvis Brown pinch-ran for Larkin in the seventh and stayed in the game in right field.  Pedro Munoz pinch-hit for Kent Hrbek in the ninth.  Paul Sorrento came in to play first base in the ninth.

Puckett raised his average to .322.  Brian Harper was 1-for-4 and was batting .314.  Mack was 1-for-3 and was batting .306.  Morris lowered his ERA to 3.50.

Leading 4-0 in the ninth, the Twins laid down two bunts.  Apparently back in 1991 the unwritten rules allowed this.  I don't know if they allow it today.  I tried to check, but since the unwritten rules are, well, unwritten, I couldn't find anything.

Toronto used seven pitchers in the game, three of them in the ninth inning.

The White Sox beat Seattle 5-2 to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Record:  The Twins were 92-62, in first place in the American League West, eight games ahead of Chicago.  They had clinched a tie for the division, and their magic number was now one.

Boston lost, so Toronto continued to lead the East by 3.5 games.

1991 Rewind: Game One Hundred Thirty-three


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


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


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


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


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.