Tuesday May 14, 1991
Three seasons after the World Championship in 1987, the Twins found themselves in the division cellar. The nucleus of that ’87 team was still there, but the Twins had trouble scoring runs in 1990, and the pitching staff lacked the starting ace that the team had in Frank Viola in 1987.
Both of those problems were addressed in the off season. The Twins brought in Chili Davis to solidify the lineup (he was hitting .317/.444/.583 through 5/13), and were already getting some production out of rookie second baseman Chuck Knoblauch (.336/.398/.434 through 5/13).
On the pitching end, the Twins paid $3 million and brought in St. Paul native Jack Morris to anchor the starting rotation. Morris, bothered by the flu early in the season, had gotten off to a bit of a rough start (2-4, 5.89 ERA), causing some fans to wonder if the veteran was worth the money.
Good starts by Scott Erickson (5-2, 1,45 ERA) and Kevin Tapani (2-2, 2.66 ERA), however, made it look as though this team might contend. Still, they found themselves in the middle of the AL West pack with a record of 16-15 in their first 31 games.
The opponents for a three-game mid-week series at the Metrodome were the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew-crew had a lot of success under manager Tom Trebelhorn, but tailed off a bit in 1990. They came into the game with a 13-16 record, and hadn’t won a ballgame since May 3, when they defeated Morris and the Twins in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Brewers Minnesota Twins 1. P Molitor DH 1. D Gladden LF 2. J Gantner 3B 2. C Knoblauch 2B 3. G Vaughn LF 3. K Puckett CF 4. R Yount CF 4. K Hrbek 1B 5. G Brock 1B 5. C Davis DH 6. D Bichette RF 6. B Harper C 7. W Randolph 2B 7. P Munoz RF 8. B Surhoff C 8. M Pagliarulo 3B 9. B Spiers SS 9. G Gagne SS J Navarro P J Morris P
The game was a pitcher’s duel early. Jack Morris and Jamie Navarro exchanged scoreless innings for the first five. The Twins had managed five hits off of Navarro, the Brewers had only one. After a perfect top of the sixth for Morris, the Twins’ bats finally showed up in the bottom of the sixth.
After Kirby Puckett grounded out when he attempted to bunt for a hit, Kent Hrbek reached with a single to right. Chili Davis, the man acquired to bring some power to the Twins, supplied just that with a two-run home run. The shot was Davis’ eighth of the season, and his fourth in three days. Later in the inning, Mike Pagliarulo doubled home Pedro Munoz to push the Twins’ lead to 3-0.
The Brewers manufactured a run off of Morris in the seventh. A lead off double by Jim Gantner did most of the damage, and he scored on a ground out by Greg Brock. Gantner’s double was his second hit of the game, the only base hits of the game for the Brewers.
Brian Harper knocked in two more runs with a double in the eighth, and Jack Morris shut the Brewers down in the final innings. The Twins won the first game of the series, 5-1.
“I just wanted to shake someone’s hand at the end of a game again,” said Morris, whose only previous complete game was a loss. “It felt good. I was thinking the whole game that I needed to complete this game. I’m glad (Kelly) left me in there to do it and let me get through that rough inning (the seventh).” -Star Tribune
Stars of the Game
1. Jack Morris 9 IP 2 H 1 R
2. Chili Davis 2-4, 2-run HR
3. Kent Hrbek 3-4, 2 R