MINNESOTA 4, BALTIMORE 3 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Sunday, July 1.
Batting stars: Kirby Puckett was 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Al Newman was 2-for-3 with a stolen base (his sixth) and two walks. Kent Hrbek was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his eleventh) and a walk. Greg Gagne was 2-for-4.
Pitching stars: Roy Smith pitched six innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and one walk and striking out five. Rick Aguilera struck out five in two shutout innings, giving up two walks.
Opposition stars: Cal Ripken was 3-for-5 with a home run (his ninth) and two RBIs. Steve Finley was 2-for-4 with a home run and a walk. Joe Orsulak was 2-for-5. Pete Harnisch pitched six innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and a walk and striking out five.
The game: The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the third but did not score. They put two on with two out in the fourth but did not score. Instead, the Orioles started the scoring in the fifth when Finley hit a one-out home run.
The Twins answered back in the fifth. This time they put two on with none out, as Gene Larkin and Puckett started the inning with singles. Hrbek then hit a three-run homer to put the Twins up 3-1. Ripken homered with one out in the sixth to cut the lead to 3-2.
It stayed 3-2 until the eighth. Then Orsulak led off with a double and Ripken had an RBI single, and the game was tied 3-3. The Twins put men on first and third with two out in the bottom of the eighth, but to no avail.
The Orioles could only manage a one-out walk to Mickey Tettleton in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, Puckett led off with a walk and Hrbek singled, putting men on first and second. A force out put men on first and third, and Brian Harper delivered an RBI single, giving the Twins the victory.
WP: Aguilera (2-1). LP: Gregg Olson (4-3). S: None.
Notes: John Moses was in left in place of Dan Gladden. Larkin was in right field. Paul Sorrento was the DH.
The Twins really didn't have a regular right fielder. Moses played the most games there with 52, but Shane Mack was right behind at 51. Larkin played 47 games in right, Randy Bush 31, Carmelo Castillo 20, and Pedro Munoz 19.
The Twins also didn't really have a regular DH. Larkin had the most games there with 43, with Castillo second at 35. Bush was the DH for 27 games, Sorrento for 23, Jim Dwyer 22, Hrbek 20, Harper 11, and Moses 10.
Puckett was batting .308. He would finish at 298. Harper was batting .301. He would finish at .294. Among those who had at least 300 at-bats, Mack was the only .300 hitter, batting .326. The Twins would bat .265 on the season, good for fourth place in the league. Boston led at .272.
Hrbek led the team in home runs with 22. Gary Gaetti hit 16 and Puckett 12. The Twins hit just 100 home runs, tied for last with Kansas City. Detroit led the league with 172.
Smith had a good enough game here, but he did not have a good season, going 5-10, 4.81, 1.55 WHIP. My recollection of him is that he was a fairly big guy (6'3", 200 lbs.), but he did not throw hard at all. He'd had a good year in 1989 (10-6, 3.92), but that was the only good year he ever had in the majors.
The Twins' rotation was not very good in 1990. Allan Anderson led the team in starts with 31, but he went 7-18, 4.53. Kevin Tapani made 28 starts, going 12-8, 4.07, 1.21 WHIP. David West made 27 starts and went 7-9, 5.10, 1.50 WHIP. Mark Guthrie battled injuries but did okay when healthy, going 7-9, 3.79, 1.33. Scott Erickson made the jump from AA to the majors in late June and did okay, going 8-4, 2.87, 1.41 WHIP.
The Twins had three solid relievers in Rick Aguilera (5-3, 2.76), Terry Leach (2-5, 3.20) and Juan Berenguer (8-5, 3.41). John Candelaria also did well out of the bullpen (7-3, 3.39), but he was traded to Toronto at the July deadline.
The Twins were eleventh in team ERA at 4.12; Oakland led with 3.18. The Twins were eighth in WHIP at 1.39; Oakland led there, too, at 1.22.
The Twins really struggled to find a second baseman. Newman got the most playing time there, 89 games, but he batted just .242 with a .582 OPS, and Tom Kelly preferred to use him as a utility man anyway. They acquired Fred Manrique early in the season, but he batted just .237 and was released in August, having played 67 games at second. Nelson Liriano was acquired in the Candelaria trade and played 50 games at second, batting .254. The next year, Chuck Knoblauch would take over at second.
This was the "worst" part of the worst-to-first connection for the Twins. Kelly never liked that phrase. He said something to the effect of "we finished last, but we weren't the worst". He had a point: the Yankees actually had the worst record in the league at 67-95, and the Twins were only a game and a half behind Kansas City. Plus, the Twins' record that year was among the best that a last-place team has ever had, as they lost fewer than 90 games.
This game snapped a four-game losing streak for the Twins. They would go on to win four of the next five.
Record: The Twins were 36-40, in fifth place in the American League West, 12 games behind Oakland. They would finish 74-88, in seventh (last) place, 29 games behind Oakland.
The Orioles were 34-42, in fifth place in the American League East, 10.5 games behind Boston. They would finish 76-85, in fifth place, 11.5 games behind Boston.
Random record: The Twins are 40-39 in Random Rewind games.