1925 World Series Game 3: Instant Replay Edition

March 12, 2014

What if Commissioner Landis had instituted a manager’s challenge system for instant replay prior to the 1925 season? Here is a new account of Sam Rice’s famous catch in Game 3 of the World Series.

Saturday October 10, 1925

Nats Lose in Late Innings, Local Man Called Goat

Stephen Jeffrey Bartmaier wasn’t looking to be famous. All he wanted was a ball to commemorate his trip to Griffith Stadium for Game 3 of the World Series.

When replay cameras caught the 17-year-old removing the ball from the glove of a temporarily incapacitated Sam Rice, everything changed. Bartmaier was caught on camera trying to replace the ball in Rice’s glove, but it was too little too late for the life-long Nats fan who may not be able to show his face in the DC area again.

With two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Pittsburgh catcher Earl Smith hit a drive deep into the right field corner of Griffith Stadium. Right fielder Sam Rice sprinted toward the right field line, leapt, and backhanded the ball in his glove as he tumbled into the stands. Moments later, Rice emerged with ball in hand. Smith was called out. Immediately Pittsburgh manager Bill McKechnie threw the white hanky to get the attention of the umpire.

The game was delayed while the umpire crew looked over the various camera angles. Initial angles were inconclusive, but a hand held camera stationed in the outfield bleachers caught Bartmaier’s act. Before the Fox broadcasters could show the incident a second time, there was already a Wikipedia entry for Bartmaier calling him, among other things, “Washington’s biggest palooka”  and the “goat” of the 1925 World Series.

Further delayed followed as the crew tried to determine whether the ball was foul or not. After about 20 minutes total, the ruling was that Smith had earned a ground rule double and the Nats were forced to retake the field.

The next batter was Carson Bigbee, who pinch hit for pitcher Ray Kremer. Bigbee singled off of a cooled-off Firpo Marberry to plate Smith with the game-tying run. The Pirates went on to win the game in the bottom of the ninth when Pie Traynor’s sacrifice fly knocked in Max Carey.

Though there were plenty of on field heroes in the game, all of the talk afterwards was about McKechnie’s challenge and Bartmaier’s mistake.

 

 

 


1991: “The Twins are gonna win the World Series, the Twins have won it!”

October 21, 2010

2010: Unlike Game 6, I remember exactly where I watched Game 7. Sunday night was church night growing up, and that wouldn’t change for a silly baseball game (believe me, I tried). So, I missed the first few innings, but caught most of the game in the church basement with the rest of the lucky few who gathered for the service that night. I was in transit home when the game went into the ninth inning (it was also a school night, after all), and saw the final play on the television at home.

I originally wrote this at twinscards.com in 2007.

1991 World Series Game 7
Sunday October 27, 1991
HHH Metrodome

Just hours after Kirby Puckett took the team on his back to win Game 6, the Twins were back at the Metrodome preparing for Game 7. St. Paul native Jack Morris was brought in as a free agent for the 1991 season, and would now take the hill for the most important game of the season. Morris already had a reputation as a big game pitcher, mostly for his efforts in 1984 when he went 3-0 in three post season starts with the Detroit Tigers while holding the opposition to just five runs over 25 innings in that post season. Morris was prepared for another run in the post season, and had promised that “If I feel like King Kong, I’ll throw like King Kong” before the 1991 World Series started.

Morris and the Twins knew that it was likely he was going to need to throw like King Kong in Game 7, because runs weren’t going to come easy for the Twins. Taking the mound for the Braves that night was John Smoltz, then just a 24-year-old most famous for coming to Atlanta in the trade that sent Doyle Alexander to the Tigers for what turned out to be an unsuccessful run in the 1987 playoffs (a year when the Tigers were eliminated by the Twins). Of the big three pitchers for Atlanta, Smoltz may have been the less publicized, but he had quietly gotten the job done, including a very strong showing against the Twins in Game 4.

The game started with a handshake between Atlanta lead off man Lonnie Smith and Twins catcher Brian Harper, who had met earlier in the series under very different circumstances in a violent home plate collision. Whether it was a gesture by Smith to bury the hatchet, or more indicative of the battle that the Series had been up to that point is unclear, but it was a unique start to a baseball game.

Smoltz and Morris, as advertised, settled into a pitcher’s duel immediately. Both retired the side in order in the first inning, then worked around some trouble in the early innings. The Twins got a pair of two out singles off of Smoltz in the second inning, but a Pagliarulo ground out ended that threat. The Braves had runners at first and second with just one out in the third inning when Morris retired Pendleton and Gant in order to keep the score 0-0.

The Braves threatened again in the fifth. Series hero Mark Lemke led off the inning with a single, and had advanced to third on two bunts, the first a sacrifice, the second a bunt single by Lonnie Smith. With runners at the corners and one out, Pendleton and Gant had a chance to redeem themselves for the missed opportunity in the third inning. It was not to be, however, as Morris got an innocent pop up out of Pendleton, and caught Gant looking with a third strike that erupted the crowd and caused Morris to pump his fist as he jogged off the field.

The teams entered the eighth inning with the score still tied at zero. In the top of the frame, Smith led off with a single that brought Pendleton to the plate with Smith on first and no outs. Pendleton launched a drive to left center that should have easily scored Smith, but at the end of the play he had only made it to third. Replays showed Smith pull up when he saw short stop Greg Gagne fake a throw to Knoblauch at second. The bluff confused Smith long enough that he was unable to score the go-ahead run.

Still, the Braves had runners at second and third with no outs and the heart of the lineup due to bat against Morris, so a run seemed inevitable. After Morris induced a weak ground out from Ron Gant, the Twins decided to give David Justice and intentional pass to load the bases for Sid Bream. Bream hit a hard grounder to Hrbek at first who was playing in to cut down the run at home. He did that, then took the return throw from Harper to complete the double play and end the inning with no damage done.

In almost a mirror image of the Atlanta half of the eighth, the Twins loaded the bases with one out in their half. With Kent Hrbek ready to bat, the Braves had brought in Mike Stanton to intentionally walk Puckett and try to wiggle out of the inning. A hard line drive off the bat of the slumping Hrbek was hit right to Braves shortstop Rafael Belliard who easily stepped on second to complete the double play.

The Twins looked like they might end the game in the bottom of the ninth with two consecutive singles to start the inning, but Alejandro Pena came on and got a ground ball double play and a strikeout of pinch hitter Paul Sorrento to send the game into extra innings.

Five years earlier, in Tom Kelly’s first World Series as manager, ace pitcher Frank Viola came to the dugout after the eighth inning of Game 7 with a 4-2 lead and wanted to continue. Kelly didn’t let him, explaining that Reardon had been the man in the ninth all season, and sent his closer out to finish the Series. After Game 7 of 1991, the same manager said the only way he could have removed his starter on that day was “with a shotgun,” and told pitching coach Dick Such after the ninth “it’s just a game, let him go” – so Morris took the mound for the tenth inning, and promptly retired the Braves in order.

Dan Gladden led off the Twins’ tenth with a broken bat looper to short left center. On what most likely should have been a single, Gladden made into a double by hustling around first while the Braves fielders played the ball on the high hop from the Metrodome turf. A perfectly executed sacrifice bunt from rookie Chuck Knoblauch sent Gladden to third, and the Braves opted to walk both Puckett and Hrbek to load the bases with Jarvis Brown on deck, who had entered the game to run for Chili Davis in the ninth.

Kelly called Gene Larkin’s name to face Pena with the bases loaded and one out. Larkin had a bad knee, and had only seen three previous at bats in the series. All that was meaningless, however, when Larkin drove the first pitch he saw over the heads of the drawn in outfield to clinch the World Series for the Twins.


1991: “And We’ll See Ya Tomorrow Night!”

October 19, 2010

2010: I reposted this last season after the Twins were swept out of the playoffs by the Yankees in hopes of lifting the spirits of baseball fans in the area. It seems that we can use it again.

A couple of notes:

1. The call by Jack Buck, immortalized in the title of this post, made Joe Posnanski’s list of top 32 calls of all time. It is ranked #27 – one spot higher than the Music City Miracle and one spot lower than Joe Buck’s take on his father’s call 13 years later.

2. I was in eighth grade during the 1991 World Series. I don’t remember where I watched this game, though I know I did. I remember being discouraged in the lead up to the game. All of the national coverage revolved around the Braves. They had all the “momentum,” and were pitching Steve Avery (who couldn’t be touched in the 1991 postseason up to that point) against Scott Erickson, who seemed to be the most unreliable starter for the Twins. A Braves win, according to just about everybody, was inevitable, and I bought into it. That may have been the roots of my disdain for “momentum” as it relates to sports.

I originally wrote this for Twinscards.com in 2007.

1991 World Series Game 6
Saturday October 26, 1991
HHH Metrodome

The 1991 World Series returned to Minneapolis with a completely different feel than it had left five days before. The Twins returned home trailing in the series, three games to two, after the Braves defeated them in Game 5, the only blow out of the series so far. What’s more, Atlanta had Steve Avery on the mound for Game 6, the pitcher that had become something of a phenom in the NLCS. The Twins countered with Scott Erickson, who had been all but untouchable in June of that year, but had run into some post season problems. To many, the Braves seemed like the team of destiny, and Game 6 was when they were likely to achieve that destiny.

Prior to the game, Twins manager Tom Kelly had nothing but praise for Avery.

“You have to give the kid a lot of credit for poise and composure,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t look like he has any fear in his eyes. He’s going to be one of the great ones. We’re going to have to take the ball up the middle against him and scratch for some runs.”

Kelly’s reputation lent some doubt as to whether his praise for the Atlanta pitcher was genuine. There was open speculation in the local papers that it was a ploy to get into the young pitcher’s head.

Master plan or not, the Twins got to Avery early. After Scott Erickson worked around a single and a walk to get out of the first inning unscathed, the Twins offense started with one out in the bottom of the first. After Chuck Knoblauch singled, Kirby Puckett, who had told the rest of the team earlier in the day to “jump on his back,” tripled with a ground ball down the left field line. Puckett later scored when Shane Mack connected with his first base hit of the series two batters later. The Twins held a 2-0 lead over the Avery and the Braves.

Erickson maintained the lead through four innings, not necessarily with dominant pitching. He was helped along the way by some great defensive plays, including Scott Leuis’ jumping grab of a Brian Hunter line drive in the second, and Puckett’s leaping grab of Ron Gant’s drive in the third inning, which robbed Gant of an easy double.

The Braves finally cracked the score board in the fifth, when NL batting champion Terry Pendleton connected with a two-run home run to center field. No sooner had the Braves tied the game than the Twins took the lead again, this time on a sacrifice fly by Puckett in the bottom of the fifth. Erickson retired the Braves in order in the fifth inning, but was ultimately removed from the game after he allowed a lead off single to Mark Lemke, who had been an unlikely October hero for the Braves. Lemke ended up scoring later in the inning to once again tie the game. Erickson’s night was over. Though he wouldn’t get a decision in the game, he had performed well enough for the Kelly, allowing three runs over six plus innings pitched.

Avery, meanwhile, didn’t come out for the seventh inning, and ended his game with three runs on six hits over six innings pitched. The respective bullpens made relatively easy work of the batters over the next several innings, Puckett’s one out single in the eighth and subsequent stolen base notwithstanding. The Braves got a lead off single in the 11th, but it was immediately removed when Keith Mitchell was caught trying to steal second. The score remained tied into the bottom of the 11th.

Five years prior, Charlie Leibrandt was on the hill for Kansas City in a must-win late season game against the first place Minnesota Twins. With a man on and one out in the bottom of the first inning, Kirby Puckett launched a home run to left center that set the tone for an 8-1 Twins win and ultimately a season’s end for the Royals. Now, in an even bigger situation, Bobby Cox called on Leibrandt to extend the game another inning. The first batter he would face: Kirby Puckett.

A 2-1 hanging change up from Leibrandt was the catalyst for arguably the most memorable moment in team history. Puckett launched the ball to left center field where it landed among the 55,155 fans in the Metrodome. As he rounded the bases, fists pumping, Jack Buck made his famous call that set the stage for a memorable Game 7.

Kirby Puckett had been in some way responsible for each of the four Twins runs, and in all likelihood took away an Atlanta run with his catch in the third inning. The Twins went on to win the series in seven, but Kirby Puckett almost single-handedly got them there with his performance in Game 6.


1925: “At no time did I lose possession of the ball”

October 6, 2010

Amidst all the “baseball in October” commercials I keep coming back to this moment that is not a huge part of the modern lore, but probably should be.

Saturday October 10, 1925

After splitting the first two games of the 1925 World Series, the Washington Nationals returned home to host Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Nats were ahead 4-3 heading into the top of the eighth inning, looking to take a 2-games-to-1 lead in the series. With two outs, Pittsburgh catcher Earl Smith hit a drive deep into the right field corner of Griffith Stadium. Right fielder and future Hall of Famer Sam Rice sprinted toward the right field line, leapt, and backhanded the ball in his glove as he tumbled into the stands. Moments later, Rice emerged with ball in hand. Smith was called out, and Washington went on to win the game.

There was some dispute from the Pirates as to whether Rice had actually caught the ball. The working theory for Pittsburgh was that he lost the ball in the crowd, but a helpful Washington rooter placed it back in his glove.

Rice seemed to enjoy the mystery surrounding the play. As the years went on, he never directly addressed the question of whether he caught the ball, often replying in a coy manner that “the umpire said he was out, so he was out.” He even refused to tell his wife and daughter the truth, obviously enjoying the mystery of the whole thing.

Instead of revealing the truth while alive, Rice left a sealed letter with the baseball Hall of Fame, to be opened upon his death. Finally, in October of 1974, the letter was opened, revealing that following:

“… the ball was a line drive headed for the bleachers towards right center, I turned slightly to my right and had the ball in view all the way, going at top speed and about 15 feet from bleachers jumped as high as I could and back handed and the ball hit the center of the pocket in glove (I had a death grip on it). I hit the ground about five feet from a barrier about four feet high in front of bleachers with all my brakes on but couldn’t stop so I tried to jump it to land in the crowd but my feet hit the barrier about a foot from top and I toppled over on my stomach into first row of bleachers, I hit my Adam’s apple on something which sort of knocked me out for a few seconds but McNeeley arrived about that time and grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me out. I remember trotting back towards the infield still carry in the ball for about halfway and then tossed it towards the pitcher’s mound. (How I have wished many times I had kept it.) At no time did I lose possession of the ball.”

Rice’s “revelation” was obviously written in a clever way as to keep the mystery surrounding the event. In fact, a Washington fan claiming to have been sitting in the front row that day claimed that Rice had indeed lost the ball.


“The Twins are gonna win the World Series, the Twins have won it!”

September 1, 2010

I originally wrote this at twinscards.com in 2007.

1991 World Series Game 7
Sunday October 27, 1991
HHH Metrodome

Just hours after Kirby Puckett took the team on his back to win Game 6, the Twins were back at the Metrodome preparing for Game 7. St. Paul native Jack Morris was brought in as a free agent for the 1991 season, and would now take the hill for the most important game of the season. Morris already had a reputation as a big game pitcher, mostly for his efforts in 1984 when he went 3-0 in three post season starts with the Detroit Tigers while holding the opposition to just five runs over 25 innings in that post season. Morris was prepared for another run in the post season, and had promised that “If I feel like King Kong, I’ll throw like King Kong” before the 1991 World Series started.

Morris and the Twins knew that it was likely he was going to need to throw like King Kong in Game 7, because runs weren’t going to come easy for the Twins. Taking the mound for the Braves that night was John Smoltz, then just a 24-year-old most famous for coming to Atlanta in the trade that sent Doyle Alexander to the Tigers for what turned out to be an unsuccessful run in the 1987 playoffs (a year when the Tigers were eliminated by the Twins). Of the big three pitchers for Atlanta, Smoltz may have been the less publicized, but he had quietly gotten the job done, including a very strong showing against the Twins in Game 4.

The game started with a handshake between Atlanta lead off man Lonnie Smith and Twins catcher Brian Harper, who had met earlier in the series under very different circumstances in a violent home plate collision. Whether it was a gesture by Smith to bury the hatchet, or more indicative of the battle that the Series had been up to that point is unclear, but it was a unique start to a baseball game.

Smoltz and Morris, as advertised, settled into a pitcher’s duel immediately. Both retired the side in order in the first inning, then worked around some trouble in the early innings. The Twins got a pair of two out singles off of Smoltz in the second inning, but a Pagliarulo ground out ended that threat. The Braves had runners at first and second with just one out in the third inning when Morris retired Pendleton and Gant in order to keep the score 0-0.

The Braves threatened again in the fifth. Series hero Mark Lemke led off the inning with a single, and had advanced to third on two bunts, the first a sacrifice, the second a bunt single by Lonnie Smith. With runners at the corners and one out, Pendleton and Gant had a chance to redeem themselves for the missed opportunity in the third inning. It was not to be, however, as Morris got an innocent pop up out of Pendleton, and caught Gant looking with a third strike that erupted the crowd and caused Morris to pump his fist as he jogged off the field.

The teams entered the eighth inning with the score still tied at zero. In the top of the frame, Smith led off with a single that brought Pendleton to the plate with Smith on first and no outs. Pendleton launched a drive to left center that should have easily scored Smith, but at the end of the play he had only made it to third. Replays showed Smith pull up when he saw short stop Greg Gagne fake a throw to Knoblauch at second. The bluff confused Smith long enough that he was unable to score the go-ahead run.

Still, the Braves had runners at second and third with no outs and the heart of the lineup due to bat against Morris, so a run seemed inevitable. After Morris induced a weak ground out from Ron Gant, the Twins decided to give David Justice and intentional pass to load the bases for Sid Bream. Bream hit a hard grounder to Hrbek at first who was playing in to cut down the run at home. He did that, then took the return throw from Harper to complete the double play and end the inning with no damage done.

In almost a mirror image of the Atlanta half of the eighth, the Twins loaded the bases with one out in their half. With Kent Hrbek ready to bat, the Braves had brought in Mike Stanton to intentionally walk Puckett and try to wiggle out of the inning. A hard line drive off the bat of the slumping Hrbek was hit right to Braves shortstop Rafael Belliard who easily stepped on second to complete the double play.

The Twins looked like they might end the game in the bottom of the ninth with two consecutive singles to start the inning, but Alejandro Pena came on and got a ground ball double play and a strikeout of pinch hitter Paul Sorrento to send the game into extra innings.

Five years earlier, in Tom Kelly’s first World Series as manager, ace pitcher Frank Viola came to the dugout after the eighth inning of Game 7 with a 4-2 lead and wanted to continue. Kelly didn’t let him, explaining that Reardon had been the man in the ninth all season, and sent his closer out to finish the Series. After Game 7 of 1991, the same manager said the only way he could have removed his starter on that day was “with a shotgun,” and told pitching coach Dick Such after the ninth “it’s just a game, let him go” – so Morris took the mound for the tenth inning, and promptly retired the Braves in order.

Dan Gladden led off the Twins’ tenth with a broken bat looper to short left center. On what most likely should have been a single, Gladden made into a double by hustling around first while the Braves fielders played the ball on the high hop from the Metrodome turf. A perfectly executed sacrifice bunt from rookie Chuck Knoblauch sent Gladden to third, and the Braves opted to walk both Puckett and Hrbek to load the bases with Jarvis Brown on deck, who had entered the game to run for Chili Davis in the ninth.

Kelly called Gene Larkin’s name to face Pena with the bases loaded and one out. Larkin had a bad knee, and had only seen three previous at bats in the series. All that was meaningless, however, when Larkin drove the first pitch he saw over the heads of the drawn in outfield to clinch the World Series for the Twins.


1991: “And We’ll See Ya Tomorrow Night!”

August 31, 2010

I originally wrote this for Twinscards.com in 2007.

1991 World Series Game 6
Saturday October 26, 1991
HHH Metrodome

The 1991 World Series returned to Minneapolis with a completely different feel than it had left five days before. The Twins returned home trailing in the series, three games to two, after the Braves defeated them in Game 5, the only blow out of the series so far. What’s more, Atlanta had Steve Avery on the mound for Game 6, the pitcher that had become something of a phenom in the NLCS. The Twins countered with Scott Erickson, who had been all but untouchable in June of that year, but had run into some post season problems. To many, the Braves seemed like the team of destiny, and Game 6 was when they were likely to achieve that destiny.

Prior to the game, Twins manager Tom Kelly had nothing but praise for Avery.

“You have to give the kid a lot of credit for poise and composure,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t look like he has any fear in his eyes. He’s going to be one of the great ones. We’re going to have to take the ball up the middle against him and scratch for some runs.”

Kelly’s reputation lent some doubt as to whether his praise for the Atlanta pitcher was genuine. There was open speculation in the local papers that it was a ploy to get into the young pitcher’s head.

Master plan or not, the Twins got to Avery early. After Scott Erickson worked around a single and a walk to get out of the first inning unscathed, the Twins offense started with one out in the bottom of the first. After Chuck Knoblauch singled, Kirby Puckett, who had told the rest of the team earlier in the day to “jump on his back,” tripled with a ground ball down the left field line. Puckett later scored when Shane Mack connected with his first base hit of the series two batters later. The Twins held a 2-0 lead over the Avery and the Braves.

Erickson maintained the lead through four innings, not necessarily with dominant pitching. He was helped along the way by some great defensive plays, including Scott Leuis’ jumping grab of a Brian Hunter line drive in the second, and Puckett’s leaping grab of Ron Gant’s drive in the third inning, which robbed Gant of an easy double.

The Braves finally cracked the score board in the fifth, when NL batting champion Terry Pendleton connected with a two-run home run to center field. No sooner had the Braves tied the game than the Twins took the lead again, this time on a sacrifice fly by Puckett in the bottom of the fifth. Erickson retired the Braves in order in the fifth inning, but was ultimately removed from the game after he allowed a lead off single to Mark Lemke, who had been an unlikely October hero for the Braves. Lemke ended up scoring later in the inning to once again tie the game. Erickson’s night was over. Though he wouldn’t get a decision in the game, he had performed well enough for the Kelly, allowing three runs over six plus innings pitched.

Avery, meanwhile, didn’t come out for the seventh inning, and ended his game with three runs on six hits over six innings pitched. The respective bullpens made relatively easy work of the batters over the next several innings, Puckett’s one out single in the eighth and subsequent stolen base notwithstanding. The Braves got a lead off single in the 11th, but it was immediately removed when Keith Mitchell was caught trying to steal second. The score remained tied into the bottom of the 11th.

Five years prior, Charlie Leibrandt was on the hill for Kansas City in a must-win late season game against the first place Minnesota Twins. With a man on and one out in the bottom of the first inning, Kirby Puckett launched a home run to left center that set the tone for an 8-1 Twins win and ultimately a season’s end for the Royals. Now, in an even bigger situation, Bobby Cox called on Leibrandt to extend the game another inning. The first batter he would face: Kirby Puckett.

A 2-1 hanging change up from Leibrandt was the catalyst for arguably the most memorable moment in team history. Puckett launched the ball to left center field where it landed among the 55,155 fans in the Metrodome. As he rounded the bases, fists pumping, Jack Buck made his famous call that set the stage for a memorable Game 7.

Kirby Puckett had been in some way responsible for each of the four Twins runs, and in all likelihood took away an Atlanta run with his catch in the third inning. The Twins went on to win the series in seven, but Kirby Puckett almost single-handedly got them there with his performance in Game 6.


1987: World Series Champions!

July 2, 2010

Sunday October 25, 1987

Twins 4, Cardinals 2

The Twins’ magic carpet took Minnesota to the moon Sunday night.

It was borne by the sound of 55,000 exploding voices in the Metrodome and hundreds of thousands more from border to border in one floor-stomping, chest-pounding declaration:

“We’re No. 1.”

And the moment Gary Gaetti fired to Kent Hrbek in the ninth inning to retire Willie McGee and beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2, The Celebration began.

It cascaded from the playing field where the Twins mobbed themselves in a primeval scream of glory, clutching, laughing and crying, and from the grandstand were the fans erupted in a feast of triumph and vindication. It came rolling out of the upper galleries like the boom of an ocean surf, and it flashed to the world on television in a wild swirl of white bandanas.

The champions of baseball. The World Series. No. 1.

-Jim Klobuchar, Star Tribune, 10/26/87

Minnesota finally had its World Championship; but early on it looked as though the Cardinals might spoil the party. A shaky-looking Frank Viola allowed three consecutive singles to start the second inning; the third of which, a base hit by Tony Pena, scored the game’s first run. With two outs in the inning, catcher Steve Lake hit the fourth single of the frame to score Willie McGee from third and to give the Cards a 2-0 lead.

The Twins were able to answer in the bottom of the second. The inning started when Don Baylor did what he did best, got hit by a pitch. Tom Brunansky singled Baylor to second, and with one out, Tim Laudner lined a single to left. Baylor was waved around third by Ron Gardenhire when the throw came in from Vince Coleman. Though replays later showed he slid under the tag, the ball beat Baylor and the “out” call was made. Fortunately, Steve Lombardozzi’s RBI single to center salvaged a run in the inning, cutting the St. Louis lead in half.

For a few innings, the umpires were the centers of attention. From Vancil’s game story:

Television replays showed that plate umpire Dave Phillips blew a call that took away a Twins run in the second. First-base umpire Lee Weyer missed two calls, one that resulted in a Twins run in the fifth and one that took St. Louis out of the sixth inning.

Despite the blown calls for both sides, there was little arguing. Al Michaels, calling the game for ABC, had his own theory. “It’s ridiculous to have an argument here. You can’t hear a man standing next to you.”

The first of the controversial calls that went against the Cardinals came in the fifth inning. With one out, Greg Gagne hit a chopper that first baseman Jim Lindeman. Lindeman fielded the ball and flipped it to Joe Magrane, who had hurried over to cover first. When Magrane took the throw, he clearly missed the bag with his first step, and took an awkward second step at the base. Though replays showed that he had the bag on the second attempt, the umpire didn’t see it, and Gagne was safe at first.

The play marked the end of Magrane’s night on the mound, and Danny Cox came in to try and get out of the inning with no damage. The first man he faced, however, Kirby Puckett, doubled to the gap in right-center, scoring Gagne all the way from first. Cox got out of trouble however, thanks mostly to the Twins base running. Puckett was caught stealing third for the second out, and the third out was made at home plate when Gaetti tried to score from second on a Baylor single to left, the second out Coleman’s arm had made at home.

Cox’s trouble continued in the sixth. After walking Brunansky and Hrbek, Cox was able to get Laudner to pop out. That brought Todd Worrell into the game, normally the Cardinal’s closer. Worrell walked pinch-hitter Roy Smalley to load the bases with one out. After a Dan Gladden strikeout, Gagne hit his second infield single of the game, this time to third, to score the go-ahead run. Worrell ended the inning by striking out Puckett. Though the Cards were down, they had wriggled out of two potentially big innings in a row, and only trailed by one.

While St. Louis pitchers struggled, Frank Viola was on cruise control. After allowing those two runs in the second, he retired 11 in a row before Tom Herr singled in the sixth. Herr was eventually picked off, and Viola allowed only one more hit, taking his team to the eighth inning.

The Twins added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth in the form of a Dan Gladden RBI double. With a 4-2 lead, Tom Kelly had a decision to make, though Kelly didn’t make it a particularly tough one.

“I told Frankie I was very proud of him,” Twins manager Tom Kelly said. “He did an outstanding job. He knows, like we all know, Jeff Reardon gets the ball in the ninth. That’s the way we’ve done it all year, and that’s the way we were going to do it tonight.

“We weren’t going to go away from our plan. When the ninth inning comes around, Reardon comes in. Frankie understands that’s the way we do it. I told him again, I was very very proud of him, but here comes Reardon.”

Reardon retired the Cardinals in order in the top of the ninth, the last out coming on a Willie McGee grounder, Gaetti to Hrbek.

twins87.jpg

The Minnesota Twins are baseball’s champions.


1991 World Series Game 7: Atlanta Braves (3-3) @ Minnesota Twins (3-3)

May 1, 2009

Sunday October 27, 1991

Dennis Brackin previewed the evening’s pitching matchup for Game 7 of the World Series:

Jack Morris is 36 years old, has won 216 regular-season games and generally is considered one of the most intense competitors in baseball.

John Smoltz is 24, has gone a modest 42-42 for his career and has been aided since midseason by a sports psychologist.

Their techniques might differ, but their objectives will be identical tonight. The righthanders, once spring training teammates with the Detroit Tigers, will oppose one another tonight in Game 7.

Both have been superb in the postseason.

Morris is 3-0 with a 3.08 ERA in 26 1/3 innings, winning two games against Toronto in the American League Championship Series and Game 1 of the Series. He was ahead 2-1 in the seventh inning of Game 4 before being removed for a pinch hitter.

Smoltz is 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA in three postseason starts. He pitched a complete game to defeat Pittsburgh 4-0 in Game 7 of the NLCS and had a no-decision in Game 4 of the Series.

When Game 6 was over, Morris fielded some less-than brilliant questions: Have you ever pitched in the seventh game of the World Series before? Morris’ only previous Series appearance was in 1984, when his Detroit Tigers blew away San Diego in five games.

Will your experience help? “I don’t know,” he said. “I just want to pitch.”

Did you ever dream of pitching the last game of the Series? “When I was a kid, my brother (Tom) used to play Wiffle ball. I pretended I was Bob Gibson. He was Mickey Mantle. That’s the only thing I can think of.”

The Twins have been saying all along they just wanted to get to Game 7 and to turn it over to Big Jack, right?

“I’m not God,” he said. “I’ve made mistakes in the past. I’ll make them in the future. I’m going to give it the best shot I have.”

Smoltz followed Morris by saying he had been thinking about pitching in this kind of game for a long time. “This is a situation I’ve played out a lot in my mind when I was younger,” he said.

“I’ll be like a little kid out out there. Naturally, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to do this and we’d win it. But I look on it as a challenge.”

It is fairly well-established by now that Braves catcher Greg Olson is from Edina. It is not as well-established that Smoltz still has relatives in Chisholm, Minn.

“Yes, I do, mainly from my dad’s side of the family,” he said. “About four or five of them were visiting me today in my hotel room. It should make for an interesting thing for them tomorrow. I know they’ll be caught in the middle, but hopefully, they’ll be rooting for me.”

Smoltz was asked whether he ever thought, growing up that he might be pitching against Jack Morris in Game 7 of the World Series. “I didn’t think there was any way possible, because we were both with the Tigers and I thought I would stay with them. I learned one thing: you have to put personal goals and personal challenges aside in situations like this and just pitch your normal game.”

The pitchers were the focus prior to the game, and they both proved up to the challenge. Smoltz and Morris exchanged zeroes the first seven innings. Smoltz eventually gave way to the Atlanta bullpen, but not so for Morris. From Patrick Reusse’s column:

How was it possible Morris could have a lot left? “Early on, I had a good fastball and a slider,” Morris said. “My forkball came back around the sixth. It was very effective for me in the late innings.”

There was something else that was very effective for Black Jack last night: the fire that burns down below – the fire to win that burns in his belly.

Kelly said: “What more can you want? What more can you ask for? The guy poured his guts out. I told him nine was enough.”

Morris said it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough because the Twins had not yet scored, which means they had not yet won this World Series.

“Jack said he was fine,” Kelly said. “(Pitching coach) Dick Such said he was fine. What the heck? It’s just a game.”

Neither team scored until the bottom of the tenth inning. What the Pucketts, Hrbeks, Justices and Gants failed to do for nine plus innings was finally accomplished by Gene Larkin. Dennis Brackin’s description:

He was largely a forgotten figure in the summer of 1991, best remembered perhaps as the designated hitter before Chili Davis arrived on the scene. On Sunday night, Gene Larkin emerged from the shadows of this season, driving in the only run of Game 7 with a 10th-inning single. Whatever emotional pains Larkin had endured riding the bench during the World Series were erased as he rounded first base, watching Dan Gladden come home with the winning run.

As his one-out, bases-loaded fly ball landed beyond the drawn-in Atlanta outfield, Larkin leaped ecstatically into the air. “I knew as soon as I made contact it was hit far enough to go over (left fielder Brian) Hunter’s head,” Larkin said. “I said, `We’re champions. We’re champions.’ It was an unbelievable feeling.” As the Twins celebrated on the field, doffing their hats to admiring fans and embracing one another, Kathleen Larkin stood amid a group of Twins players’ wives. Tears welled in her eyes as she watched her husband savor his brightest moment as a major leaguer. “It was indescribable,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I grabbed Micki Gagne and couldn’t let go. I’m just so glad Gene got to play a part. And what a part he played.”

What a part, indeed. Larkin, who had batted only three times in the six previous games, was summoned to pinch hit for Jarvis Brown with the bases loaded in the 10th. Gladden had begun the inning with a double, stretching for an extra base with characteristic hustle. Chuck Knoblauch sacrificed Gladden to third. At that point, Braves manager Bobby Cox ordered reliever Alejandro Pena to issue intentional walks to Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek.

“Herbie turned to me and said, `Just finish it,’ as he walked away,” Larkin said. “I just told myself to relax, and wait for a strike, and that’s what I did. I’ve watched (Pena) the whole Series. The fastball is basically all he throws. He might mix in a breaking ball now and then. I was just looking for a pitch that was up, and in the strike zone.” Larkin didn’t have to wait long for the fastball he was looking for.

He jumped on Pena’s first offering, driving the ball to left-center, easily deep enough to remove the doubt that had lingered over the game for 9 1/2 innings. Larkin was an improbable hero, but that was perhaps fitting for an improbable team that went from last in the American League West in 1990 to the World Series championship.

Howard Sinker summed up the series, and the season nicely:

Maybe you heard the words after the game. It won’t hurt to hear them again.

“It was probably the greatest World Series ever,” said Fay Vincent, the commissioner of baseball. “I was proud to be here.”

What a game! What a Series! What an ending!

It took 10 innings and words won’t describe it as well as rewinding the videotape and watching it over and over and over and over. . . .

Sometimes words can’t compete.

Watch the tape. See Gene Larkin’s fly ball sail deep into left center for a single. See Dan Gladden cross home plate, stomping and being surrounded by a cheering pinstripe mob.

See the Twins win 1-0.

Grab some bench, America. Watch Minnesota party.

“It’s some kind of feeling, isn’t it?” rookie Chuck Knoblauch yelled at the crowd a few minutes after the game, when the Domeboys commandeered the stadium’s public address system.

“This is the craziest place I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Mike Pagliarulo, who used to play for the Yankees. So he knows crazy.

“I love all these guys and I love all of you,” shouted Jack Morris, who pitched all 10 innings, alpha to omega, telling the manager he wasn’t coming out after nine.

“Words can’t describe the respect I have for that man,” said Atlanta outfielder David Justice.

The World Series’ most valuable player award, which was won by Morris, does justice to Justice could not describe.

Many of the 55,118 fans remained in their seats a half-hour after the game, listening to the best team in the world scream back at them.

At home plate, Kirby Puckett looked into the stands, where his brother Spencer was sitting. He launched a joyful fist in Spencer Puckett’s direction that, had it connected, would have knocked out Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and George Foreman. All at once.

Ali and Frazier, too. Remember, this was a classic.

Remember it always. The Braves were good. Darn good.

Too bad there had to be a loser, huh?

Just kidding.

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1991 World Series Game 6: Atlanta Braves (3-2) @ Minnesota Twins (2-3)

April 29, 2009

Saturday October 26, 1991

While most were skeptical of the Twins’ chances to repeat the Dome sweep that occurred in 1987, Sid Hartman could always be counted on to find reasons to root for the home team:

Twins general manager Andy MacPhail says he likes his team’s chances more now than he did in 1987 because the Twins have Scott Erickson pitching tonight; Les Straker was the starter in the sixth game of the 1987 World Series.

“We had Straker going against John Tudor in 1987, and Tudor had shut us down in St. Louis,” MacPhail said. “Straker certainly had been up and down (he was 3-4 with a 4.53 ERA the last two months of the season).

“This time we have Scott Erickson going against Steve Avery. Even though Scott hasn’t pitched that well recently, we shouldn’t write him off. He has been a 20-game winner and certainly has been a much better pitcher than Straker ever was. As recently as Sept. 24, he was throwing the ball well into the 90s and pitched a good game. I’m not ready to give up the ship. We are going to be fine.”

Straker, after an ordinary 1987 season, pitched 11 2/3 innings in the postseason. He gave up nine runs and 12 hits and wound up with a 6.94 ERA.

Erickson’s ERA hasn’t been much better the last month, but he proved he has the ability to pitch in the major leagues when he won 12 straight games. A headline on a recent story about Erickson in the Boston Globe read, “The New Rocket or Just a Dud?” That probably best describes Erickson.

Junior Ortiz, who has caught Erickson in every game this season, described Erickson’s Game 3 outing against the Braves, when he lasted only four innings, as the worst he has pitched all year.

“His ball wasn’t moving and he didn’t throw very hard,” said Ortiz. “He can pitch a lot better.”

One positive is that Erickson has performed well in the past. Some of us in the media thought manager Tom Kelly might start Jack Morris with two days’ rest today after he had pitched only six innings Wednesday.

There’s no doubt that Kelly isn’t going to stay with Erickson for long if he doesn’t have his stuff.

As it turned out, Erickson did his job, lasting into the seventh inning. From Jeff Lenihan’s game story:

Regardless of what happens in Game 7, the 88th World Series is certain to be remembered as one of the most dramatic and competitive in history. Last night’s game was the fourth in the Series to be decided by one run, the first time that has happened since 1975.

The Twins’ seventh straight Series victory at the Metrodome featured an explosive game from Puckett, who had had a rather disappointing Series. A crowd of 55,155 also was treated to the return of Shane Mack’s bat, a four-hit game by Terry Pendleton that included a home run and the continuing heroics of Mark Lemke, who has more hits in the Series (nine) than he had in any of the season’s first three months. The crowd also saw the Twins bullpen throw five scoreless innings and redeem itself for Thursday night’s four-inning, 10-run nightmare.

The second Series matchup of young guns Scott Erickson, 23, and Steve Avery, 21, proved interesting, especially since no one expected Erickson to see the fifth inning. Erickson reached the seventh, though both starters were gone long before the game was decided. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox turned over the game to his closer, Pena, in the ninth while Kelly gave Aguilera the ball to start the 10th.

The Braves were able to forge ties at 2-2 and 3-3 because of their ability to stay out of the double play. But they blew two chances to take the lead in extra innings.

In the 10th, Pendleton hit the first pitch from Aguilera up the middle for a single and took off for second on the first pitch to Ron Gant. But Gant lined a pitch right at shortstop Greg Gagne, who tagged Pendleton to complete the double play. In the 11th, Sid Bream hit a one-bouncer off the right field fence. But Bream’s bad knee and Mack’s strong arm held Bream to a single. This proved critical when pinch runner Keith Mitchell took off for second on the first pitch to Brian Hunter. Twins catcher Brian Harper, who was criticized for throwing out only 18 percent of the runners who tried to steal against him during the season, gunned down Mitchell, and the next two hitters popped out to end the inning.

The Braves tied the game in the seventh because, for the second time in three innings, they were able to stay out of what looked like a double play.

Lemke’s leadoff single ended Erickson’s night. Mark Guthrie struck out pinch hitter Jeff Blauser on three pitches but threw a wild pitch and walked Lonnie Smith. Both runners advanced when Pendleton, whose homer in the fifth had tied the game at 2-2, hit a pool-cue shot to the right side of the infield that left second baseman Chuck Knoblauch without a play.

With the bases loaded and one out, Kelly summoned Carl Willis, who was trying to rebound from a rare bad outing in Game 5 (one inning, three runs). The righthander got Gant to hit a grounder to short. Gagne’s flip to Knoblauch retired Pendleton at second, but Gant crossed the bag just ahead of the relay throw as Lemke scored the tying run.

The Twins broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth in a manner that would have made their National League counterparts proud. Dan Gladden milked Avery for a 10-pitch walk. On the first pitch to Knoblauch, Gladden stole second. He took third on Knobluach’s fly to deep right and scored when Puckett, hitting .167 in the first five games, drove Gant back to the warning track with a fly.

The Braves tied the game 2-2 in the fifth. The most obvious contribution was a two-run homer by Pendleton; a more subtle contribution was a slide by Rafael Belliard that wiped out what looked like a sure double play.

With none out and Belliard on first, Smith hit a hard grounder right at third baseman Scott Leius, who threw to second to start what looked like a 5-4-3 double play. Knoblauch had trouble handling the ball and chose not to make an off-balance throw to first. The play proved crucial when Pendleton hit an 0-1 pitch 418 feet over the wall just to the right of center. The game was tied.

The fact Erickson returned for the sixth was somewhat surprising. Erickson, who did not finish five innings in two previous playoff starts, threw 26 pitches in the first inning and at least 13 in each of the next four.

Trying to protect the 2-0 lead, Erickson survived two scares in the third. Smith was hit by a pitch leading off the inning. Pendleton hit a fly deep down the left field line that Gladden could not catch it. But the ball landed inches foul. Pendleton forced Smith at second with a grounder to Kent Hrbek.

Gant hit a fly ball deep to left-center. Puckett gave chase, but the only question seemed to be whether the ball would would clear the plexiglass or bounce off it. Puckett managed to get to the wall before the ball, an accomplishment in itself. The four-time Gold Glove winner timed his leap perfectly and managed to come up with the ball with the back of his glove against the fence. “I didn’t think he could get to it, it was hit so far,” Mack said.

Said Puckett: “I just told myself to get back, just get back into a position to catch the ball. That’s about as high as I can jump.” Erickson got out of the inning by getting David Justice to bounce harmlessly to first.

The third inning catch, of course, was not Puckett’s only heroics in Game 6. From Howard Sinker’s story:

There will be one more baseball game in 1991. For that, you can thank Kirby Puckett.

Was there ever any doubt?

Was there?

Can’t hear you, Minnesota.

Not because you weren’t loud. It’s because our eardrums have been burned into toast.

For that, you can thank Kirby Puckett.

Puckett slammed a home run in the 11th inning Saturday night to give the Twins a 4-3 victory over Atlanta in Game 6, setting off a raucous 10-minute ovation that didn’t quiet until a postgame interview was shown on the Metrodome scoreboard.

In front of 55,155 folks who paid to get in, including about 1,500 who were rooting for the visitors, the Twins made sure the 88th World Series would play through one more full weekend. For that, you can thank . . .

Oh, heck, never mind.

Today is it. Mad Jack Morris for the hometown nine, John Smoltz for the visitors. Biggest game of all.

Morris saw Puckett’s ball sail beyond the wall in left and knew that his turn on center stage was next. Is he ready? “Words from the late, great Marvin Gaye come to mind,” Morris said. ” `Let’s get it on.’ “

…and, in the words of Jack Buck, “we’ll see ya tomorrow night!”

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1991 World Series Game 5: Minnesota Twins (2-2) @ Atlanta Braves (2-2)

April 27, 2009

Thursday October 24, 1991

If a fan was looking for a break from the drama of the 1991 World Series, he got it in Game 5. While each of the first four games were close, including the last two decided by the last at-bat, Game 5 was a blowout. Braves hitters got to Tapani early and kept the heat on against the Twins’ bullpen to close the Atlanta portion of the series with a 3-2 series lead. From Jeff Lenihan’s game story:

One of the most competitive World Series in history took an unexpected U-turn as the Braves pounded 17 hits – seven for extra bases – in eight innings, sending 50,878 of their most ardent tomahawk-choppers into a state of delirium and the Twins into a state of shock. The 14 runs were the most scored in a Series game in 31 years and the most ever scored by an NL team. Neither the Twins nor the Braves had scored more than five runs in the first four games.

The Braves swept the three games at Fulton County Stadium, which explains why some of their faithful turned in their tomahawks for brooms. The Twins are 0-9 in World Series games on the road.

The Braves hammered Tapani (1-1) for four runs in the fourth inning. After the deficit grew to 5-0, the Twins took advantage of some uncharacteristic wildness from Braves starter Tom Glavine (1-1) to chop away at the Atlanta lead in the sixth, pulling within 5-3 and twice sending the go-ahead run to the plate. But the Twins’ overworked bullpen gave up 10 earned runs in four innings, with David West (four batters faced, four runs allowed) setting the less-than-melodic tone.

Heroes for the Braves were plentiful. David Justice hit a two-run homer to start the scoring in the fourth and finished with five RBI. Mark Lemke, who drove in the winning run in Game 3 and scored the winning run in Game 4, tied a World Series record with two triples, giving him three in a span of four at-bats. And Lonnie Smith, trying to win a World Series with a fourth different team, hit another homer. He became the first player to homer in three consecutive World Series games since Reggie Jackson did so for the Yankees in Games 4, 5 and 6 of the 1977 Series.

What kind of a night was it for the Twins? Manager Tom Kelly, who resorted to starting Chili Davis in right field, pinch hit Jarvis Brown for Kirby Puckett in the eighth. And Al Newman, who had not hit a triple since 1989, hit one in the eighth. It scored a run that made the score 11-4, but Carl Willis gave three runs back in the bottom of the inning.

“We just flat out got our butts kicked,” Newman said. “But in a sense that’s not so bad. I’d prefer that to having to walk off the field when they score the final run, when you’re just inches away from victory.”

Said Chuck Knoblauch, the Twins’ best player in the series with a .523 on-base percentage: “After all those games, someone was going to break loose sooner or later with a lot of runs. It’s just one of those things. But it’s a lot easier to digest than those 3-2 or 2-1 games when you have the umpires involved and everything. These things happened to us in the regular season and there was always a feeling of `Whew,’ a sense of relief. I don’t know if it takes the pressure off or not, but we’ve come back from these games and played well. And there’s guys in this clubhouse that have come back from a deficit just like this in the World Series.”

That, of course, was in ’87, and several Twins said that experience should prove beneficial. So will the day off. “We need a day off,” Kelly said. “Especially pitching-wise.”

Noel Holston described how the CBS crew worked the first blowout of the series:

How big a yawner did Game 5 of the World Series eventually become?

This big: While the Twins batted in the eighth, CBS play-by-play man Jack Buck, analyst Tim McCarver and guest commentator Tommy Lasorda got into an intense discussion of the merits of the designated hitter – and the CBS camera was focused on them. And who could really blame them for losing interest? Tom Kelly had already taken Kirby Puckett out. He might as well have raised a white Homer Hanky on a stick.

For Twins fans, there was not much to smile about in the telecast.

For many Twins fans, panic began to set in. From Howard Sinker’s article in the Star Tribune:

You lost big. So big that your manager cleared the bench near the end, sending Jarvis Brown to bat for Kirby Puckett and Paul Sorrento for Kent Hrbek. By then, you were down by eight, and it was clear to all that you were done for the night.

You had this World Series under control once. That was a few days ago, after winning two games at the Metrodome. Forgive your fans if last weekend feels like it happened last year.

Your fans are wondering, Atlanta’s are celebrating. Up three games to two, they have that right.

In the eighth inning, when Mark Lemke came to bat, a chant carried into the mild, moonlit night: “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” Lemke hit two more triples last night, raising his World Series average to .438, after a regular season of hitting only .234. In his four games against Minnesota – he stayed on the bench for the opener – Lemke has four extra-base hits. In 136 games against the National League teams this season, he had only 15.

“M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” When the Twins were sort of close, at 5-3 in the seventh, Lonnie Smith led off with a home run for the Braves that started a surge of nine runs in their final two at-bats.

Smith homered in three straight games. The last guy to do that during a World Series was Reggie Jackson in 1977. Remember, Smith hit only seven homers all season.

Yo, Domeboys! You turned Lonnie Smith into Reggie Jackson; Mark Lemke into Kirby Puckett.

…and Sinker took some historical perspective:

One more set of numbers, anyone? Minnesota’s World Series road report has been stunning – nine games, nine losses. Stunning like a fastball in the ribs. Go back into franchise history, when the Twins were the Washington Senators, and the franchise road loss streak is 14.

The Senators won at Pittsburgh in Game 1 in 1925. Walter Johnson was the winning pitcher. You beginners, go look up Johnson in a baseball encyclopedia.

It would be nice for the Twins if he could pitch Game 6 in 1991.

Patrick Reusse was even more pessimistic:

Four years ago, when the Twins returned home after losing three in a row in St. Louis, there were excellent reasons to be confident. It was written that way: The fans should not be depressed – that the Twins had done everything that season by crushing the opposition at the Metrodome and that they would do it again.

The Twins scored 11 runs against the hopeless John Tudor and his relievers in Game 6. Then they cruised behind a marvelous Frank Viola in Game 7. A little, two-game Dome winning streak and Minnesota had a World Series champion for the first time.

It is difficult to express the same level of confidence in this group of Twins after they staggered home from Atlanta early this morning – nudged in Games 3 and 4, crushed in Game 5.

The feeble Tudor and a novice named Joe Magrane were coming to town to face the Twins four years ago. Steve Avery and John Smoltz – the guys who gave Atlanta back-to-back shutouts in Pittsburgh last week – will be coming to town to face these Twins.

Four years ago, Metrodome magic was more than a cliche. When an opposing pitcher took the mound in there, his earned-run average and his life-insurance rates would soar.

The Twins had more than Viola and powerful hitting going for them. It was the first time around for most of their fans, and the Twins were feeding off the frenzy of an emotional bandwagon that carried the entire state.

This time, the Braves are the long shots, the first-timers, the team feasting on a city’s frenzy. The citizens have worked the Cherokees of North Carolina to a frazzle, producing foam-rubber tomahawks to be waved in the stadium, in bars and in TV dens.

Game 6 will feature Scott Erickson and Steve Avery as the starting pitchers.

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