Tag Archives: when men were men

Random Rewind: 1977, Game Ninety-eight

MINNESOTA 2, OAKLAND 1 IN MINNESOTA (11 INNINGS)

Date:  Monday, July 25.

Batting stars:  Rod Carew was 2-for-5.  Mike Cubbage was 1-for-4 with a home run (his third) and a walk.

Pitching star:  Dave Goltz pitched a complete game, striking out fourteen.  He gave up one run on eight hits and a walk for a game score of 90.  I don't know what his pitch count was.

Opposition stars:  Rick Langford also pitched a complete game, although he only had to go ten innings.  He gave up two runs on seven hits and five walks and struck out eight.  Jeff Newman was 2-for-4.  Tony Armas was 2-for-4.  Sheldon Mallory was 2-for-5 with a double.

The game:  The Twins loaded the bases with one out in the first, but a pair of strikeouts ended the inning.  Cubbage led off the third with a home run, getting the Twins on the board with a 1-0 lead.  It stayed 1-0 until the fifth, when Newman singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Mallory's double.

It stayed 1-1 for quite a while.  The Twins put two on with one out in the sixth and got a man to second with one out in the seventh.  The Athletics put a man on second with two out in the eighth and with one out in the tenth.

Carew led off the eleventh with a single.  Lyman Bostock followed with a single, moving Carew to third.  Glenn Adams was walked, loading the bases.  Larry Hisle then singled to bring home the deciding run.

WP:  Goltz (12-6).  LP:  Langford (7-11).  S:  None.

Notes:  Hisle was in center field, with Bostock in left.  Hisle played 71 games in center and 63 in left.  Bostock played 90 games in center and 60 in left.  I'm sure Gene Mauch had some reason for deciding who would play where--the pitcher, the ballpark, how much the other team run, who knows?  But knowing Mauch, it was not just random.

Rich Chiles batted for Bobby Randall in the tenth.  Jerry Terrell went in to play second.

Carew was batting .386.  He would finish at .388.  Glenn Adams was batting .357.  He would finish at .338.  Bostock was batting .338.  He would finish at .336.  Hisle was batting .302.  He would finish at .302.  The Twins led the league in batting  at .282.

Hisle led the team with 28 home runs.  Carew and Bostock each hit 14.  Craig Kusick hit 12 homers, Dan Ford 11, and Butch Wynegar 10.  The Twins hit 123 home runs, eleventh in the league.  Boston led with 213.

Goltz was 20-11, 3.36.  It was the best year of his career.  He was the only starter who the Twins could rely on.  The others were Paul Thormodsgard (11-15, 4.62), Geoff Zahn, (12-14, 4.68), and Pete Redfern (6-9, 5.18).  The bullpen was nothing to shout about, either.  Closer Tom Johnson did well--16-7, 3.13.  The next lowest ERA was Ron Schueler at 4.41.  The Twins were twelfth in ERA at 4.36.  Kansas City led at 3.52.  They were eleventh in WHIP at 1.42.  Texas led there at 1.28.

This was one of 19 complete games for Goltz.  He pitched 303 innings.  He led the league in wins and starts and was sixth in Cy Young voting.

Record:  The Twins were 55-43, in third place in the American League West, five games behind Chicago.  They would finish 84-77, in fourth place, 17.5 games behind Kansas City.

The Athletics were 40-56, in seventh (last) place in the American League West, 19 games behind Chicago.  They would finish 63-98, in seventh place, 38.5 games behind Kansas City.

Random record:  The Twins are 56-52 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1967, Game Sixty-six

MINNESOTA 1, CHICAGO 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, June 23.

Batting stars:  Bob Allison was 2-for-3.  Jerry Zimmerman was 2-for-3.  Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-3 with a home run, his twenty-second.

Pitching star:  Dean Chance pitched a complete game shutout, giving up three hits and one walk and striking out four.

Opposition star:  Joel Horlen pitched seven innings, giving up one run on six hits no walks and striking out two.  He was also 1-for-2 at the plate.

The game:  It was a pitchers' duel.  No one got past first base until the third, when Horlen singled with two out and went to second when Tommie Agee reached on an error.  Don Buford struck out to end the inning.  No one got past first after that until the sixth, when Agee hit a one-out double.  He was stranded on second.

With one out in the seventh Killebrew hit a home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  And that was pretty much it.  Chance retired the last eight men he faced and the Twins won 1-0.

WP:  Chance (10-5).  LP:  Horlen (8-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Cesar Tovar was at third base in place of Rich Rollins.  Rollins played 97 games at third compared to Tovar's 72, so this was not an unusual arrangement.  Tovar also played 64 games in center and 35 at second base, as well as a handful of games at short and each of the corner outfield positions.  He's mostly forgotten now, other than by old Twins fans, but you can make the argument that Tovar is among the greatest multi-position players ever.

Sandy Valdespino came in for defense in the ninth, replacing Allison in left field.

Carew was batting .319.  He would finish at .292, which still led the team.  On the other end, Zimmerman was batting .157.  He would finish at .167 with an OPS of .436.  He was the regular catcher this year due to injuries to Earl Battey.  He was reputed to be a superior defensive catcher, and I certainly hope he was, because he contributed nothing on offense.  The Twins batted .240, which was tied for third in the league.  Boston led at .255, well above second-place Detroit, which batted .243.

Killebrew naturally led the team with 44 home runs.  Allison hit 24 and Tony Oliva 17.  The Twins hit 131 home runs, tied for fourth in the league.  Boston led there, too, with 158.

We went through the 1967 pitching staff a couple of weeks ago, so we won't repeat that.  The Twins had 58 complete games in 1967.  Chance led with 18.  Jim Kaat had 13, and Jim Merritt and Dave Boswell each had 11.  Jim Perry, who made 11 starts and relieved 26 times, had three complete games.  Mudcat Grant, who battled injuries all season, still had two complete games.  Al Worthington was the relief ace, going 8-9, 2.84 with 16 saves.  Ron Kline went 7-1, 3.77 with 5 saves and Jim Roland posted a 3.03 ERA with 2 saves.  The Twins were second in ERA at 3.14, although that was well behind league-leading Chicago at 2.45.  The Twins were third in WHIP at 1.19.  Chicago led there, too, at 1.12.

In the sixth, with the game still scoreless, Zimmerman led off with a single and then was caught stealing second.  Zimmerman had one career stolen base, in his rookie year of 1961.  He had two stolen base attempts that season.  He had only one more stolen base attempt in his career, this one.  My guess is that the batter, Chance, was supposed to bunt and missed.  I have no real evidence for that, but I can't think of any other reason you'd have Zimmerman try to steal.  You'd have the element of surprise on your side, I guess, but that's about it.

I wonder if, in 1968, manager Cal Ermer made a statement to the effect that who they really missed was Jerry Zimmerman.

This was Horlen's best year.  He went 19-7 and led the league in ERA at 2.06.  He also led in shutouts with 6 and WHIP at 0.95.  It was the second time he'd led the league in WHIP (1964, 0.94).  He made the all-star team for the only time in his career.  He was second to Jim Lonborg in Cy Young voting.  You can make the argument that he should have won the award, but Lonborg won 22 games and played for the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox.  He finished fourth in MVP voting, ahead of Lonborg but behind Carl Yastrzemski, Killebrew, and Bill Freehan.

Record:  The Twins were 33-32, in fourth place in the American League, six games behind Chicago.  They would finish 91-71, tied for second with Detroit, one game behind Boston.

The White Sox were 38-25, in first place in the American League, three games ahead of Detroit.  They would finish 89-73, in fourth place, three games behind Boston.

People who read carefully may have noticed that this is the Twins 66th game, but their record was 33-32, which only adds up to 65.  Why, you ask?  Two days earlier they had played a tie game with Detroit, 5-5.  They would play another tie game on July 25 with New York, 1-1, so they actually played 164 games in 1967.  Tovar played in all 164 games despite not having a regular position.  The record is 165, by Maury Wills in 1962.  That total includes a best-of-three playoff.

Random record:  The Twins are 50-48 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1961, Game One Hundred Forty-three

MINNESOTA 7, KANSAS CITY 0 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Sunday, September 10.

Batting stars:  Earl Battey was 2-for-4 with a home run (his seventeenth) and two runs.  Joe Altobelli was 2-for-5.  Harmon Killebrew was 1-for-2 with a three-run homer (his forty-third), three walks, and two runs.

Pitching star:  Pedro Ramos pitched a complete game shutout, giving up five hits and four walks and striking out five.

Opposition stars:  Lew Krausse pitched two perfect innings.  Ed Rakow pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out one.

The game:  Each team put two men on in the first, but neither scored.  In the third Lenny Green singled with one out, Billy Martin walked, and Killebrew hit a three-run homer.  Battey homered later in the inning to make the score 4-0 Twins.

The Athletics drew a pair of one-out walks in the fourth, but a line drive double play took them out of the inning.  It was still 4-0 until the eighth.  Altobelli led off the inning with a single.  Battey reached on an error, and Bob Allison bunted the runners to second and third.  A wild pitch scored a run, Bill Tuttle walked, and Zoilo Versalles got a bunt single to make the score 6-0.

The Twins added one more in the ninth when Killebrew walked, Battey singled, and Allison had an RBI single.  Kansas City put two men on in the ninth but could not break the shutout.

WP:  Ramos (11-17).  LP:  Bill Kunkel (3-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Altobelli was in left field in place of Jim Lemon.  He had come up from the minors in early August.  This was his last season in the majors, but he would continue to play in the minors for several more years.  In 1966-1967 and in 1970 he was a player-manager in the minors, although he did not play very often.

Battey was batting .303.  He would finish at .302, the only regular player on the team to bat .300.  The Twins batted .250, which was seventh on the team.  Cleveland and Detroit led the league at .266.

Killebrew led the team in home runs with 46.  Allison was second with 29, followed by Battey with 17 and Lemon with 14.  The Twins hit 167 home runs, fourth in the league.  New York led at 240.

We went through the Twins' rotation in another 1961 game recently, so we won't repeat the discussion.  Ramos had three shutouts and nine complete games on the season.  Camilo Pascual led the team in both categories, throwing eight shutouts and fifteen complete games.  Jack Kralick had two shutouts and eleven complete games.  Jim Kaat had one shutout and eight complete games.  Don Lee, who only made ten starts, had four complete games and Al Schroll, who made eight starts, had two complete games.

The Bill Kunkel who started and lost for Kansas City is the same Bill Kunkel who was a major league umpire from 1968-1984.  He is the last person to have been both a major league player and a major league umpire.  He was a Rule 5 pick for the Yankees in 1963 and had a good year for them, pitching in 22 games and going 3-2, 2.72, 1.19 WHIP.  It looks like he mostly pitched mopup relief, but still, that's pretty good.  For some reason, though, he never got another chance in the majors.  Instead, he was in AAA for Milwaukee in 1964 and in AAA for Baltimore and Detroit in 1965.  He obviously had a much longer career as an umpire.  He retired in August of 1984 when his son, Jeff, reached the major leagues.  Sadly, he did not get much time to enjoy his retirement.  The cancer he had been fighting for years came back even stronger, and he passed away on May 4, 1985.

The Athletics used Joe Nuxhall as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.  Yes, that's the Joe Nuxhall who pitched for many years for Cincinnati and other teams.  As you probably know, he's the youngest player ever to appear in a major league game, pitching an inning in 1944 at age fifteen.  He would not reappear in the majors for eight years, but he went on to have a fine career.  He was, as they say, a good hitter for a pitcher, batting .198/.240/.292 in 861 plate appearances.  He was a good hitter, period, in 1961.  Small sample size, obviously, but he batted .292/.352/.446 with 2 home runs in 76 plate appearances.  Still, it's hard to understand using him as a pinch-hitter.  Kansas City had only used two substitutes, so they surely had position players remaining, especially in a September game.  Apparently, though, this was not unusual--it appears that he was used as a pinch-hitter 26 times in 1961, batting .250/.423/.300 in those appearances.

Record:  The Twins were 61-81, in eighth place in the American League, 37 games behind New York.  They would finish 70-90, in seventh place, 38 games behind New York.

The Athletics were 53-90, in ninth place in the American League, 45.5 games behind New York.  They would finish 61-100, tied for ninth with Washington, 47.5 games behind New York.

Random Record:  The Twins are 47-46 in Random Rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1961, Game Twenty-five

MINNESOTA 5, LOS ANGELES 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, May 12.

Batting stars:  Pedro Ramos was 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.  Jim Lemon was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Pedro Ramos struck out eight in eight innings, giving up four runs on six hits and five walks.  Ray Moore pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk.

Opposition stars:  Earl Averill was 2-for-4 with a home run (his sixth) and a double.  Eli Grba was 1-for-2 with a home run.  Ken Hunt was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his fifth.  Johnny James struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a walk.

The game:  Neither team got a hit for the first three innings.  In the fourth, Leon Wagner led off with a walk and Hunt hit a one-out two-run homer to give the Angels a 2-0 lead.  The Twins tied it in the bottom of the fourth.  Harmon Killebrew drew a one-out walk, Earl Battey singled, and Lemon hit a two-run double, making the score 2-2.

Los Angeles pitcher Grba homered in the top of the fifth, but Twins pitcher Ramos answered with a homer of his own in the bottom of the fifth, once again tying the game.  In the sixth, Lemon led off with a walk and went to second on a ground out.  Bob Allison was intentionally walked and Reno Bertoia was accidentally walked, loading the bases.  Ramos then came through again, knocking a two-run single to left to give the Twins a 5-3 lead.

The Angels put men on second and third with two out in the seventh, but did not score.  Averill led off the ninth with a home run, cutting the margin to 5-4, but Moore came in and allowed only a two-out walk to Faye Throneberry before closing the door.

WP:  Ramos (3-2).  LP:  Grba (3-3).  S:  Moore (4).

Notes:  Billy Gardner was the second baseman.  He would be replaced by Billy Martin after he was acquired on June 1 for Billy Consolo.  The Twins had quite the Billy club in 1961.  A little odd, too, that one future Twins manager was replaced by another.

Bertoia was at third base.  Bill Tuttle was the mostly regular at third, with Killebrew playing a fair number of games there as well.  At this stage of the season, however, Tuttle was an outfielder; he did not shift to third until late June, and had not played the position in the majors before.  He would not play it again, either, as he shifted back to the outfield in 1962.

The only position player substitution came in the ninth inning, when Dan Dobbek came in to replace Lemon in left field.

Battey was batting .345 in the young season.  He would finish at .302.  Killebrew was batting .342.  He would finish at .288.  Zoilo Versalles was batting .319.  He would finish at .280.  Lenny Green was batting .308.  He would finish at .285.  The Twins batted .250, good for seventh in the league.  Cleveland led the league at .266.

Killebrew, naturally, led the team in home runs with 46.  Allison hit 29, Battey had 17 and Lemon hit 14.  The Twins hit 167 home runs, fourth in the league.  New York led with 240.

It would be hard to say who the staff ace was in 1961.  Ramos led the team in starts at 34, and also pitched in relief 8 times.  He was 11-20, 3.95. 1.30 WHIP.  Camilo Pascual was 15-16, 3.46, 1.21.  Jack Kralick was 13-11, 3.62, 1.33, and Jim Kaat was 9-17, 3.90, 1.35.  The only other pitcher to make double digit starts was Don Lee, who was 3-6, 3.52, 1.11.  Closers weren't really a thing then--Moore led the team with 14 saves.  Each of the four main starters pitched over 200 innings and they had 49 complete games, so their weren't just a whole lot relief innings to be concerned about.

As a team, the Twins had an ERA of 4.28, seventh in the league.  Baltimore led at 3.22.  The Twins were fifth in WHIP at 1.39.  Baltimore led at 1.25.

I'm guessing that, back in the day, both starting pitchers hitting a home run wasn't that rare, but it was certainly uncommon.  I don't recall it happening in any of the random rewind games, nor do I recall it in the 1965 or 1969 rewinds, although I certainly could have forgotten.

Record:  The Twins were 13-12, in fourth place in the American League, 5.5 games behind Detroit.  They would finish 70-90, in seventh place, 38 games behind New York.

The Angels were 9-14, tied for eighth in the American League, 8.5 games behind Detroit.  They would finish 70-91, in eighth place, 38.5 games behind New York.

Detroit went 101-61 and finished eight games out of first place.  That had to be discouraging.

Random record:  The Twins are 41-40 in Random Rewind games.  If we do this for 162 games (which we won't, unless there's no 2020 season at all), we'd be at the half-way point of the random season.

Random Rewind: 1985, Game One Hundred Fifty-three

TEXAS 2, MINNESOTA 0 IN TEXAS

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

MINNESOTA 3, MILWAUKEE 2 IN MILWAUKEE

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

MINNESOTA 2, NEW YORK 1 IN NEW YORK

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

MINNESOTA 6, WASHINGTON 5 IN MINNESOTA (10 INNINGS)

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

MINNESOTA 5, TORONTO 0 IN TORONTO

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

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.