Twins History Lesson: July 26 – August 1

Yes, I know… I skipped the Twins History Lesson* post (again) last week. Did you miss it? You did? Really? Dang… now I feel bad. Tell you what, there wasn’t a LOT of cool stuff that happened during the week of July 19-25 but I’ll briefly mention a couple of items, just for you, then I’ll move on to all the noteworthy items (and a few not so noteworthy) for the upcoming week.

Bruno the speed demon?

If I say “pine tar incident”, chances are you’re mind goes to George Brett’s famous “out” on July 24, 1983, that was later reversed. But how many of you remember July 19, 1975, when the Yankees’ Thurman Munson had his first inning RBI single nullified when his bat was found to have pine tar more than the legally allowed 18 inches up the handle?  Nobody? OK, do you maybe remember Tom Brunansky’s inside-the-park Grand Slam Home Run seven years later, on July 19, 1982?

Let’s also catch up with a couple of pitching performances taking place on July 23 in 2005 and 2006. On 7/23/05, the Twins needed a starting pitcher to face off against Justin Verlander in the second game of a doubleheader with the Tigers so the call went to Rochester for an arm to pitch one game and head back to the Red Wings. Enter Scott Baker, who held the Kitties to 2 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings to earn his first W as a Twin… then headed straight back to Rochester. Gardy’s postgame quote: “I think you’re seeing what we hope to get out of this young man. It’s very exciting.”

Exactly a year later, another young starting pitcher, Francisco Liriano, combined with four Twins relievers (Pat Neshek, Dennys Reyes, Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan) to set a new Twins record for most strikeouts in a nine inning game, with 17 combined Ks, in a 3-1 win over the Indians. Liriano recorded an even 10 of those Ks in his 5 innings of work.

Lyman Bostock

July 24 is also worth catching up on. On that date in 1961, The Twins signed Tony Oliva and 15 years later, in 1976, Twins OF Lyman Bostock hit for the cycle during a 17-2 win over the WhiteSox.

That’s enough for last week… let’s move on to this week in Twins History:

Merritt: No pitch count?

On July 26, 1967, Twins pitcher Jim Merritt set a Twins record when he pitched 13 innings in a 3-2 win over the Yankees. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Merritt to earn the W as it took 18 innings for the Twins to earn that win. I’m guessing the Twins didn’t have Merritt on a pitch count limit.

There have been a couple of hitting performances of note on July 27. In 1978, Twins 3B Mike Cubbage hit for the cycle in a 6-3 win over the Blue Jays. He was the 5th Twin to accomplish the feat and the first after Bostock’s cycle two years and  three days earlier.

Five years later, on July 27, 1983, the Brewers Ben Ogilvie hit the longest HR in Metrodome history when he took a Brad Havens pitch 481 feet in to the upper deck in RF.

Dean Chance

Those in attendance at Fenway Park for the Twins/RedSox game on July 28, 1967, saw something very few people ever had an opportunity to see, but few of them probably really appreciated it. The Twins beat the Sox 9-2 as pitcher Dean Chance outdueled Boston ace Jim Lonborg (who was allowed to take leave from his National Guard duty to pitch the game). The rarity? That would be Chance’s bunt for a base hit in the Twins’ 7-run 4th inning. It was Chance’s first base hit following a stretch of 78 straight ABs without a hit (setting an AL record). Chance and Lonborg matched up twice more that season in eventful games. Nine days after this game, Chance retired all 15 hitters he faced in a rain shortened five inning “perfect game” win over Lonborg and the RedSox, making Lonborg 0-12 against the Twins in his career. Unfortunately, he broke that string on October 1, leading the Sox to the AL pennant over the Twins on the last day of the season.  Chance was the Twins’ losing pitcher.

I couldn’t find a darn thing of note that has ever occurred on July 29 in the history of the Twins. That probably won’t change this season as the team has the 29th off this year.

Not much going on for the Twins on July 30, either, for that matter, unless you consider the Twins trading Matt Lawton to the Mets for Rick Reed in 2001 or the trade of Luis Castillo to the same Mets for Drew Butera and Dustin Martin in 2007 to be big deals. Hmmmm… I do sense a pattern here. Should we look forward to Bill Smith completing another trade with the Mets on Friday?

We’ll make up for the lack of activity over July29-30 with a pretty long list of stuff for July 31, much of it trade related as it’s the last day for non-waiver trades:

1965: No trades of note on this date, but Tony Oliva’s heads up baserunning brought home a 2-1 win in 11 innings over the Orioles. (See if this sounds familiar, you fans of the movie Major League.) With one out in the 11th and Oliva on 2B and Harmon Killebrew having been intentionally walked to set up the double play, Joe Nossek hit a roller to Brooks Robinson at 3B. Robinson threw to second to force Killer but the relay to first was too late to complete the double play. That’s when O’s firstbaseman Boog Powell was surprised to realize Oliva never stopped at 3B but had rounded it and headed for home. Powell’s throw was late and Oliva slid home for the Twins win. His quote after the game, “… if I’m out at home, it’s a bad play. Today it was a good play because I made it.”

1972: No trade involved here either, but if you ever get a chance to talk to Bert Blyleven ask him about the day he gave up two inside-the-park HRs to the WhiteSox’ Dick Allen (then duck).

Now let’s get to some of those trades, shall we?

1987: The Twins picked up future HoF pitcher Steve Carleton from the Indians for a player to be named (who turned out to be pitcher Jeff Perry).

Frankie 'Sweet Music" Viola
Rick Aguilera

1989: The Twins became the first team in MLB history to trade a reigning Cy Young Award winner by trading Frank Viola to the Mets for Rick Aguilera, David West, Kevin Tapani, Jack Savage and Tim Drummond.

1995: Tapani was traded to the Dodgers along with Mark Guthrie in return for Jose Parra, Greg Hansell, Chris Latham and future FSN field reporter Ron Coomer.

2004: The Twins sent 1B Doug Mientkiewicz to the Cubs for pitcher Justin Jones.

2006: The Twins sent P Kyle Lohse (and his evil twin, Lyle) to the Reds for P Zach Ward.

2009: The Twins acquired SS Orlando Cabrera and cash from the A’s for minor leaguer Tyler Ladendorf.

Finally, let’s check in on what the first day of August has meant to the Twins:

1985: Pitcher Bert Blyleven returned to the Twins in a trade with Cleveland. The Twins sent outfielder Jim Weaver, pitchers Curt Wardle and Rich Yett, and shortstop Jay Bell to the Indians.

Bert Blyleven

1986: Exactly a year after returning to the Twins, Blyleven threw a 2 hitter against the A’s and struck out 15 hitters (then a club record). In the process, he became the 10th pitcher with 3,000 career Ks. In the same 10-1 win, Kirby Puckett became the first Twin to hit for the cycle in a game at the Metrodome.

1994: Oriole Cal Ripken played in his 2,000th consecutive game in a 1-0 win over the Twins at the ‘Dome.

2007: Perhaps a memory many of us would prefer not be reminded about as the Twins decided to go forward with their game against the Royals in order to keep from sending almost 25,000 fans on to already congested roads following the collapse of the I-35W bridge about an hour before game time. A moment of silence to remember the victims of the bridge collapse was held prior to the game.

With that, let’s all look forward to cheering on the Twins in their series this week at Kansas City and at home, next weekend, against the Mariners! – JC


*We pull this information from a few different sources, including (but not necessarily limited to) Dave Wright’s excellent book, “162-0, The Greatest Wins!”, as well as some  internet sites like “Twins Trivia” and “National Pastime”.

GameChat – Orioles @ Twins, 7:10

I don’t know what happened to our weather but it seems like April and May decided to trade places this year.  But I guess that’s pretty much par for the course here in Minnesota.  If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it will change.

Cool game time temps aside, here’s an update on a couple of the injury situations.  Joe Mauer actually took batting practice today even though he’s not in the lineup tonight, it’s promising that his return is slated for sooner rather than later.  And apparently, all that confusion and ill will involving Pat Neshek’s request to go on the DL was unearned.  According to a recent report at am1500, a new MRI has determined that his hand does have a problem – in the palm not the finger.  Which is why the treatment the team was giving him wasn’t actually helping, just making it less painful.  Unfortunately, it’s very reminiscent of the situation Cuddy had to deal with in his hand which had him on the DL for a LOT longer than 15 days.  Here’s hoping that now that they know what the real problem is, he’ll be back with us soon.  It must be driving him crazy to have a problem like this just when he was back.  Here’s hoping that we do well in his absence!

Baltimore @ Minnesota
Jones, A, CF   Span, CF
Markakis, RF   Hudson, O, 2B
Wieters, C   Morneau, 1B
Tejada, 3B   Thome, DH
Wigginton, 2B   Cuddyer, RF
Atkins, G, DH   Kubel, LF
Hughes, R, 1B   Ramos, W, C
Reimold, N, LF   Casilla, A, SS
Izturis, C, SS   Punto, 3B
  Bergesen, P     Pavano, P


Well that didn’t go the way I would have liked.  Sheesh.  But fantastic outting from Carl Pavano regardless – what a workhorse.  And I will admit that I laughed for 5 minutes after that bunt from Lexi that just rolled down the line.  Marvelous!

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Baltimore 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 1
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0

Joe Nathan might go on the DL!!

Man, a girl can take it pretty hard when her baseball BF has what looks like it might be a season ending injury.  I’m pretty darn loyal in my love of my favorite baseball players but even I have to look at my team and try to picture what this season might look like without Joe Nathan.

photo courtesy of Corey Sauer

For me this is just not a question that stats alone can answer.  Twitchy fills a very special role with this team that can’t be filled by whoever is in the room.  I think for some, it’s easier to look outside our little team family for backup possibilities because they feel like they already know everyone on the team and they would require a lot of investment to get them ready to fill the role.  I’m in the group that sees SO many options available to us internally, that I couldn’t even DREAM of looking outside the players we already have. 

I certainly have the highest hopes that Joe Nathan will be back with us, giving me the shivers, and delivering nasty fastballs and filthy sliders.  I just LOVE me a dirty pitcher!  But every role should have a backup so here’s what I consider my top 3 backup options to be:

1) Sideshow, ie Pat Neshek, has LONG been a favorite of mine.  It started out of pure entertainment value and then I realized how devastating he could be to opposing batters and my love deepened.  Do I think he has the ability?  yes.  Do I think he’s ready to step into that role?  I’m not sure.  I don’t think he’s had the pressure of that kind of attention before and it would would require some adaptation not to mention the job can be exhausting.

2) Shaggy, ie. Matty Guerrier, is DEFINITELY a possibility and one I honestly had never really considered for this kind of role in the past.  He’s done a very good job for this team but somehow he’s always been in the shadow of more spectacular players and has done well in whatever role assigned but never shined.  This could be his opportunity to take the spotlight and I think it’s my job to take another look!

3)  Blacky, ie Nick Blackburn, is probably the most obvious of my choices simply because he’s been making me drool ever since his first late season callup when he got SHELLED but took one for the team and stayed out with more composure than I could have imagined possible for a rookie pitcher.  Now that he’s with the team full time, he’s put together seasons that surprised everyone with how solid he could be – even some applying the term “ACE” far too liberally (IMHO) last year – and has been at the core of a young but dependable starting rotation.

What do you mean he’s not a relief pitcher???  well, duh!  OH WAIT?!  You thought I was talking about who would be the new CLOSER??!?!?!?!  oh good grief, no. 

I meant who is my backup BF if Nathan has to be away from us for awhile!  I’ll leave assigning the closer responsibilities to the team staff.  They most certainly have a lot to choose from and I look forward to the season.  I still hope we get to see Nathan making opposing pitchers look ridiculous but if not, we have great guys out there willing to step up.

My God, isn’t it Friday yet!? Oh… it is? COOL!

To say it has been a long week is putting it mildly, but we didn’t create this blog to give voice to our whining about our personal lives, so I’ll just say I’m REALLY glad this week is wrapping up.

So let’s talk Twins-stuff.

Yeah, I know the guys lost to Boston last night in their Grapefruit League opener and those four measly singles weren’t much to get excited about, but I’m very excited about the performances of Kevin Slowey and Pat Neshek! Slowey’s spoken openly about how his wrist feels “different”, so it was good to see him be very effective in his first two-inning stint of the spring. And, while he hasn’t posted anything yet on his blog, I can’t wait to see what “Sideshow” has to say about his first trip to the mound in almost two years, so I’ll be checking back there later.

It was interesting reading Gardy’s post-game comments, this morning, though. I get the very distinct impression than he considers his bullpen full, at this time, and he’s downplaying any expectations of having Neshek go north when camp breaks. (Although, technically, Rochester is also “north”, right?) All I know is that if Neshek is anywhere close to his old self, it’s going to be very tough to keep him off the roster.

We’ll probably try to do the GameChat thing again here today for the Red Sox’ return visit to Hammond Stadium. Since some of us actually work for a living during the day, I’m not sure how that will work out, but we’ll give it a go.

As much fun as it is to listen to games and chat a bit online as it unfolds, it’s even more fun to actually attend the spring training games! Nick Nelson of Nick’s Twins Blog will be doing just that today and mentions he will be doing some Tweeting in the process. Needless to say, I’m VERY jealous. I just keep reminding myself that my turn is coming. Less than two weeks from “JimCrikket’s Spring Training Vacation”!

I got my copy of the Twins Annual, put out by the TwinsCentric guys and Maple Street Press, in the mail this week. This is the magazine edited by “TwinsGeek” John Bonnes with articles contributed by a virutal “Who’s Who of Twins Blogging”. Nick Nelson, Seth Stohs, Parker Hageman, Howard Sinker, Josh Johnson and a number of other terrific local authors, in addition to the TwinsGeek, himself, contributed some terrific writing. If you haven’t bought your copy yet, what the heck are you waiting for???? Absolutely the best Twins magazine you’ll see all year.

Speaking of reading material, I’m patiently (OK, not so patiently) awaiting the arrival of my copy of Seth’s Minnesota Twins 2010 Prospect Handbook. I see he was expecting to mail them out to those of us who pre-ordered yesterday, so perhaps my wait is about over. I did note that half of Twins Territory apparently have received their copies already and provided reviews, while I’m sitting here waiting for mine. But I’m not impatient. I can wait. And I even promise not to write him any more harassing emails asking where my copy is. After all, I now have a blog where I can express just how PATIENTLY I’M WAITING for my dang Prospect Handbook!!!

By the way, Seth’s got a nice interview with Jesse Crain on his site today.

I guess that’s enough ranting for this morning.  I feel better… even though I realize that just two days in to this whole blogging thing, nobody is listening. It’s still very therapeutic, I’m sure.