91/19 World Series Game 4: Late Inning Heroics Lift the 91' Team to Victory
The starting pitching matchup was veteran vs veteran as Kelly sent out Kevin Tapani while Baldelli countered with the aforementioned Gibson. On the outset, it seemed like Tapani would have had the upper hand in this game as he both finished 7th in Cy Young voting and pitched a gem in Game 1, but Gibson ended up out-pitching the righthander in this battle.
The game started quite slowly as neither team could scratch across a run for the first three innings of the game. The 19’ Twins were able to slap a few singles in these innings but no one was able to come around and score as Tapani worked around some minor trouble. Gibson allowed just a single walk in his first three innings as he made quick work of the 91’ Twins to begin the game.
The 4th inning is where things got interesting. Kent Hrbek worked a leadoff walk against Gibson but was erased when Kirby Puckett worm-burned his way into a double play. A one pitch groundout to Shane Mack ended the threat just about as quickly as it began. In the bottom half of the inning, Mitch Garver mirrored Hrbek and worked his own leadoff walk. The next batter, Max Kepler, did not hit into a double play, however. A 1-2 breaking ball caught too much of the plate and Kepler hit it out to give the 19’ Twins a 2-0 lead.
“It was a hanger alright”, said Kepler after the game. “My first at-bat was kind of awful so I was glad that I could do something better afterwards. I hate pitchers more than I hate spiders, so showing one up always feels good.” said the apparent spider-hating Kepler.
Tension started to brew between the teams as Miguel Sanó was hit by a pitch in his at-bat following Kepler’s homer. Sanó barked a bit at Tapani while 91’ Twins’ catcher Brian Harper told him to keep walking to 1st base. Tapani tried to play it cool which was tough to do for a pitcher who just gave up a massive homer. Ultimately, the inning ended and all passive-aggressive animosity between the two teams remained under wraps.
After putting up runs in support, the pressure was now on Gibson to carry his squad the rest of the way and he did not disappoint. Gibson mowed down hitters like it was the last game he would ever pitch. The innings flew by before it was suddenly the top of the 6th and the 91’ Twins were still hitless. Hrbek finally lined a two out single into the outfield to break it up but Gibson got the third out and the inning remained quiet.
Kelly had seen enough of his own starter, Tapani, and yanked him in the bottom half of the inning despite only throwing 64 pitches. Such a move continued to prove that old-school starters never go as deep into games as pitchers nowadays.
Gibson remained cruising into the 7th inning but his own error proved to be the last straw for Baldelli. In such a close game, the manager took no chances and pulled his starter with one out in the inning. The short-term effects proved to be in Baldelli’s favor as Trevor May came in and immediately induced a double play to end the inning.
Each team traded goose eggs until the top of the 9th when Taylor Rogers stepped on the mound with a chance to preserve a 2-0 win and tie the series. Rogers battled his stuff in the inning as his pitches caught more of the plate than he would have liked. Chuck Knoblauch and Shane Mack were both able to get singles against the lefty while Rogers was able to induce a pair of flyouts. Both runners moved into scoring position after a wild pitch and then Chili Davis broke hearts with a two out single that scored both runners and knotted the game at two.
“I was terrible, plain and simple” said Rogers after the game. “I couldn’t throw strikes and the ones I were throwing were so bad that even Nick Punto could have got a hit off me.” Rogers said something else snarky but was overshadowed when Kepler started shrieking when he saw a spider.
An unexpectedly tied game now made this a battle of the bullpens between the two squads. Each team kept trotting out reliever after reliever in the hopes that they could buy their offense some time to win the game. This game plan worked for both sides until it was Tyler Duffey’s turn to pitch. In the top of the 11th, Duffey gave up a solo homer to Kent Hrbek who continued to absolutely terrorize Baldelli’s crew this series.
The lead was now in favor of Kelly’s team, but all was not smooth sailing as he had already burned through Carl Willis, Steve Bedrosian, and Rick Aguilera in his efforts to keep the game tied. The cunning Kelly kept the righty Terry Leach in to start the inning. Leach got the lefty Kepler to ground out but Sanó was able to crack a single to give his team some hope. Kelly made a move and brought in the lefty Mark Guthrie to get Eddie Rosario to fly out and Guthrie went one step further as he struck out the righty C.J. Cron to end the game.
The game seemed ripe for the 19’ Twins to win and tie the series but the 91’ Twins had more rebellion in them than previously thought. Instead of an even series, the 19’ Twins are now looking at a potential series loss in game 5 if they are unable to have an answer for the big man, Kent Hrbek. Ultimately, it wasn’t the decision making that lost the game for Baldelli’s team and sometimes, that’s just how baseball goes.
You can find the boxscore and pitch-by-pitch results for Game One attached below. If you would like to learn more about Out of the Park 21, please click on this link. If you would like to try it, you can also download it for 10% off the regular price using the code TWINSDAILY. You may also want to read the recaps for:
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