Tag Archives: Year of the Pitcher

Random Rewind: 1968, Game One Hundred Forty-three


Date:  Saturday, September 7.

Batting stars:  Ron Clark was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Graig Nettles was 2-for-4 with two home runs, his second and third.

Pitching stars:  Jim Perry pitched seven innings, giving up one run on seven hits and three walks and striking out four.  Al Worthington pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Pat Dobson pitched a complete game, giving up two runs on six hits and three walks and striking out four.  Mickey Stanley was 3-for-5.  Don Wert was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twelfth.

The game:  The Tigers had men on second and third with none out in the first, but a line drive double play took them out of the inning.  They had men on first and second with one out in the fourth, but the next two batters could not get the ball out of the infield and they were again turned aside.

Detroit got on the board in the fifth when Wert led off the inning with a home run.  Again, however, they missed a chance to get more, as they loaded the bases with two out and could not add to their lead.  It cost them, because in the next half-inning Nettles hit a two-out home run to tie it 1-1.

The Tigers got a man to second with two out in the seventh, and the Twins did the same in the eighth, but the score remained tied until the ninth, when Nettles led off the inning with a home run to give the Twins their first lead of the game at 2-1.  The Tigers got a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, but did not advance the man past first base.

WP:  Worthington (4-5).  LP:  Dobson (5-6).  S:  None.

Notes:  Bruce Look was behind the plate in place of Johnny Roseboro.  This was Look's only season in the majors.  He batted .246 with an OBP of .353, pretty good numbers for 1968.  Granted, it was 139 plate appearances, but still, you'd think he might have gotten another chance.  Instead, he went to AAA Denver in 1969, batted .223, and played just two more season, both in AAA, before his career came to an end.

Rich Reese was at first base in place of Harmon Killebrew.  This, or course, was the year Killebrew was injured in the all-star game.  He came back in September but was mostly used as a pinch-hitter, never playing a full game the rest of the season.

Frank Quilici was at second base in place of Rod Carew, who missed a few games.  Clark was at shortstop.  Jackie Hernandez played the most games at short in 1968 with 79, but Clark was second with 44.  Rich Rollins was at third base.  Cesar Tovar played the most games at third in 1968 with 77, but Rollins was second at with 56.  Tovar was in center field in place of Ted Uhlaender, who missed a couple of weeks.  Nettles was in right field in place of Tony Oliva, whose season ended on August 31.

To sum up, of the eight regular listed by b-r.com, the only one to start the game at his regular position was left fielder Bob Allison.

Killebrew pinch-hit for Perry in the seventh.  Rick Renick came into the game at shortstop in the ninth inning, with Clark moving to third and Rollins coming out of the game.  Frank Kostro came into the game in left field and Jim Holt came into the game in right field, replacing Nettles and Allison.

Oliva led the team in batting at .289.  Uhlaender batted .283 and Carew it .273.  Of players used in this game, Tovar had the highest batting average at .272.

Allison led the team in home runs with 22.  Oliva had 18 and Killebrew had 17.

Perry was essentially the fifth starter in a four-man rotation, getting starts because of doubleheaders or injuries.  He had a tremendous season, though, going 8-6, 2.27, 1.00 WHIP.  The Twins' starters numbers sound impressive:  Dean Chance (16-16, 2.53, 0.98), Jim Kaat (14-12, 2.94, 1.12), Jim Merritt (12-16, 3.35, 1.09), and Dave Boswell (10-13, 3.32, 1.24.  On the other hand, the league ERA was 2.98, and the league WHIP was 1.19, so those numbers are perhaps not as impressive as they sound.  There's a reason they call it The Year of the Pitcher.

Record:  The Twins were 68-75, in seventh place in the American League, 22 games behind Detroit.  They would finish 79-83, in seventh place, 24 games behind Detroit.

The Tigers were 90-53, in first place in the American League, 8 games ahead of Baltimore.  They would finish 103-59, in first place, 12 games ahead of Baltimore.

Rewind record:  The Twins are 29-26 in rewind games.

Random Rewind: 1968, Game Thirty-five


Date:  Monday, May 20.

Batting stars:  Rich Reese was 2-for-3 with a three-run homer, his second.  Tony Oliva was 2-for-4 with a double.

Pitching star:  Jim Merritt pitched 9.2 innings, giving up four runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks and striking out six.

Opposition stars:  Denny McLain pitched a ten-inning complete game, giving up three runs on seven hits and no walks and striking out seven.  Willie Horton was 1-for-5 with a home run, his tenth.

The game;  With one out in the second Oliva and Rich Rollins hit consecutive singles and Reese followed with a three-run homer.  Unfortunately, that was all the Twins offense did.

For a while it looked like it would be enough.  The Tigers closed the gap in the fourth.  Mickey Stanley reached on an error and Jim Northrup singled, putting men on first and third with one out.  A force out scored a run, another error put men on first and second with two out, and Don Wert had an RBI single to cut the margin to 3-2.

It stayed 3-2 until the ninth, when Horton may not have heard a who, but he hit a homer to tie the score and send the game to an extra inning.  The first two Detroiters were retired in the tenth, but Al Kaline reached on a two-base error and scored on another error, putting the Tigers in front for the first time.  The Twins went down in order in the tenth and the game was gone.

WP:  McLain (6-1).  LP:  Merritt (3-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Cesar Tovar was at shortstop.  Jackie Hernandez had the most games at shortstop with 79.  Ron Clark had 44, Rick Renick 40, and Tovar 35.  Tovar was the only one of them who could hit in 1968, and I suspect that, as good as he was at playing all over the field, he was somewhat stretched at shortstop.

Reese was in left field in place of Bob Allison.  I didn't remember Reese playing the outfield, but he played 74 games there over the course of his career.  He was,  of course, primarily a first baseman.

Hernandez came in for defense in the seventh.  He went to short, with Tovar moving to third and Rollins leaving the game.  Clark cae in for defense in the ninth.  He went to third, with Tovar moving to left and Reese leaving the game.  Allison was used as a pinch-hitter for the pitcher in the tenth.

Carew was leading the team in batting at .295.  He would finish at .273.  Oliva ended up leading the team in batting at .289.  I didn't check, but memory tells me that was second in the league to Carl Yastrzemski, who led at .301.

Merritt pitched a tremendous game and really deserved to win.  The Twins made four errors behind him, one each by TovarHernandezRollins, and Clark.  Two of those players, of course, were brought in for defense.  Well, nobody's perfect.

As you probably know, this was the year McLain won 31 games.  He also led the league in starts (41), complete games (28), innings (336) and batters faced (1288).  He would have another tremendous year in 1969, but would never have another one again.  Throwing 51 complete games and 661 innings over two years will do that to you.  He pitched through 1973, but he was basically done at age 25.

It was, of course the Year of the Pitcher, but the Twins' rotation numbers are still pretty impressive.  Dean Chance, 16-16, 2.53, 0.98 WHIP.  Jim Kaat, 14-12, 2.94, 1.12.  Merritt, 12-16, 3.25, 1.09.  Dave Boswell, 10-13, 3.32, 1.24.  When a fifth starter was needed, there was Jim Perry, 8-6, 2.27, 1.00.  Again, it was the Year of the Pitcher, but those are still good numbers.

Record:  The Twins were 18-17, tied for fourth in the American League, 5 games behind Detroit.  They would finish 79-83, in seventh place, 24 games behind Detroit.

The Tigers were 23-12, in first place in the American League, 2.5 games ahead of Cleveland.  They would finish  103-59, in first place, 12 games ahead of Baltimore.