May 21, 1987

May 20, 2014

Indians 6, Twins 3

Thursday May 21, 1987
Cleveland Stadium

Play of the Game
Cory Snyder’s solo home run off of Bert Blyleven in the bottom of the second inning that broke the 0-0 tie.

Top WPA
Greg Swindell CLE 0.30 – CG 9 H 3 R 7 K
Cory Snyder CLE 0.21 – 3-for-4, 3 HR, 3 RBI
Kirby Puckett MIN 0.09 – 2-for-4, 2B

Worst WPA
Bert Blyleven -0.19 – 5 IP 11 H 5 R 4 HR 1 BB 1 K
Gary Gaetti -0.15 – 0-for-4 2 K
Tom Brunansky -0.13 – 0-for-4 2 K

A link to a previous post on this game.

Cory Snyder hit 33 home runs in 1987. Three of those came in this game, two off of Bert Blyleven. Snyder’s career line against Blyleven: 31 PA .286/.355/.821/1.176 4 HR 3 BB 12 K.

For Blyleven’s part, it was the 19th home run he allowed in 72.2 innings so far in the 1987 season. He was coming off of a 1986 season in which he had allowed a major league record 50 home runs, and was well on pace to break that record following this game. Thankfully, that pace slowed a bit, and he finished 1987 with “just” 46 home runs allowed.

Tim Laudner went 2-for-4 in this game. This finally brought his season batting average above the .100 mark (from .089 to .122).

 


May 12, 1951

May 11, 2014

Washington 5, Boston 4

Saturday May 12, 1951
Griffith Stadium

Top Play
The Nats had a 4-3 lead when Walt Dropo stepped to the plate for the Sox in the top of the 7th inning. There were runners at first and second base with two outs. Dropo singled off of Connie Marrero, scoring Bordreau from second to tie the game.

Top WPA
Gil Coan WAS 0.33: 3-for-5, 3 2B, Walk off sacrifice fly
Connie Marrero WAS 0.17: 9 IP 10 H 4 ER 7 BB 2 K, 1-for-3, BB and scored game winning run
Ed Yost WAS 0.13 2-for-4, 2B, RBI

Worst WPA
Chuck Stobbs BOS -0.30 3.2 IP, 8 H 4 RA 1 BB
Same Dente WAS -0.26 0-for-4, 2 GDP
Lou Bordreau BOS -0.14 0-for-3, 2 BB, E

Connie Marrero took matters into his own hands in the bottom of the ninth inning. After drawing a lead off walk from pitcher Mickey McDermott, Marrero made it to second on an attempted pick off throw by Boston catcher Matt Batts, and took third on a sacrifice bunt by Eddie Yost. He scored on Gil Coan’s sacrifice fly.

Ted Williams went 0-for-3 in the game, dropping his season batting average to .224. By the end of the season, it was up to .318, still low for Williams.

The win improved the Nats’ record to 13-7. The team was coming off a string on 5 straight seasons with a record below .500 (many well below .500). The team won 7 of their first 8 games, and there may have been some optimism around DC. This game marked the end of the positivity. They dropped four straight games immediately following the walk off win against Boston. Overall, they lost 25 of their next 30 games on the way to a 92-loss season.

 


May 5, 1959

May 4, 2014

Senators 8, White Sox 3
Comiskey Park

Big Play: In the bottom of the 6th inning, with his team trailing 4-1, Chicago’s Sherm Lollar hit a two-run home run to left field off of Senators pitcher Chuck Stobbs.

Top WPA:
Jim Lemon WAS 0.21 2-for-3, HR
Sherm Lollar CHI 0.16 2-for-4, HR
Ed Fitz Gerald WAS 0.14 2-for-3, SH, RBI Single

Worst WPA:
Billy Pierce CHI -0.19 3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 K
5 Players Tied -0.09

I was curious about Ed Fitz Gerald’s sacrifice hit. It came in the ninth inning when his team was up 8-3. That seems like something that would have ruffled some feathers. I couldn’t find anything about it in the game stories I found, nor is there any news about any brush backs or scuffles in the month following. Fitz Gerald was traded to Cleveland before May was over.

The Washington home runs in this game, Lemon, Allison, and Killebrew, are the seeds of the team that had so much success in Minnesota.

 

 

 

 


April 21, 2005

April 20, 2014

Metrodome
Thursday April 21, 2005
Twins 10, Royals 9

Top Play
With Mike MacDougal pitching in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jacque Jones doubled on a ground ball to left field, scoring Torii Hunter from third to tie the game.

Top WPA
Lew Ford MIN 0.40
Torii Hunter MIN 0.39
Jacque Jones MIN 0.32

Bottom WPA
Brian Anderson KC -0.66
Dave Gassner MIN -0.43
Shawn Camp KC -0.36

After this game, a lot of the focus was on a struggling Michael Cuddyer (from Mark Sheldon’s game story at MLB.com:

After Jacque Jones’ RBI double scored Hunter to tie the game at 9, Michael Cuddyer was up with runners on second and third with one out. Cuddyer, who has struggled in recent at-bats with runners in scoring position, grounded out to third.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire briefly contemplated pinch-hitting for Cuddyer, but decided it was important to stay the course with the third baseman.

“This young man is going to come up in a lot of big situations for us, and he’s going to have to drive in those runs for us,” Gardenhire. “It didn’t happen today, but we look for good things out of Michael Cuddyer.”

The game ended when the Twins loaded the bases with one out in the tenth inning.

Bartlett’s 10th-inning double to right field came off Kansas City reliever Shawn Camp (0-1). Torii Hunter was intentionally walked and the bases went full on Matthew LeCroy’s shallow single to left field.

Knowing he couldn’t take anything for granted, Bartlett readied himself as Kansas City drew its infield and outfield in.

“I was thinking, ‘Read this ball on the ground — I have to beat this ball home,'” Bartlett said. “I was looking for a chopper or something I could beat out, because I knew Lew would beat it out.”

“I was definitely looking up the middle or the other way,” said Ford, who was 4-for-6 in the game. “I didn’t want to roll over or hit a groundball to third base.”

Ford bounced a grounder that shot through the middle infield. Game over.

It was a day game after a night game, so Mike Redmond started at catcher, though Joe Mauer did enter the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth. He was intentionally walked. It appears that Redmond left the game after a play at home plate in the 8th inning, making way for a Corky Miller appearance. Miller, one of Gardenhire’s famous third catchers, stayed in long enough to catch Angel Berroa stealing for the last out of the top of the ninth inning before being removed for Mauer in the bottom half.

After starting pitcher Dave Gassner’s day ended before the end of the second inning, the Twins trotted out Matt Guerrier, J.C. Romero, Jesse Crain, Juan Rincon, and Joe Nathan. It was a very stacked bullpen in 2005.

 

 


April 11, 1975

April 10, 2014

Royals Stadium
Royals 8, Twins 3

Top Play:
With the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Freddie Patek knocked a two-run double down the left field foul line off of Twins reliever Bill Butler.

Top WPA:
Freddie Patek KC 0.23
Al Fitzmorris KC 0.17
Cookie Rojas KC 0.16

Bottom WPA:
Bill Butler MIN -0.28
John Mayberry KC -0.19
Glenn Borgmann MIN -0.16

killer

Of course I am aware that Harmon Killebrew spent his final season with the Kansas City Royals, but it is still somewhat odd to pick a random Twins game and find him in the opposing lineup. This was Killer’s first game against the Twins. He struck out in his first plate appearance against his former team. In the game, Killebrew was 1-for-4.

It was back in December of 1974 that Calvin Griffith had called Killebrew into his office. Harmon said he expected that to be the meeting where he signed his contract for the 1975 season. Instead, the team’s all-time homerun leader was offered a choice, accept an off-the-field position with the team, or be granted permission to speak with other teams. Killebrew thought he still had some baseball left, and worked out a deal with the Kansas City Royals.

Over the course of the 1975 season, Killebrew appeared in 11 games against the Twins. His slash line was .250/.447/.500/.947 with a double and two home runs.

This was the first of a three-game series, and the home opener for the Royals. The Twins were coming off a 2-1 start in Texas, but were ultimately swept by the Royals.

In a note next to this game’s boxscore in The Sporting News, it was reported that Twins’ trainer Dick Martin intended to continue the team’s running program throughout the season. He had the backing of manager Frank Quilici and Dr. Harvey O’Phelen, the team’s physician. Apparently some players had been complaining, but Martin stuck to his guns, saying that no player on the Twins was going to get winded running from first to third.

 

 


April 7, 2004

April 6, 2014

Metrodome
Indians 11, Twins 4

Big Play
In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Twins were down by 4 runs. Henry Blanco started the inning with a walk, followed by a Nick Punto single. With men at first and second, Cristian Guzman stepped to the plate to face Cliff Lee. Guzman grounded a 2-1 pitch right at the second baseman who started a 4-6-3 double play.

Top Players WPA
Matt Lawton CLE  0.17
Nick Punto MIN 0.14

Worst  WPA
Kyle Lohse MIN – 0.27
Cristian Guzman MIN -0.14

This game was the third of the opening three-game series of the season. The Twins and Indians played 26 innings of baseball in the previous two games – both Twins wins. Less important than the score of this game, however, was the injuries that were already beginning to pile up for the Twins. Torii Hunter left Tuesday’s game with a strained hamstring, and ultimately would go on the 15-day disabled list. Interestingly, it was Michael Cuddyer who spoke to Hunter to convince him that going on the DL was the right move.

More concerning for the Twins, however, was their star-in-the-making catcher, who was injured in only his second major league appearance.

In the top of the third inning against Cleveland Tuesday, Mauer ran behind the plate on Coco Crisp’s foul pop up. The 20-year-old said his shin guard got caught as he slid across the Metrodome’s new rubber warning track.

“I felt it as I soon as I slid,” Mauer said.

Mauer remained in the game though and led off the bottom of the third with a single. Later in the inning, he was running hard around third base on a Luis Rivas hit when he had to abruptly hold up.

“Once I started running and I got to third — it just locked up,” Mauer said. “I knew I had to get out of there.”

It was announced the next morning that Mauer needed surgery.

Mauer joined Hunter, Matthew LeCroy, and Grant Balfour as casualties of the first week of the 2004 season.

 


April 25, 1985

March 21, 2014

Twins 5, A’s 4

WPA Leaders
Kirby Puckett 0.31
Dwayne Murphy (OAK) 0.21
Greg Gagne 0.19

WPA Goats
Tom Tellman (OAK) -0.29
Dave Kingman (OAK) -0.13
Bill Krueger (OAK) -0.13

Big Play
With the score tied at four and one out in the ninth, Kirby Puckett singled home Tim Teufel to walk the Twins off the field with the win.

This game was the fifth in a string of ten consecutive wins for the Twins, just two short of the club’s biggest winning streak to that point. Over the course of the ten games, the Twins outscored the Mariners, A’s, and defending World Series champion Tigers 74-30.

Unfortunately for the 1985 Twins, the streak came immediately after a nine game losing streak, effectively making it a wash.

An interesting note: two of the four Oakland pitchers in this game, Keith Atherton and Bill Krueger, were future Twins. Atherton came on board in a trade just over a year later, and of course stuck around for a World Series ring. Krueger made a few other stops before joining the Twins in 1992.


May 26, 1971

March 15, 2014

County Stadium
Milwaukee, WI

Twins 4, Brewers 1

WPA Leaders
Bert Blyleven 0.29Leo Cardenas 0.20

WPA Goats
Skip Lockwood (MIL) -0.22
Steve Braun -0.11
Rick Auerbach (MIL) -0.11

Big Play
With the score tied at 1-1 in the top of the sixth inning and Jim Holt at first base, Leo Cardenas singled in front of right fielder Bill Voss who committed a throwing error in an attempt to get Holt at third. As a result of the error, Holt scored and Cardenas moved to third base. The Twins took a 2-1 lead and never looked back.

This was the second in a three-game series at Milwaukee that wrapped up a 10-game road trip for the Twins. The first seven games were in California – four against the Angels and three versus the A’s. The Twins had won just three of those four games, prompting a pregame pep talk from Twins manager Bill Rigney prior to the opening of the Milwaukee series on May 25.

The Twins, who won the AL West in both of the previous two seasons, were 6 1/2 games out of first. According to Bob Fowler’s account of Rigney’s speech, the manager suggested that the 1971 version of the Twins was not doing “the little things” like they did in the previous two seasons. He specifically mentioned a lack of bunting and poor base running. Rigney also called for an immediate stop to clubhouse “griping and moaning” that also didn’t occur in 1969 or 1970.

The players seemed to be introspective in response to the manager’s sermon. Tony Oliva suggested that it might “bring the club back together” and a few others expressed hope that it might be a turning point.

Pre-speech, the Twins were 21-21. They won their first two games following the speech, but went 53-65 for the rest of the season, finishing in 5th place.


1998: Spring Training Notes

March 13, 2014

March 1998

The two major stories coming out of the winter were the threat that the team may leave Minnesota and the Chuck Knoblauch trade.

In the fall following the 1997 season, the Carl Pohlad signed a letter of intent to sell the team to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver. The sale would be voided if funds were approved by the Minnesota Legislature for a new stadium, but if finalized, the team was destined to move to North Carolina. Several deadlines had come and gone by the time players reported for spring training, but the future of the team remained up in the air, and it was assumed by many that 1998 would be the final season for the Twins in Minnesota.

It was against this backdrop that the Terry Ryan began shopping the team’s best player. Knoblauch trade rumors had been a staple of hot stove talk in Minnesota for several years, but things finally heated up as both player and organization amped up efforts to trade. Initially, it appeared that Ryan might be asking too much for the second baseman. As the winter wore on, two teams that seemed most interested, Cleveland and Atlanta, backed out. Both said Ryan was asking for too much.

Ryan remained confident that a deal could be made before camp opened, and the focus shifted to the New York Yankees, who reportedly had been making a run at Randy Johnson. The deal was finalized in early February. The Twins received Eric Milton, Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman, and Danny Mota. It was expected that Milton and Buchanan had the best chance of making an immediate impact for the Twins. Milton, in fact, had a very good spring.

On the field, the news surrounded the new lead off hitter, Otis Nixon, and the status of Paul Molitor’s shoulder. Despite the fact that he was 39 years old, it was expected that Nixon would fill the leadoff role and steal some bases for the Twins. 41-year-old Molitor was recovering from double-hernia surgery in the offseason, but also had a slight tear of the left labrum. Molitor made his way into the lineup slowly, but was ultimately ready for Opening Day.


Spring Training Notes, 1956

March 8, 2014

Orlando, Florida

The Senators opened camp in 1956 coming off of a miserable 53-101 season. There might have been some hope that 1956 would look different, but it was the hope of the “wait ’til next year” variety that all fans feel in the spring when their favorite team is still undefeated.

Calvin Uses Technology

There was some buzz surrounding the team for an innovative use of television during the winter months. January marked the start of the 15-minute “Washington Nationals Show”* that aired every Sunday evening. The first episode showed highlights of Walter Johnson and the 1925 World Series. Later episodes included interviews with current and former players, discussions about the Hall of Fame, and a feature on the show Damn Yankees. The show was such a success that other clubs planned to copy it in their own markets.

*even though the team’s name was formally changed to Senators in 1955

Dressen Second Guesses Reporters

Manager Chuck Dressen, fresh off his first season managing the Nats, made some waves when he invited two of the reporters to manage opposite teams during an intra-squad scrimmage early in the spring. Burton Hawkins of the Washington Evening Star and Bob Addie of The Washington Post were required by Dressen to wear the uniform and coach at 3rd base. Addie’s report included a base running snafu* for which he took the blame. Addie’s team won, with the reporter claiming his best decision was having Ernie Oravetz deliver a pinch single with the bases loaded.

*His exact words: “one of my men singled into a double play!”

Four Eyes

The Sporting News included a blurb about 1956 spring training stating that glasses had become common for ballplayers league wide, but particularly for the Senators, who proudly boasted six bespectacled players. The six were pictured, with glasses and giant grins.

Get Off My Lawn!

White Sox coach and original member of the “Gashouse Gang” member Don Gutteridge mused about today’s players, claiming only five players in the league in 1956 had the “spirit” of the original gang. Among the players he listed was Senators catcher Clint Courtney (specs and all). Also on the list was Billy Martin and Hank Bauer of the Yankees, Enos Slaughter of the Cardinals, and Nellie Fox of Gutteridge’s own White Sox.