Game 129: Detroit Tigers (74-50) @ Minnesota Twins (67-61)

February 28, 2007

Wednesday August 26, 1987

Tigers 10, Twins 8

The Twins entered the ninth inning with a one run lead and Jeff Reardon on the mound, a combination that has netted shaky results most of the year. Reardon walked two of the first three batters he faced, and gave up a single to fill up the bases. Rookie catcher Matt Nokes singled to knock in two runs and erase the lead. The next batter, Chet Lemon, homered to run the total of ninth inning runs to five in an eventual 10-8 victory for the Tigers.

The Twins are happy that the season series with Detroit is over. The Tigers have won 8 of 12, including five of the last six games in the span of the last week.

The Twins’ lead in the West is down to a half a game over Oakland.

Player of the Game
Chet Lemon 3-5, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI

AL West Standings through 8/26 (Retrosheet)

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Minnesota Twins                129   67   62    0  .519     -   640  664
Oakland Athletics              126   65   61    0  .516   0.5   658  600
California Angels              127   63   64    0  .496   3.0   593  610
Kansas City Royals             126   62   64    0  .492   3.5   540  541
Texas Rangers                  126   60   66    0  .476   5.5   677  685
Seattle Mariners               126   59   67    0  .468   6.5   583  654
Chicago White Sox              126   53   73    0  .421  12.5   572  604

Friday at Milwaukee: Les Straker 6-8 4.73 vs Chris Bosio 7-5 5.77
Saturday-Sunday @ MIL
Tuesday-Thursday vs BOS
9/4-9/6 vs MIL
9/7-9/9 vs CHW

The Franchise 1912

February 28, 2007

1912 Washington Nationals
Manager: Clark Griffith 12th Season (1st with Washington 91-61-2)
91 W 61 L 2 T 699 RS 581 RA 2nd AL 14.0 GB (Boston 105-47-2)
4.54 RPG (AL = 4.44) 2.69 ERA (AL = 3.34)
.678 DER (3rd AL)

Franchise (1901-1912) 701-1069-38

In the previous decade, a Chicago sportswriter famously coined the phrase “Washington: first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.” The fact is, through 1911, the statement rang true. The 1912 version of the Nationals did more to change that than any previous team.

It started with first-year manager Clark Griffith. Griffith came to Washington with 12 years of managerial experience. He spent the bulk of his years managing the New York Highlanders, with stints in Chicago (AL) and Cincinnati. Wherever he went, seemingly, Griffith had some success.

Washington’s uniforms remained unchanged until 1917.

Griffith immediately began to make changes to his new team in Washington, ushering in a youth movement, particularly when it came to the lineup. Only two of the everyday players from 1911 kept jobs in 1912: Clyde Milan and George McBride. Everybody else in the lineup was replaced by first and second-year players.

The average age for a position player in Washington dropped a full two years since 1911, and the 1912 Nats were the youngest in the league.

Under the “Little Fox’s” guidance success came quickly for the young players. Though they had only an 18-21 record in the first two months of the season, the team would win 17 games in a row between May 30 and June 18, a franchise record to that point. They jumped from sixth place in the AL on May 30 to second on June 18, only 1.5 games out of first place.

The 1912 Nats would never again get that close to first place, mainly due to the Boston Red Sox machine running away with the pennant. Griff’s team was, however, able to maintain a hold on second for the majority of the rest of the season.

Bold = Player new to Washington in 1912

C John Henry .194/.309/.225 0 HR 0.8 BFW 7 WS 29 FRAR 2.7 WARP3
22 year old John “Bull” Henry shared catching duties with Eddie Ainsmith and Rip Williams. Henry’s value came solely from his defense.

1B Chick Gandil .305/.350/.431 2 HR 0.9 BFW 18 WS 11 FRAR 3.7 WARP3
On May 12, Griffith sent three players to Montreal of the International League in exchange for the 25 year old first baseman. Gandil ran away from home at the age of 17, and supplemented his income from baseball by participating in heavyweight prize fights. Shortly after Gandil became a regular player, the Nats rattled off the 17-game winning streak, a fact that was not lost on Clark Griffith. At some point during his four years with Washington, Gandil was introduced to Sport Sullivan, one of the key bookies involved in the 1919 World Series scandal.

Gandil will become famous elsewhere

2B Ray Morgan .238/.318/.337 1 HR -1.3 BFW 7 WS 2 FRAR 0.4 WARP3
As a rookie in 1911, Morgan played in 25 games for the Nats, all at third base. He moved over to second in 1912. He played only 76 games, and shared second base duties with Frank LaPorte, John Knight, and veteran Germany Schaefer.

SS George McBride .226/.288/.284 1 HR 1.2 BFW 13 WS 52 FRAR 4.5 WARP3
More of the same from McBride: great defense combined with little to no production at the plate. For the second straight year, he recieved an MVP vote.

3B Eddie Foster .285/.345/.379 2 HR 1.9 BFW 26 WS 29 FRAR 5.4 WARP3
“Kid” Foster stood only five and a half feet tall. He played 30 games with the Yankees in 1910 before landing in Washington for the 1912 season. Foster started off hot, having one of the best offensive seasons of his career in his first full season. He would hold down third base for the Nationals for most of the decade ahead.

LF Howie Shanks .231/.305/.308 1 HR -2.1 BFW 9 WS 8 FRAR 0.7 WARP3
The 21 year old Shanks made his major league debut in 1912. He played the vast majority of his time in left field, which is of note because he became somewhat of a utility player later in his career, bouncing around from position to position for Washington.

CF Clyde Milan .306/.377/.379 1 HR 1.0 BFW 33 WS 18 FRAR 5.7 WARP3
Though his number slipped a bit from the previous year, Milan finished fourth in AL MVP voting (one spot behind teammate and friend Walter Johnson), no doubt a function of his team’s success. Milan ran away with the AL stolen base crown, swiping 88 bases. Though Eddie Collins stole six bases on two occasions, he still finished a distant second with 63. On June 14th, Milan stole five bases, including home.

RF Danny Moeller .276/.346/.399 6 HR 0.3 BFW 22 WS 23 FRAR 4.9 WARP3
Moeller resurfaced after a stint with the Pirates ’07 and ’08 to provide the kind of home run power the Nats haven’t had in six years. His six homers in 1912 was the most since Charlie Hickman hit 9 in 1906. Moeller also had 26 doubles and 10 triples in his first year as a regular.

P Walter Johnson 33-12 1.39 ERA 0.91 WHIP 10.6 PW 47 WS 16.3 WARP3
The list of accomplishments for Johnson in 1912 is a long one. He led the AL in ERA, WHIP, K (303), K/9 (7.39), and ERA+ (240). After allowing 8 home runs in 1911, he cut the number back down to only two in 1912. Johnson’s bat emerged in 1912 as well, with a .264/.298/.403 line and two home runs (the same number he allowed). The scariest part is that this wasn’t even his best season on the mound.

P Bob Groom 24-13 2.62 ERA 1.21 WHIP 1.8 PW 23 WS 4.0 WARP3
Groom finally provided the Nats with an effective second starter behind Johnson. This was his best season on the mound. Groom’s 1912 ERA was more than a full run lower than his 1911 effort.

P Tom Hughes 13-10 2.94 ERA 1.42 WHIP 0.7 PW 12 WS 1.4 WARP3
Not only did Washington have a good number two starter, but they were solid three deep thanks to the efforts of Hughes. Hughes will spend the 1913 season being a regular out of the bullpen, one of the first pitchers ever to do so (an innovation often credited to Griffith).

P Carl Cashion 10-6 3.17 ERA 1.49 WHIP 0.5 PW 12 WS 1.6 WARP3
Cashion played four seasons with Washington. This was his only appearance as a regular; he pitched in only 17 games in 1911, 1913, and 1914 combined.

1912 World Series
Both leagues’ pennant races were decided early, and the World Series was a showdown between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Giants. Under manager (and former Nat) Jake Stahl, the Red Sox took the series 4-3-1.

Game 128: Detroit Tigers (73-50) @ Minnesota Twins (67-60)

February 27, 2007

Tuesday August 25, 1987

Tigers 5, Twins 4

The Twins’ lead in the AL West was cut to one game with their fourth loss to the AL East leading Tigers in the past week.

Joe Niekro allowed only four hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched, but seven walks, a wild pitch, and a hit batter allowed the Tigers to make those four hits into five runs, enough to hold off the Twins and win the game.

Player of the Game
Kirk Gibson 2-5, 2 RBI

AL West Standings through 8/25 (Retrosheet)

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Minnesota Twins                128   67   61    0  .523     -   632  654
Oakland Athletics              126   65   61    0  .516   1.0   658  600
California Angels              127   63   64    0  .496   3.5   593  610
Kansas City Royals             125   61   64    0  .488   4.5   537  541
Texas Rangers                  125   60   65    0  .480   5.5   677  682
Seattle Mariners               126   59   67    0  .468   7.0   583  654
Chicago White Sox              125   52   73    0  .416  13.5   567  601

Tomorrow vs Detroit: Frank Viola (L) 14-8 2.90 vs Frank Tanana (L) 13-8 3.69
Friday-Sunday @ MIL
Tuesday-Thursday vs BOS
9/4-9/6 vs MIL
9/7-9/9 vs CHW

Game 127: Detroit Tigers (73-49) @ Minnesota Twins (66-60)

February 26, 2007

Monday August 24, 1987

Twins 5, Tigers 4

The Twins returned to “Dome sweet Dome” with a ninth inning win over the Detroit Tigers; the team that swept them last week and led the AL East coming into the game.

A pre-game speech by Tom Kelly that was about as emotional as the first-year manager gets may have provided the team with a spark. Sinker reports:

He talked to the players and coaches for about 20 minutes, letting them know he had been seeing an attitude recently that reminded him of the losing ways of recent years.

It is no way, he stressed, for a first-place team to act. The rest of the Western Division, from Oakland to Chicago, still is chasing the Twins – and this is no time for a bad attitude, not with 35 games remaining in a season with dreamlike potential.

“I didn’t jump up and down,” Kelly said, “but I had a few thoughts. I made some comparisons from last year to this year. If you don’t have a good attitude about playing, you shouldn’t be out there. I know I can’t speak for everybody, but we don’t have any room for anybody getting that kind of attitude, because that sort of thing is so contagious. . . . I feel better, but I was hoping we’d never get in a position where I’d have to do it.”

With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, Kent Hrbek singled home the game-winner. The win ended the worst stretch of the season: a six game losing streak.

Player of the Game
Kent Hrbek 1-2, 3 BB, 1 R, GW RBI

AL West Standings through 8/24 (Retrosheet)

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Minnesota Twins                127   67   60    0  .528     -   628  649
Oakland Athletics              125   64   61    0  .512   2.0   649  593
California Angels              126   62   64    0  .492   4.5   588  609
Kansas City Royals             124   61   63    0  .492   4.5   529  526
Texas Rangers                  124   59   65    0  .476   6.5   662  674
Seattle Mariners               125   59   66    0  .472   7.0   580  648
Chicago White Sox              124   52   72    0  .419  13.5   564  594

Tomorrow vs Detroit: Joe Niekro 3-5 5.59 vs Doyle Alexander 1-0 2.57
Wednesday vs DET
Friday-Sunday @ MIL
9/1-9/3 vs BOS
9/4-9/6 vs MIL

George McBride

February 26, 2007

George Florian “Pinch” McBride
November 20, 1880-July 3, 1973
Bats R, Throws R
5’11” 170 lbs
Playing Years: 1901-1920
.218/.281/.264 7 HR 1.5 BFW 127 WS 484 FRAR 45.9 WARP3
With Washington: 1908-1920
.221/.286/.268 5 HR 6.2 BFW 120 WS 449 FRAR 45.6 WARP3
Manager: 1921
Washington Nationals 80-73


George McBride was born in Milwaukee, WI on November 20, 1880. The son of Irish immigrants, McBride headed west to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to begin his baseball career in 1901. After a short season with the Sioux Falls Canaries, McBride made his way back to his native Milwaukee, where he heard that the fledgling American League Brewers were missing a shortstop due to an injury.

As the story goes, McBride showed up to the ballpark on September 12 and was invited by manager Hugh Duffy to suit up for the afternoon game. McBride ended up playing three games in Milwaukee before the end of the season.

In 1902, the Milwaukee Brewers moved to St. Louis and became the Browns. McBride decided to stay in Milwaukee, and became one of the few players to jump a major league contract for a minor league deal, spending that year in between Milwaukee and Kansas City, two members of the American Association.

McBride jumped around the minors for a few more years, and started to develop the defensive reputation that he would carry throughout his major league career.

McBride was signed by Pittsburgh in 1904, and reported for the 1905 season where he was used as a utility player and a backup for Honus Wagner. McBride was traded mid-season to the St. Louis Cardinals where he finally settled in to the every day short stop position.

McBride was already showing some promise in the field in St. Louis, compiling 17 FRAR in each of his two major league seasons, a span of 198 games. It wasn’t enough, however, to make up for his awful hitting. After putting up a .169/.215/.208 line by July of 1906, he was sold back to Kansas City (AA), where he spent the rest of 1906 and all of 1907.

McBride’s break came after working on his hitting in Kansas City. The Washington Nationals purchased him in 1908, and he would spend the rest of his career in the nation’s capital.

McBride was generally known as one of the best, if not the best, fielding shortstops of his era. Today’s sabermetrics seem to confirm that, racking up at least 40 FRAR every season he was a regular in Washington (1908-1916), the peak of which was in 1914 (55 FRAR).

While his defense made him famous, McBride’s performance at the plate was just barely enough to tread water. His best offensive season came in 1910, where he compiled 95 OPS+. In a time where batting average meant everything for a hitter, McBride struggled, hitting only .218 in his career (a slightly better .221 with Washington).

Somehow, McBride earned the reputation of a clutch hitter, and earned the nickname “Pinch” for his percieved ability to come through at the plate in big situations. It is likely that this perception, whether true or not, was a major factor in McBride’s ability to stay in the lineup despite his poor hitting record. In fact, McBride was an “iron man” of his era, playing in at least 150 games for seven straight seasons. In 1908, 1909, and 1911, he was the only man to take the field at shortstop for the Nationals.

McBride’s playing time took a nose dive in 1917, when, at the age of 36, he lost the regular shortstop job in favor of Howard Shanks. He played 50 games that year, followed by three more seasons with 18 or fewer games. Clark Griffith kept him around, however, grooming his eventual successor as manager. Griffith turned the managing reigns over the McBride for the 1921 season.

McBride’s managing career was cut short due to an unfortunate accident. In late July of 1921, he was struck in the temple by a thrown ball during a practice. He was out for a week, but the dizziness and fainting lasted through the rest of the season and the offseason, forcing McBride to resign as manager and retire from baseball.

McBride did manage to do some coaching a few years later, most notably as Ty Cobb’s right hand man with the Tigers in 1925 and 1926. He retired from baseball again, this time for good, at the age of 48. McBride returned to his hometown of Milwaukee where he lived on investments he made during his playing days until the age of 92.


Deadball Stars of the American League. David Jones, editor.

George McBride’s baseball prospectus card

Game 126: Minnesota Twins (66-59) @ Boston Red Sox (59-63)

February 25, 2007

Sunday August 23, 1987

Red Sox 6, Twins 4

The sixth loss in a row was in game in which the Twins actaully had a lead, but blew it as part of a five run fifth inning for the Red Sox.

The Twins took a 4-0 lead with the help of three home runs. The lead was 4-1 heading into the Red Sox half of the fifth. The Sox managed to load the bases with one out for Don Baylor, who has been attached to some trade rumors to the Twins that have been denied by Andy MacPhail. Baylor put the Sox ahead with a grand slam; a Dwight Evans home run later in the inning wrapped the scoring up at 6-4.

Greg Gagne did play in his 43rd consecutive errorless game, a new team record; but it was of little consolation on the heels of the worst road trip of the season.

Player of the Game
Don Baylor

AL West Standings through 8/23 (Retrosheet)

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Minnesota Twins                126   66   60    0  .524     -   623  645
Oakland Athletics              124   63   61    0  .508   2.0   642  590
California Angels              125   62   63    0  .496   3.5   586  606
Kansas City Royals             123   61   62    0  .496   3.5   527  522
Seattle Mariners               124   59   65    0  .476   6.0   577  641
Texas Rangers                  123   58   65    0  .472   6.5   658  672
Chicago White Sox              123   51   72    0  .415  13.5   558  591

Twins Stats through 8/23

Dan Gladden LF .253/.314/.344 4 HR
Greg Gagne SS .269/.306/.428 4 HR
Kirby Puckett CF .315/.353/.484 17 HR
Kent Hrbek 1B .276/.374/.549 31 HR
Gary Gaetti 3B .257/.305/.507 27 HR
Tom Brunansky RF .262/.351/.498 26 HR
Gene Larkin DH .269/.339/.409 4 HR
Steve Lombardozzi 2B .236/.296/.348 6 HR
Tim Laudner C .202/.261/.434 15 HR

Roy Smalley DH .287/.362/.445 8 HR
Al Newman UT .212/.285/.308 0 HR
Randy Bush RF .238/.331/.383 7 HR
Mark Davidson OF .271/.333/.347 1 HR
Sal Butera C .187/.232/.264 1 HR
Tom Nieto C .247/.310/.377 1 HR (IR)

Bert Blyleven 12-10 4.54/5.21/1.39
Frank Viola (L) 14-8 2.90/3.96/1.12
Les Straker 6-8 4.73/5.59/1.40
Joe Niekro 3-5 5.59/4.96/1.64
Steve Carlton (L) 1-4 8.78/6.34/2.17

Jeff Reardon 5-6 4.80/4.78/1.31
Juan Berenguer 5-0 3.83/3.95/1.31
Keith Atherton 4-4 4.48/4.00/1.44
George Frazier 5-5 4.84/4.84/1.54
Dan Schatzeder (L) 3-0 5.51/5.43/1.83

Tomorrow vs Detroit: Bert Blyleven 12-10 4.54 vs Walt Terrell 10-10 4.28
Tuesday-Wednesday vs DET
Friday-Sunday @ MIL
9/1-9/3 vs BOS
9/4-9/6 vs MIL

Game 125: Minnesota Twins (66-58) @ Boston Red Sox (58-63)

February 24, 2007

Saturday August 22, 1987

Red Sox 6, Twins 5

It was no consolation to the Twins that the game was close, though it could have been. For the past four days, the closest the team has come to winning is six runs down. The margin was only one in the second game of the series at Fenway, but a loss is a loss, and the five game losing streak equals the team’s largest of the season.

Boston jumped ahead 3-0 early, and were leading 5-2 in the seventh inning when a Gary Gaetti three-run home run evened the score.

Unfortunately for the Twins, the Sox countered immediately on a solo home run by Wade Boggs in the bottom half of the frame. The run held up, and the Twins’ lead in the West was cut to two games.


Greg Gagne entered the game as a defensive replacement, and played his 42nd consecutive errorless game to tie the team record.

Juan Berenguer was activated from the DL; Roy Smith was sent down to make room.

Player of the Game
Mike Greenwell 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 RBI

AL West Standings through 8/22 (Retrosheet)

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Minnesota Twins                125   66   59    0  .528     -   619  639
Oakland Athletics              123   63   60    0  .512   2.0   642  586
Kansas City Royals             122   61   61    0  .500   3.5   522  512
California Angels              124   61   63    0  .492   4.5   581  604
Seattle Mariners               123   59   64    0  .480   6.0   572  635
Texas Rangers                  122   58   64    0  .475   6.5   657  664
Chicago White Sox              122   50   72    0  .410  14.5   550  590

Tomorrow vs Boston: Steve Carlton (L) 1-3 8.49 vs Jeff Sellers 5-6 6.24
Monday-Wednesday vs DET
Friday-Sunday @ MIL
9/1-9/3 vs BOS
9/4-9/6 vs MIL

Game 124: Minnesota Twins (66-57) @ Boston Red Sox (57-63)

February 23, 2007

Friday August 21, 1987

Red Sox 11, Twins 3

Though it looked like a good pitching matchup on paper, Frank Viola did not hold up his end of the bargain. In his last 17 starts prior to this game, Viola was 12-2 with a 2.07 ERA. The streak would not continue as Viola was out of the game after only 4 1/3 innings, down 6-0. Roger Clemens, on the other hand, pitched into the seventh and allowed the Twins only one run.

Player of the Game
Roger Clemens

AL West Standings through 8/21 (Retrosheet)

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Minnesota Twins                124   66   58    0  .532     -   614  633
Oakland Athletics              122   62   60    0  .508   3.0   636  586
California Angels              123   61   62    0  .496   4.5   581  602
Kansas City Royals             121   60   61    0  .496   4.5   514  505
Seattle Mariners               122   58   64    0  .475   7.0   558  629
Texas Rangers                  121   57   64    0  .471   7.5   649  658
Chicago White Sox              121   50   71    0  .413  14.5   544  582

Tomorrow at Boston: Les Straker 6-7 4.53 vs Bob Stanley 4-12 5.01
Sunday @ BOS
Monday-Wednesday vs DET
8/28-8/30 @ MIL
9/1-9/3 vs BOS

Spring Cleaning

February 23, 2007

Regular visitors may have noticed that I have been putting some extra work into CW this week. Those of you who timed it just right may have even seen a few completely new looks. So far, I haven’t found the right one among the WordPress templates, so I am putting a full makeover on hold for now.

I have made a few other changes, including an overhaul of the categories in an attempt to make the archives easier to navigate. Readers can also email questions or suggestions to the email address under the contact tab at the top of the page.

There are several new links under Twins Blogs, including a couple of the much talked about Star Tribune blogs. Howard Sinker, whose work I have relied upon heavily for the Hot Stove 1987 series, is among them.

As far as content goes, I am adding some Baseball Prospectus stats, particularly in the Franchise Year by Year write ups. Starting with 1911, each player’s WARP3 and FRAR are a regular part of their stat line (I linked the definition for WARP1- WARP3 is basically WARP1 adjusted for all-time). As time allows, I will go back and add those to the previous posts as well. Both are adjusted to be useful for comparing players across eras, which will become more important as the team moves beyond the Deadball Era.

Game 123: Minnesota Twins (66-56) @ Detroit Tigers (70-47)

February 22, 2007

Thursday August 20, 1987

Tigers 8, Twins 0

Joe Niekro made his first start after being suspended for 10 games in the final game of a three game series against the AL East leading Tigers. He may have wished his suspension was longer. He lasted only into the third inning and gave up six runs.

The numbers from the series are ugly for the Twins. The Tigers swept the series and outscored the leaders of the West 26-3 in the process.

Doyle Alexander earned his first win as a Tiger by shutting the Twins out for eight innings. The veteran Alexander came over from Atlanta in a trade for a prospect named John Smoltz on August 12. Mike Henneman finished the game, and the shut out, by retiring the Twins in the ninth.

Player of the Game
Doyle Alexander

AL West Standings through 8/20 (Retrosheet)

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Minnesota Twins                123   66   57    0  .537     -   611  622
Oakland Athletics              121   61   60    0  .504   4.0   630  582
Kansas City Royals             120   60   60    0  .500   4.5   514  502
California Angels              122   60   62    0  .492   5.5   578  601
Texas Rangers                  120   57   63    0  .475   7.5   648  653
Seattle Mariners               121   57   64    0  .471   8.0   555  627
Chicago White Sox              120   49   71    0  .408  15.5   539  581

Tomorrow at Boston: Frank Viola (L) 14-7 2.78 vs Roger Clemens 12-7 3.29
Saturday-Sunday @ BOS
Monday-Wednesday vs DET
8/28-8/30 @ MIL
9/1-9/3 vs BOS