1987 Twins vs 2009 Twins: Game 7

June 18, 2010

2009 Twins Score Four in Eighth Inning to Win a Wild Game 7

The 1987 Twins had a two run lead heading into the eighth inning, thanks in part to Roy Smalley’s three-run home run. The hope for Tom Kelly was that Keith Atherton could pitch a scoreless eighth paving the way for Jeff Reardon in the ninth. Those plans never came to fruition.

While Atherton had recorded three outs by facing two batters in the previous inning, he was greeted in the eighth with back-to-back home runs by Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer (the second of the game for the right fielder) that tied the game at 7-7.

After retiring the next two batters he faced, Atherton issued a walk to pinch-hitter Jose Morales. Kelly went to Reardon to try and maintain the tie. Nick Punto greeted the closer with a single to short left field. Reardon then made a pitch to Span that should have ended the inning. A routine grounder to one of the most reliable shortstops in baseball is converted to an out 99 out of 100 times or more, but this time Greg Gagne fumbled the ball and everyone was safe.

With the bases loaded, Ron Gardenhire went to the bench to look for the hero of the tie-breaker game against the 2009 Tigers: Alexi Casilla. With the bases loaded and two outs, Casilla came through again with a bleeder up the middle that scored two runs and put the 2009 Twins ahead, 9-7.

Joe Nathan worked around a couple of ninth inning hits to close the door and earn his fourth save of the series. After the 1987 Twins took the lead, Matt Guerrier settled things down with two scoreless innings of work. For his effort he earned the win.

Kirby Puckett was named the series MVP, batting .467/.467/.553 with six runs scored a three RBI in his team’s losing effort.

Box and PBP Below the Fold
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1987 Twins vs 2009 Twins: Game 6

June 17, 2010

‘M & M Boys’ Too Much For 1987 Twins, Game 7 Tomorrow

Justin Morneau singled home Orlando Cabrera in the first inning, then knocked in three more runs with a home run off of Les Straker in the third inning. Joe Mauer added a solo shot in the fifth inning, and the 2009 Twins held a 5-1 lead in Game Six.

The 1987 Twins made it a ballgame by scoring a run in each of the fifth through eighth innings, but they weren’t able to score on Joe Nathan, who earned his third save of the series by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

Nick Blackburn earned the victory by allowing three earned runs over the course of eight innings pitched. It seemed to be his day early on – he retired the first 10 batters he faced. The first base runner was Greg Gagne, who was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning. A Kirby Puckett single pushed Gagne to third, but Blackburn escaped the inning when Kent Hrbek grounded into a double play.

Blackburn then went on to allow a run in each of the next four innings, including a Tom Brunansky solo home run in the sixth inning. It was not enough for the ’87 team, of course, and they are now forced to play a seventh game in a series that they led three games to one.

Frank Viola will make his third start of the series in Game Seven. Carl Pavano will be the opposing pitcher at the 2009 Metrodome.

Box and PBP below the fold.

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1987 Twins vs 2009 Twins: Game 5

June 15, 2010

Jason Kubel Knocks in Three, Helps ’09 Team Stay Alive

Neither Bert Blyleven nor Scott Baker allowed any runs in their first starts of the series. Baker went six scoreless to earn the victory in Game One, Blyleven pitched a complete game shutout in Game Two. While both pitched well in Game Five, the opposing offenses had a few more answers – both in the form of two-run home runs.

In the bottom of the second the 2009 Twins struck first. With Justin Morneau on second after his lead-off double, Jason Kubel launched a rocket to right-center off of Blyleven, who allowed 46 home runs during the 1987 regular season.

That looked like it might be enough for Baker, who was perfect through four innings, and didn’t allow a hit until the seventh. Kirby Puckett finally got to him with a single, and just as quickly Kent Hrbek ended the shutout and tied the game with one of his signature home runs over the Hardware Hank sign in right field.

Blyleven, who held the 2009 Twins scoreless after the Kubel home run, exited with the game tied after seven innings pitched. Dan Schatzeder started the eighth for the home team, and promptly allowed singles to both Mauer and Morneau. Keith Atherton came on to walk Michael Cuddyer to load the bases with no outs, giving Kubel another chance. While the result wasn’t a home run, it was just as dramatic, as Kubel blooped a single in front of Puckett in center field to score the go ahead run.

An insurance run scored on Delmon Young’s groundball double play, and it turned out the ’09 team would need that. Joe Nathan ran into some trouble in the ninth, thanks in part to another error committed by Orlando Cabrera at shortstop – his fifth of the series. The error resulted in a run when Nathan walked Roy Smalley with the bases loaded, but he was able to retire Tom Brunansky to extend the series.

Box and PBP below the fold.

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1987 Twins vs 2009 Twins: Game 4

June 14, 2010

Viola Shuts 2009 Twins Down; Gaetti, Gagne, and Lombo Provide Offense

The 1987 Twins can now clinch a series win on their home field. They earned that opportunity with a 6-1 win in Game 4 of the series.

Frank Viola went the distance. He allowed a single run. That came in the top of the first inning. With runners at first and second, Justin Morneau hit a single up the middle to score Orlando Cabrera. As it turned out, that is all the 2009 Twins offense would get.

The ’87 team answered with a solo home run by Gary Gaetti to lead off the second inning. The score remained tied at one until the bottom of the fifth, when Steve Lombardozzi hit his second home run of the series, this time out-of-the-park, to put his team ahead. Gaetti knocked in his second run of the game with a single in the sixth to make the score 3-1, with all three runs coming at the expense of ’09 starter Kevin Slowey.

The ’87 Twins added some insurance when Matt Guerrier entered the game in the seventh inning. With runners at first and second, Greg Gagne capped the scoring with a three-run home run to left-center field that made the final score 6-1.

Bert Blyleven will take the hill for the ’87 team in an attempt to wrap up the series. Scott Baker will be the opposition for Game Five.

Box and Play-by-Play below the fold.

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1987 Twins vs 2009 Twins: Game 3

June 11, 2010

Inside-the-Park Homerun Completes Comeback

The 2009 Twins had game three all but locked up heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. Behind the solid pitching of Carl Pavano, the timely RBI’s of Jason Kubel, and the home run by Joe Mauer – the MVP’s first offensive contribution to this series – Gardy’s boys had a 5-0 lead.

That’s when Pavano finally ran into trouble. Greg Gagne singled up the middle to start the inning. Kirby Puckett reached on an error by Orlando Cabrera, and Keny Hrbek walked to load the bases. Gary Gaetti’s RBI single put the ’87 Twins on the board for the first time, and chased Pavano from the game.

No problem, Gardy brought Matt Guerrier out with a four-run lead. Guerrier got Randy Bush to ground out, but allowed hits to the next two batters. Tom Brunansky’s RBI single made it a two-run lead and left runners at the corners with just one out.

Steve Lombardozzi laced the first pitch that he saw hard to center field. Carlos Gomez made a split-second decision to dive for the liner, and came up with nothing. The ball bounced slowly past him, all the way to the wall. By the time Denard Span was able to recover, Lombo was making the turn for home. His run represented the go-ahead run, and the 1987 team had completed the comeback.

Jeff Reardon ran into some trouble in the ninth, but was able to work his way out to secure the win and a 2-1 series lead.

Box and Play-by-play below the fold.

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1987 Twins vs 2009 Twins: Game 2

June 9, 2010

Blyleven’s Shutout Evens Series

The 2009 Twins could not figure out Bert Blyleven. Case in point: Joe Mauer batted .365/.444/.587 during the regular season, but went 0-for-4 against Blyleven – including two times in which he grounded into a double play. The only ball Mauer hit hard landed easily in Greg Gagne’s glove for the final out of the game.

Blyleven’s performance wasn’t a classic case of a pitcher dominating. He struck out five batters while walking four. Despite that, he had the ’09 Twins lineup off balance from the start. He allowed just three hits in the game – all singles. While he allowed seven base runners throughout  the game, four of them were erased on double plays.

The offense behind Blyleven did its part with a lot of help from the ’09 defense. Orlando Cabrera committed three errors at shortstop. In all, there were four errors committed, and three of the 1987 Twins’ six runs were of the unearned variety. It’s not as if the ’87 team didn’t earn the runs, however. They totaled 15 hits against opposing pitchers. Kirby Puckett went 4-for-5  and Kent Hrbek went 3-for-5. Every name in the 1987 lineup got at least one hit except for Tim Laudner.

The teams will move to the 1987 Metrodome with a slightly faster track and louder atmosphere for games three through five.

Boxscore and play-by-play below the fold.

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1987 Twins vs 2009 Twins: Game 1

June 8, 2010

ED.- These two teams both won division titles over relatively weak competition with similar records (85-77 in 1987; 87-76 in 2009), so I thought it might be fun to simulate a seven-game series between them. I constructed the rosters and lineups based on what I suspect the managers would do, but I let Diamond Mind do the rest.

Baker, Bullpen Outduel Viola

It was expected that the 2009 Twins would have problems solving lefty Frank Viola. While that was the case in game one, the story of the game was Scott Baker, Jose Mijares, Matt Guerrier, and Joe Nathan. The four pitchers combined for a six-hit shut out over the 1987 Twins to take a  lead in the best-of-seven series.

’09 Minnesota got the scoring started right away against Viola. With one out, Orlando Cabrera hit a swinging bunt between Viola and Kent Hrbek at first. With Cabrera safely at first, Viola was able to retire Joe Mauer on a sharp liner to Gary Gaetti at third, but he did not have so much luck with Justin Morneau. The Canadian first baseman hit a hard drive off the baggy in right, scoring Cabrera all the way from first.

Viola settled down, and at one point retired nine in a row. After allowing  lead off singles in both the second and third innings, Viola did not give up another hit until the eighth.

His performance was matched by Baker, who retired the first 11 men he faced. After six innings, Baker had allowed just three hits, and with just 68 pitches thrown it seemed he may have a lot left.

That’s when the managers took over. Perhaps in an effort to out-manage his teacher Tom Kelly, Ron Gardenhire went to the bullpen, calling for a lefty to face Kent Hrbek to start the seventh. Kelly countered by pinch-hitting for Hrbek. Don Baylor popped out. Though Mijares got into some trouble later in the inning, Matt Guerrier was able to end the inning without allowing a run.

A Michael Cuddyer sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth added an insurance run that proved unnecessary. Joe Nathan retired the ’86 Twins in order in the top of the ninth inning to clinch game one for the 2009 Twins.

Boxscore and Play-by-play below the fold.

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2006 Playoffs Redux: ALCS Game 7

May 28, 2009

Wednesday October 18, 2006

Twins’ Season Ends in Extra Innings, Monroe Sends Twins Packing with Two Home Runs

Just days ago the Twins had a 3-1 lead in the ALCS and what seemed like an absurd advantage with Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano scheduled to pitch Games 5 and 6. That the series even made it to a seventh game was a miracle by the Tigers, and they completed the run with a dramatic Game 7 victory highlighted by Craig Monroe’s 10th inning, game winning home run – his second of the game.

Things looked better for the Twins early in the game. With Kenny Rogers on the mound, Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer each knocked in first inning runs, both on ground ball singles.

Then in the second inning, the multi-time Gold Glove winner Kenny Rogers committed two consecutive errors to allow the Twins a 3-0 lead.

Though Radke was perfect the first time through the Detroit lineup, Craig Monroe got to him in the fourth inning with a two-run home run. The score remained 3-2 until the ninth inning.

Joe Nathan had come on to pitch in the top of the eighth with two outs. He promptly retired Magglio Ordonez on a lazy fly ball. The Twins had a lead with Joe Nathan on the mound entering the ninth, about as automatic as it gets. In this series, however, nothing has been automatic for the Twins. Carlos Guillen led off the inning with a double. The next batter, Ivan Rodriguez, took a Nathan pitch between Hunter and Cuddyer for a run scoring triple. With the score tied, Alexis Gomez hit a sacrifice fly to right. Though Nathan retired the next two batters, the Twins entered the bottom of the ninth trailing by one.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Luis Castillo provided some hope when he lined a single to left off of Todd Jones. Nick Punto followed with a single of his own, pushing Castillo to third. Joe Mauer lined the thid consecutive Twins hit to right to tie the score, and Cuddyer grounded out to send the game into extra innings and set up Monroe’s heroics for the Tigers.

Box and Play-by-play below the fold

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2006 Playoffs Redux: ALCS Game 6

May 27, 2009

Tuesday October 17, 2006

Tigers defeat Liriano, Force Game 7

Magglio Ordonez and hit a two-run home run off of Liriano as part of a 4-2 Detroit win that forces a seventh game in the American League Championship Series.

Ordonez’ bomb came in the fourth inning with Placido Polanco on first thanks to a single. It was Polanco who had started the scoring when he doubled home Craig Monroe in the first inning.

The home run gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead. They added an insurance run after Liriano left the game when Omar Infante homered to deep right center off of Matt Guerrier.

The lead held up despite a ninth-inning rally by the home team. Down by four, Joe Mauer lined a one-out double down the right field line. Two batters later Justin Morneau hit one over the baggie in right-center to cut the lead in half.

The pitch that ended up in the football seats was the final one thrown by Justin Verlander, who allowed just the two runs on seven hits in 8 2/3 innings pitched. He gave way for Todd Jones who got Torii Hunter to ground out to send the series to a seventh game.

Box and Play-by-play below the fold.

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2006 Playoffs Redux: ALCS Game 5

May 22, 2009

Sunday October 15, 2006
Comerica Park

Late Run Lifts Tigers on a Rainy Night, Series Returns to Metrodome

It took more than 71 minutes, but the Tigers finally pushed the eventual game-winning run across the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning.

The inning began with a walk issued to Marcus Thames by Juan Rincon and a light sprinkle from the sky. Rincon went on to strikeout Brandon Inge, but allowed Thames to advance to second on a wild pitch thrown in the first pitch of Omar Infante’s at bat. Infante reached on in infield single, pushing Thames to third, as the rain began to itensify. Before Curtis Granderson could step into the box, the teams were called into the respective dugouts for what turned out to be a 71-minute rain delay.

To just about everybody’s surprise, Ron Gardenhire sent Rincon back out to pitch when play was resumed. He promply allowed a line-drive single to left field that scored Thames and gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead.

After a ground-ball double play got the Twins out of the eighth with no further damage, they had an excellent chance to tie the game in the ninth. With Jamie Walker on the hill and one out, Torii Hunter reached with a single. Pinch-hitter Mike Redmond followed with a single of his own, a line drive to shallow center field. Without hesitating, Hunter sped around second trying for third, but was thrown out be a significant margin when Granderson threw a strike to Inge. It was a gamble that did not pay off, and Walker recorded the final out with a strikeout of Luis Rodriguez.

Johan Santana pitched well, allowing just two runs on three hits over seven innings pitched, but earned a no-decision. He struck out nine Tigers.

The series will shift back to the Metrodome with the Twins still needing just one win out of two games to secure a trip to the World Series.

Box and Play-by-play below the fold.

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