GOTW: 1999 Red Sox at Twins

Wednesday August 25, 1999

With the Twins 24.5 games out of first place in the AL Central, the white flag had been waved for the 1999 season. Perhaps the only interest from a Twins fan’s perspective was Brad Radke, whose 9-12 record was a bit misleading based on his 4.10 ERA entering his 26th start of the season (AL ERA in 1999 was 4.87). Radke’s start, however, only drew just over 11,000 fans to the Metrodome on a Wednesday night against the AL Wild Card leaders.

The Red Sox sent a former Twin to the mound against the Minnesota ace. Mark Portugal pitched for the Twins at the start of his career in the late 1980’s – now he was pitching against the Twins in his final major league season.

Mark Portugal 7-11 5.15 ERA 129.1 IP 35 BB 62 K

vs

Brad Radke 9-12 4.10 ERA 166.2 IP 31 BB 99 K

From LEN3’s game story:

Just because there are several rookies on the team doesn’t mean every victory is fueled by youth. The Twins have several proud veterans, and Wednesday was their day.

Ron Coomer belted a homer. Terry Steinbach almost ran for one. And Brad Radke stopped his team’s three-game losing streak in beating the Boston Red Sox 6-3 at the Metrodome.

After getting swept in Baltimore and then losing four of five on the homestand, the Twins made the most of eight hits and Radke’s golden arm.

“It was just good see anyone get some hits,” Twins manager Tom Kelly said.

Kelly pointed out his team finished a run in which they faced Roger Clemens and Hideki Irabu twice, and Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson and Pedro Martinez. An impressive run of arms, indeed. And the manager senses his team might be tired.

“It looks like they can use a day off,” Kelly said.

The Twins are off today before playing host to Kansas City this weekend. They will do so with momentum. They jumped on Red Sox starter Mark Portugal for two runs in the first inning, providing an early cushion for Radke.

Matt Lawton, another Twins veteran, hit a bases-loaded blooper to center field. Damon Buford’s charge was a hair late, and the ball bounced in front of him for a hit. Denny Hocking, on second at the time, never hesitated and was almost at third when the ball dropped inches in front of Buford’s reach. Two runs scored.

“Denny did a nice job of running the bases,” Kelly said. “If Buford catches the ball, then it would not have been so good of a job.”

Coomer socked his 15th homer of the season in the third inning. Portugal opened with a fastball to Coomer, who was expecting such a pitch. He has been struggling at the plate recently but had a classic swing on Portugal’s pitch, sending one of those no-doubt-about-it blasts into the left-center bleachers.

What a rare treat for Twins fans. Coomer’s homer was the first by a Twin on the homestand, and their 84th of the season – worst in the majors. More importantly, it’s a step forward for Coomer. His .269 average is not up to his standards, and he feels he can boost the Twins offense.

“If the worst is behind me, I can still have a decent season,” said Coomer, who leads the club in homers and is second in RBI.

Radke used the early support to take control of the game. He wasn’t as razor sharp as other outings, but he was effective. He didn’t use his changeup much Wednesday, instead going for a mix of sinking fastballs and curveballs. In 7 1/3 innings , Radke gave up two runs on four hits and two walks. He only had two 1-2-3 innings.

The Twins scored three runs in the sixth, putting the game out of reach. Marty Cordova drove a single to center field. Coomer followed with a shot into the left-center gap, easily scoring Cordova..

After Todd Walker struck out, Steinbach lifted a ball down the right field line. Trot Nixon, not known for his glovework, made an ill-advised dive for the ball and missed. With no one available to back him up, the ball rolled into the corner. Coomer jogged home. Steinbach chugged into third with a triple. Fans thought Steinbach should have been waived home, but third base coach Ron Gardenhire would have been charged with catcher abuse if he did.

“He looked at me like, `Gardy, don’t you even think about it,’ ” Gardenhire said.

Box

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