Friday June 30, 1995
Here is Jim Souhan’s account:
Cleveland slugger Eddie Murray’s rare and historic milestone Friday night at the Metrodome helped prevent another rare and historic achievement – a Twins home victory.
Murray became the 20th player in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits when he pulled a ground ball single through the right side of the infield, past the headlong dive of second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, in the sixth inning of Cleveland’s 4-1 victory.
An announced crowd of 27,416 spectators watched Murray reach the milestone in his 18th season.
Twins pitcher Mike Trombley, who threw the cutting fastball, will remember that the hit mattered, which is fitting. Throughout his 18-year career, Murray has prided himself on hitting when it matters. “It feels good to get it out of the way,” Murray said after the game, at a press conference.
“I think it will be nice to get things back to normal, even though it never bothered me.”
Trombley promised himself he would not pitch to Murray differently on Friday than he would have in any other game. Entering the game, Murray had gone 0-for-2 in his career against Trombley. “I ate him up early,” Trombley joked.
Trombley walked Murray on a full-count changeup in the second, and heard jeers. “I know the crowd was saying, `He’s not going to give him anything to hit all night,’ ” Trombley said. “But I was going to pitch to him the way I normally would.
“When I was a kid, if I would have gone to a game to see a 3,000th hit, I might boo, too. If I walked him four times, I wouldn’t have been happy, either.”
Murray led off the fourth in his next at-bat, and flew to center on a ball that, off the bat, looked like it had a chance to fall in. But center fielder Rich Becker easily caught it. “Rich is used to me pitching,” Trombley joked. “He broke back on the ball.”
Murray came up again in the sixth. The score was 1-1. Albert Belle led off with a double. Murray swung and missed at a changeup from Trombley, then Trombley threw a thigh-high fastball that he tried to keep on the outside part of the plate.
Murray pulled it on the ground between first and second. Knoblauch sprinted into short right field and dived, but missed.
“I wasn’t over as far as I should have been,” Knoblauch said. “He’s a pull hitter, and there was a runner on second, so he was even more of a pull hitter. I thought I had a chance, or I wouldn’t have dove. I’ve made that play before.”
Cleveland designated hitter Dave Winfield, who reached 3,000 hits as a Twin at the Metrodome on Sept. 16, 1993, led Murray’s teammates onto the field, and they embraced him. Pitcher Orel Hershiser picked Murray up and playfully bounced him off the ground.
Having this kind of milestone happen at the Metrodome might have been the highlight of the 1995 season. As Souhan noted:
Was it only four years ago that the Twins won the World Series and Cleveland finished with a record of 57-105?
Yes, it was 1991, when Cleveland, perhaps the most inept sports franchise of the century, had a franchise-worst winning percentage of .352.
That should put the Twins’ woes into perspective. They entered Friday’s game with a winning percentage of .293. That puts them on a pace to finish 42-102 this season.
The mark of a horrid team is losing 100 games in a 162-game season. The Twins have a chance to do it in the strike-shortened 144-game season.
For what it is worth, the Twins went 39-46 the rest of the way to finish with a somewhat respectable 56-88 record.