1987: Twins win the West

I originally posted this two years ago as part of the Hot Stove 1987 series.

Monday September 28, 1987

Twins 5, Rangers 3

Twins Clinch AL West Title

For 24 out of 31 players on the Twins’ roster, the celebration was completely new. Those players had never won at the major league level before Monday’s clincher in Texas.

For six players, the win had to be particularly sweet. Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, Frank Viola, Tim Laudner, and Randy Bush all came up together in 1982. That season, the Twins lost 102 games, the worst record since the franchise moved to Minnesota. Now, six seasons later, they were pouring champagne on each other in the clubhouse at Arlington Stadium.

It didn’t look as though the celebration would happen early. Joe Niekro allowed three runs in the first inning. That Texas lead held until the top of the fourth. With two on and two out, Steve Lombardozzi launched a drive into the left field bleachers. The score remained tied until the eighth.

Once again, Lombardozzi came through with an RBI single to put the Twins ahead. An insurance run scored on a balk, but the Twins focus turned towards finishing the game before the Royals-Mariners game (a game the M’s led throughout) became a final.

At about 10:35 PM, Jeff Reardon coaxed Geno Petralli to hit a liner to Lombardozzi at second; Lombo relayed to Hrbek for the double play, and the celebration began.

The night’s hero summed it up to Mark Vancil in the Star Tribune:

“We wanted to get it over before they flashed a final on the Kansas City game,” Lombardozzi said. “We wanted to win it ourselves. And we went out and did it. I wanted to make the 1987 highlight film. Now I’m in Twins history forever.”

Though the celebration continued into the night, all eyes now turn to the AL East race that will determine who the Twins play in the 1987 ALCS.

Player of the Game
lombo.JPG
Steve Lombardozzi

AL West Standings through 9/28 (Retrosheet)

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Minnesota Twins                157   85   72    0  .541     -   774  777
Kansas City Royals             157   78   79    0  .497   7.0   682  679
Oakland Athletics              156   77   79    0  .494   7.5   781  752
Seattle Mariners               156   74   82    0  .474  10.5   728  770
California Angels              156   73   83    0  .468  11.5   737  772
Texas Rangers                  156   73   83    0  .468  11.5   796  817
Chicago White Sox              156   72   84    0  .462  12.5   711  734

Tomorrow at Texas: Dan Schatzeder (L) 3-1 6.00 vs Charlie Hough 17-12 3.80
Wednesday @ TEX
Friday-Sunday @ KC

Both the Blue Jays and the Tigers lost, meaning that Toronto’s lead remains at 2.5 games over Detroit. The Jays took three of four games from the Tigers in Toronto over the weekend to earn the significant edge for the final week. The two teams are set for a three game series to end the season, but the Blue Jays hope to wrap up the division before then.

AL East Standings through 9/28 (Retrosheet)

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Toronto Blue Jays              157   96   61    0  .611     -   835  637
Detroit Tigers                 156   93   63    0  .596   2.5   866  717
Milwaukee Brewers              157   88   69    0  .561   8.0   842  801
New York Yankees               156   86   70    0  .551   9.5   766  737
Boston Red Sox                 156   74   82    0  .474  21.5   817  804
Baltimore Orioles              156   65   91    0  .417  30.5   709  847
Cleveland Indians              156   60   96    0  .385  35.5   711  911

Remaining Games:
Toronto: vs MIL (2); @ DET (3)
Detroit: vs BAL (3); vs TOR (3)

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One Response to 1987: Twins win the West

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