Game 160: California Angels (75-84) @ Minnesota Twins (88-71)

March 28, 2008

Friday September 30, 1988

Frank Viola took the mound for the final time in the 1988 season. While it wasn’t his finest performance, he did enough to earn his 24th win of the year. When he was removed after allowing four consecutive hits in the eighth inning, the fans gathered at the Metrodome cheered until Viola came out of the dugout for a curtain call.

“He had an outstanding season,” manager Tom Kelly said. “There were times a couple of years ago when I didn’t know if he was ever going to do that, if he was physically and mentally strong enough. He has proven he is a top-notch pitcher.”

-quoted by Tom Powers, Pioneer Press 10/1/1988

The Twins jumped ahead early, making the night fairly easy for Viola. After five innings, the Twins held a 7-0 lead with their ace pitcher seemingly cruising.

He ran into some trouble in the sixth, however. Jack Howell led off the inning with a double. Three consecutive one-out singles by the Angels plated two runs, including Howell, and put them on the scoreboard. Kirby Puckett’s RBI single in the bottom of the inning made the score 8-2.

The final inning of Viola’s magical season was a forgettable one. He didn’t retire a single batter while allowing four consecutive hit and three runs. Still, he was able to earn the victory on the strength of the Twins offense.

Jeff Reardon came on in the ninth inning and retired the Angels to earn his 41st save of the year.

Viola finished the 1988 season with a 24-7 2.64 ERA 1.14 WHIP 0.9 HR/9 1.3 BB/9 7.5 K/9.

Viola’s 24 wins ties him with Jim Perry for second most in franchise history, behind Jim Kaat who had 25 in 1966.

Box

Player of the Game
Kirby Puckett

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              160  103   57    0  .644     -   793  612
Minnesota Twins                160   89   71    0  .556  14.0   746  665
Kansas City Royals             159   84   75    0  .528  18.5   703  640
California Angels              160   75   85    0  .469  28.0   707  758
Chicago White Sox              159   69   90    0  .434  33.5   623  756
Texas Rangers                  159   69   90    0  .434  33.5   627  729
Seattle Mariners               159   67   92    0  .421  35.5   658  734

Game 159: Oakland A’s (101-57) @ Minnesota Twins (88-70)

March 27, 2008

Thursday September 29, 1988

The finger-pointing in the aftermath of Ben Johnson’s Olympic disqualification for steroid use was aimed at Oakland outfielder Jose Canseco during the A’s visit to the Dome.

Thomas Boswell, sports columnist for the Washington Post, called Canseco “the most conspicuous example of a player who made himself great on steroids.” Boswell made his comments to CBS newscaster Charlie Rose early Wednesday morning on the network’s “Newswatch.”

“It was an ignorant statement, and usually I don’t pay attention to ignorant statements,” Canseco said Thursday at the Dome after the A’s beat the Twins 6-2. “There was no background and no basis to it.

“He said I gained 50 pounds over a summer; that’s ridiculous. He’s not a very knowledgeable person. I have no idea where he got that stuff from. I was surprised as much as anybody else was.”

Canseco is the leading candidate for the American League MVP Award after becoming the first player in major league history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single season. Canseco told reporters yesterday that he has seen a partial transcript of the program and plans to confer with his agent, Dennis Gilbert, to pursue possible legal action.

“It’s really ignorant, not true and very slanderous,” Canseco said. “If he thinks I got to the major leagues because I used steroids, he’s crazy, because I’ve never used the stuff.”

Officials of both the Twins and A’s said yesterday that they were aware of no major league disciplinary policy governing steroid use, but both teams routinely counsel players against using the drug.

-Dennis Brackin, Star Tribune 9/30/1988

Canseco went 2-for-4 in the game with a two RBI double in the sixth inning that represented the final scoring in the 6-2 Oakland victory.

Tom Herr went 3-for-5 for the Twins, continuing a stretch of 11 games in which he has hit .356/.431/.444, much closer to the numbers the Twins were looking for than his .256/.352/.320 season mark to this point. Herr was sitting at .241/.340/.301 after play on September 17, the game prior to the 11-game stretch referenced above. Overall, it has been a disappointing season for Herr, who will likely play elsewhere in 1989.

“The period of adjustment after the trade was hard on me,” he said. “It has been a year of starting over. I’ve started over four times: the start of the season; then the trade and I had to start over; I got hurt and had to start over; then I was out a week sick and had to start over… . It was one thing after another and I haven’t been able to adjust.”

Meanwhile, Herr has heard about the Phillies’ interest in him and how they are experimenting with Juan Samuel in center field to clear a spot for him at second next season. The only question seems to be whether the Phillies will acquire him via trade or wait to sign him as a free agent, thereby giving up a draft choice.

“The opportunity to go to Philadelphia probably would be the ideal situation,” Herr said. “I’d be 80 miles from home and able to be with my family. That’s important to me.”

What the Phillies are willing to offer in terms of salary is unknown. Herr realizes he hasn’t had his best season.

“I wasn’t able to show what I could do in the American League, where they hadn’t seen me play. People in the National League know,” he said. “The only thing that is really disturbing is that I haven’t driven in many runs. The last three years in St. Louis I’ve been an RBI man. But my role changed this year. I walked a lot and my on-base percentage was pretty good. I set the table for Puck and Hrbek.”

A crowd favorite with the Cardinals, Herr knows that many of the fans in Minnesota are ambivalent toward him.

“Generally speaking, they’ve been rather cool to me,” he said. “There is a small section that really never accepted me, and I still hear them yelling things. Another group has cheered me all the way. Most don’t know what to think.”

The Twins will wrap up the 1988 season with a three-game weekend series against the Angels in the Metrodome.

Box

Player of the Game
Jose Canseco

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              159  102   57    0  .642     -   786  611
Minnesota Twins                159   88   71    0  .553  14.0   738  660
Kansas City Royals             158   83   75    0  .525  18.5   699  638
California Angels              159   75   84    0  .472  27.0   702  750
Chicago White Sox              158   69   89    0  .437  32.5   621  752
Texas Rangers                  158   68   90    0  .430  33.5   616  723
Seattle Mariners               158   67   91    0  .424  34.5   652  723

Game 158: Oakland A’s (100-57) @ Minnesota Twins (88-69)

March 26, 2008

Wednesday September 28, 1988

Dennis Brackin reported on the end of Bert Blyleven’s difficult 1988 season in the September 29 issue of the Star Tribune:

Bert Blyleven was 19 years old when he pitched his first game for the Twins. Blyleven, now 37, pitched what might have been his last game in a Twins uniform Wednesday night.

If that is to be the case, there was no happy ending. The veteran righthander lost 5-2 to Oakland, his 17th setback in 27 decisions. Blyleven tied a major league record by hitting three batters in one inning, but, as has been the case so often, was done in by another bad inning devoid of personal good fortune.

The A’s scored four fifth-inning runs on five hits: a fly-ball double off the right-field tarp, a sinking liner in front of left fielder Dan Gladden, a bunt, a ball that deflected off Blyleven’s glove and a turf single.

It was a fitting end to the season, a notion even Blyleven advanced. A happy finish would have been as out of place as cozy security at the conclusion of “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

“This definitely has to be my worst season ever,” Blyleven said. “I’m glad it’s over. . . . Why keep going out there and losing?”

It was fitting, too, that the Twins mustered two runs off four Oakland pitchers. The Twins have scored 17 runs in Blyleven’s last seven starts, five times being held to two runs or fewer. Oakland righthander Todd Burns shut out the Twins until Steve Lombardozzi’s inside-the-park home run with one out in the eighth.

On June 28, Blyleven was 7-6 with a 4.51 ERA. Unbeknownst to anyone, that was to be the high point of 1988. In 15 starts since, he is 3-11 with a 6.62 ERA, lifting his season’s ERA to 5.43. In his last 89 2/3 innings, he has given up 110 hits.

Blyleven and the organization seemed to treat this game as a farewell.

What the future holds remains uncertain. Blyleven said last night that he has not ruled out returning to the Twins. “I’ll consider my options at the end of the season and go from there,” he answered a half-dozen times to a half-dozen similar questions. “I sound like an attorney, don’t I?”

He also sounded like a man who sensed that he will not be returning in 1989. His awareness of the possibility, he said, was such that he hoped for a 1-2-3 ninth and a strikeout on the final batter. He settled for a two-out walk, then a harmless popup by ex-teammate Don Baylor. As he left the mound, Blyleven doffed his hat to acknowledge scattered applause from the crowd of 47,620. A farewell?

“That was to my wife, who’s supported me for 18 years. Through the ups and downs, she’s always there,” Blyleven said. “I bet her that I would go the full nine, and I haven’t done that for a while.”

Manager Tom Kelly and pitching coach Dick Such wouldn’t say it, but the implication was clear that the complete game was a tribute. Blyleven threw 137 pitches, which on almost any other night would have precluded his being there at the end.

Box

Player of the Game
Dave Parker

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              158  101   57    0  .639     -   780  609
Minnesota Twins                158   88   70    0  .557  13.0   736  654
Kansas City Royals             157   82   75    0  .522  18.5   692  632
California Angels              159   75   84    0  .472  26.5   702  750
Chicago White Sox              157   69   88    0  .439  31.5   615  745
Texas Rangers                  157   68   89    0  .433  32.5   615  718
Seattle Mariners               157   66   91    0  .420  34.5   647  722

Game 157: Oakland A’s (100-56) @ Minnesota Twins (87-69)

March 25, 2008

Tuesday September 27, 1988

With the division out of reach, some of the focus on the Twins has turned to individual records.

Kirby Puckett went 2-for-3 in the opening game of the three-game series with Oakland, putting his current batting average at .355. Though he is still trailing Wade Boggs (.368) in that department for the 1988 batting title, Puckett has a chance to finish with the highest batting average for a right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio hit .381 in 1939. The magic number for that accomplishment would be .358 to better DiMaggio’s own .357 from 1941.

The big story on Tuesday, however, was Allan Anderson. The lefty turned in his best performance of the season, allowing just three hits in a shut out effort against the AL West champs from Oakland.

Anderson’s performance put his season ERA at 2.45, 2nd in the AL behind Ted Higuera who sits at 2.41.

“I’m vaguely aware of my ERA, but I don’t calculate it out there and I don’t rush to the paper to read it in the morning,” said Anderson, who will start the season finale Sunday against California in an effort to overtake Higuera.

-quoted by Mike Augustin, Pioneer Press 9/28/1988

The win clinched second place in the AL West for the Twins, who were able to hold off the Royals. The announced attendance was 48,300, enough to set an American League season attendance record with 2,820,049 coming through the Metrodome turnstiles with five home games left to go.

Box

Player of the Game
Allan Anderson

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              157  100   57    0  .637     -   775  607
Minnesota Twins                157   88   69    0  .561  12.0   734  649
Kansas City Royals             157   82   75    0  .522  18.0   692  632
California Angels              158   75   83    0  .475  25.5   699  746
Chicago White Sox              156   68   88    0  .436  31.5   612  743
Texas Rangers                  156   68   88    0  .436  31.5   613  715
Seattle Mariners               157   66   91    0  .420  34.0   647  722

Game 156: Minnesota Twins (86-69) @ California Angels (75-81)

March 23, 2008

Sunday September 25, 1988

Both papers’ headlines read that the Twins were able to “steal” a victory from the Angels on their way to a four game sweep in Anaheim.

In fact, that is exactly what the Twins and Dan Gladden did.

With the score tied at two in the top of the seventh, Gladden worked a one-out walk from Dan Petry. On Petry’s next pitch, Gladden took off and successfully stole second base. Gladden moved to third on a ground out to set up the game-winning run.

Gladden walked with one out in the seventh and stole second. He moved to third on Tom Herr’s ground ball and immediately flashed a sign to Kelly. Kelly declined on the first pitch, opting to give Bush a swing. But Gladden, who had been part of a sputtering Twins offense, kept asking.

“I asked for it,” said Gladden. “I hadn’t done anything with the bat and I wanted to contribute. I wasn’t doing it at the plate so I did it with my speed.”

Gladden had bluffed toward the plate on the previous pitch, but Angels’ starter Dan Petry (3-8) did little more than glance.

“With two out I don’t think he was paying much attention to me,” said Gladden, who has stolen home twice this season and is the only Twin to do so since Rod Carew in 1976. “I bluffed the pitch before, trying to get him to balk. He probably figured I wasn’t going.”

-Mark Vancil, Star Tribune 9/26/1988

Gladden took off and successfully stole home. The Twins added some insurance runs in the later innings, including a Kirby Puckett home run, and won the game 6-2.

Frank Viola won his 23rd game of the season by allowing two runs and nine hits over seven innings pitched.

“This one felt good,” said Viola, who had worked 245 innings without an intentional walk. “It was a good day’s work. When I needed to make a pitch I did. It feels good to be able to win when you know you don’t have your best stuff. I really worked for it. Then Danny scored. That was a hell of a play. It was awesome.”

The game was the last road game for the Twins in 1988. After posting a horrible 29-52 record in road games the year before, the Twins ended 1988 with a 44-37 record in away games.

Box

Player of the Game
Frank Viola

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              156  100   56    0  .641     -   775  602
Minnesota Twins                156   87   69    0  .558  13.0   729  649
Kansas City Royals             155   81   74    0  .523  18.5   684  622
California Angels              157   75   82    0  .478  25.5   694  740
Chicago White Sox              154   67   87    0  .435  32.0   606  736
Texas Rangers                  154   67   87    0  .435  32.0   606  709
Seattle Mariners               155   65   90    0  .419  34.5   637  714

Game 155: Minnesota Twins (85-69) @ California Angels (75-80)

March 22, 2008

Saturday September 24, 1988

Jeff Reardon had been fairly reliable all season and was having his best year in a Twins uniform (and probably his best season since 1982). Still, there were occasional hiccups, one of them coming here against the Angels.

After Fred Toliver and Mike Witt exchanged scoreless innings for the first six, the Twins finally got on the board in the seventh. Kirby Puckett, on a tear, doubled home Randy Bush to break the ice, and Puckett himself came home on a Dan Gladden sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.

After Toliver retired the Angels in order in the bottom of the seventh, he ran into problems in the eighth. Brian Downing singled and Dick Schofield worked a walk to send Toliver to the showers early with nobody out. Enter Reardon, who Tom Kelly imagined would shut the door on a struggling Angels team. After a sacrifice bunt by Mark McLemore sent two runners into scoring position, Johnny Ray hit them home with a single right under Reardon’s glove, and hung an eighth blown save on Jeff Reardon.

The Twins took the lead back in the ninth, however, when two consecutive singles to lead off the inning set the stage for the go-ahead run to score on a sacrifice fly by Jim Dwyer. Reardon looked as though he might run into some trouble in the bottom of the ninth, but worked his way around two singles to earn the win.

Box

Player of the Game
Fred Toliver

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              155  100   55    0  .645     -   773  598
Minnesota Twins                155   86   69    0  .555  14.0   723  647
Kansas City Royals             154   81   73    0  .526  18.5   679  616
California Angels              156   75   81    0  .481  25.5   692  734
Texas Rangers                  153   67   86    0  .438  32.0   601  701
Chicago White Sox              153   66   87    0  .431  33.0   600  731
Seattle Mariners               154   64   90    0  .416  35.5   629  709

Game 154: Minnesota Twins (84-69) @ California Angels (75-79)

March 21, 2008

Friday September 23, 1988

Before the game the Twins announced that Allan Anderson, yesterdays winner, had earned an extra start. With a little juggle of the rotation, Tom Kelly was able to add a game for Anderson, who is now scheduled to pitch the season finale against the Angels at the Metrodome.

On the field, things weren’t looking good for the Angels.

There are 45 seats in the front row of Anaheim Stadium’s press box, and Friday night there was room for 30 guests. Hours after California manager Cookie Rojas was fired, five of those seats were filled by working members of the media.

But as the Angels went through the motions of another meaningless game, the Twins somehow managed to ignore the silence of a crowd that saved its biggest cheers for Olympic updates. These are individual battles now, and the Twins won all of them last night in a 7-1 victory.

Charlie Lea had something to play for after missing a month, manager Tom Kelly talked about 90 victories and Kirby Puckett continued to assault his own career bests. In and around those moments the Twins also showed off a defense that is in the process of rewriting the record books for fewest errors in a season.

Puckett led the second straight victory with three hits and three RBI while running his batting average to .354. He now has 221 hits, two short of his career high, and 114 RBI.

“We got some good pitching from Charlie and Roy Smith did a great job,” said Kelly. “Plus we made some plays in the field to help out and we got the bats going later on. It all worked out.”

The Twins (85-69) also matched last season’s victory total and with eight games left could become the first Twins team since 1970 to win 90.

Roy Smith came on in relief in the fifth inning, allowing just two hits on the way to the Twins’ win.

Box

Player of the Game
Kirby Puckett

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              154   99   55    0  .643     -   768  596
Minnesota Twins                154   85   69    0  .552  14.0   720  645
Kansas City Royals             153   80   73    0  .523  18.5   673  614
California Angels              155   75   80    0  .484  24.5   690  731
Texas Rangers                  152   67   85    0  .441  31.0   601  698
Chicago White Sox              152   66   86    0  .434  32.0   598  725
Seattle Mariners               153   63   90    0  .412  35.5   626  709

Game 153: Minnesota Twins (83-69) @ California Angels (75-78)

March 20, 2008

Thursday September 22, 1988

Tom Powers summed up Allan Anderson’s season so far in his game story:

Thursday night at Anaheim Stadium, Allan Anderson won his 15th game of the season – a remarkable feat for several reasons. First, he began the season in Class AAA Portland. Second, Anderson had never shown an inclination toward being an excellent pitcher. He was always just sort of there.

Anderson and the Twins beat the Angels 6-2 on Thursday to snap a four-game losing streak.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever won 15, that’s for sure,” Anderson said. “I won 12 in A-ball one year.”

“Fifteen wins for the kid, that’s a hell of a year,” manager Tom Kelly said. “He pitched really good out there tonight. And he’s got one, maybe two more times to get out there again.”

The Twins scored all the runs that Anderson would need in a three-run third inning. With Terry Clark on the mound, the makeshift Twins’ lineup managed five singles, a walk, and a sacrifice fly to put together the scoring. The offense wasn’t terribly efficient, as Powers noted:

The Twins were finding so many holes that it didn’t seem to matter they were wasting so many of their singles. And they were wasting quite a few. At one point, they had five runs and 14 hits. Still, they kept after it, chopping and running and putting pressure on the Angela defense, which buckled a couple of times. In the eighth, for instance, an error by third baseman Jack Howell and a passed ball by catcher Darrell Miller led to the Twins’ sixth run.

The bottom line is that the Twins broke out of the slump.

After Anderson’s performance, the AL ERA leader board looks like this:

1. Ted Higuera, MIL 2.40
2. Frank Viola, MIN 2.54
3. Allan Anderson, MIN 2.56

Box

Player of the Game
Allan Anderson

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              153   98   55    0  .641     -   759  588
Minnesota Twins                153   84   69    0  .549  14.0   713  644
Kansas City Royals             152   80   72    0  .526  17.5   673  612
California Angels              154   75   79    0  .487  23.5   689  724
Texas Rangers                  151   66   85    0  .437  31.0   598  696
Chicago White Sox              151   65   86    0  .430  32.0   596  725
Seattle Mariners               152   63   89    0  .414  34.5   624  706

Game 152: Minnesota Twins (83-68) @ Oakland A’s (97-55)

March 19, 2008

Wednesday September 21, 1988

Seven weeks ago Blyleven turned down $1 million on the advice of his agent. The Twins, hoping to avoid an awkward offseason, offered Blyleven a two-year deal worth at least $1.9 million.

That Blyleven was suffering through a miserable second half of his 19th season seemed lost on everyone. Executive vice president Andy MacPhail hedged that reality with a performance clause. Blyleven, who expected a shot in the free-agent market, thought his season would turn around.

Pitch 195 innings in 1988, said MacPhail and you’ll get $1 million guaranteed for 1989. Blyleven agreed, then backed off. The right idea, the wrong results.

-Mark Vancil, Star Tribune 9/22/1988

Blyleven’s struggles continued against the A’s, though to be fair he wasn’t the only Twin struggling.

Most of Kelly’s firepower remained on the bench, too, as injuries and slumps continued to decimate the Twins offense. Gary Gaetti, who probably won’t play in the field again this season, Kent Hrbek, Dan Gladden, Greg Gagne, Tim Laudner and Brian Harper all watched as Kelly filled the lineup with replacement players.

That didn’t show either. Gene Larkin, who will get a couple days off at California, is in a 3-for-32 drought. Laudner (3-for-30), Al Newman (4-for-39), Gagne (3-for-22) and Gladden (9-for-48) also are dragging.

The A’s powered their way to a sweep of the Twins with a 6-3 victory in the series finale. Blyleven lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs, an outing made more disappointing by the fact that the A’s were playing with mostly a “B” team lineup with Canseco, McGwire, and Dave Henderson all on the bench.

The Twins managed just three runs against Bob Welch, and were shut down in the final innings by Dennis Eckersley for the third straight game.

Box

Player of the Game
Dave Parker

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              153   98   55    0  .641     -   759  588
Minnesota Twins                152   83   69    0  .546  14.5   707  642
Kansas City Royals             152   80   72    0  .526  17.5   673  612
California Angels              153   75   78    0  .490  23.0   687  718
Texas Rangers                  151   66   85    0  .437  31.0   598  696
Chicago White Sox              151   65   86    0  .430  32.0   596  725
Seattle Mariners               152   63   89    0  .414  34.5   624  706

Game 151: Minnesota Twins (83-67) @ Oakland A’s (96-55)

March 18, 2008

Tuesday September 20, 1988

For the Twins, the 1988 race has become about second place. Though they have held that position in the AL West for the better part of the season, the Royals stood just four games behind them the day after the Twins were eliminated from the race for first.

The Twins did themselves no favors in game two of the series in Oakland.

Despite the fact that the game held little meaning for the 1988 AL West Champions, they put a beating on the 1987 AL West Champions and their best pitcher, Frank Viola.

Viola, who is the front runner for the AL Cy Young Award, had his worst outing of the season. He was removed from the game with two outs in the fourth inning, the A’s already ahead 6-0.

The A’s continued the onslaught against the Twins bullpen, including a seventh inning home run by Don Baylor and an eighth inning home run by Tony Phillips. The final tally was 12-3 in favor of Oakland.

Jose Canseco stole a base in the third inning, his 38th of the season. Two more steals and Canseco will become baseball’s first 40-40 man.

Box

Player of the Game
Tony Phillips

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Oakland Athletics              152   97   55    0  .638     -   753  585
Minnesota Twins                151   83   68    0  .550  13.5   704  636
Kansas City Royals             151   79   72    0  .523  17.5   668  608
California Angels              152   75   77    0  .493  22.0   684  708
Texas Rangers                  150   66   84    0  .440  30.0   597  690
Chicago White Sox              150   64   86    0  .427  32.0   590  724
Seattle Mariners               151   63   88    0  .417  33.5   620  701