The Twins Almanac for May 15-19
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Happy Birthday, Justin Morneau
It’s the birthday of 2006 American League MVP, Justin Morneau, born on this day in 1981 in New Westminster, British Columbia. The Twins drafted the 6’4” Canadian in the 3rd round in 1999, behind B.J. Garbe and Rob Bowen, neither of whom made it to the Majors. Morneau hit cleanup in his Major League debut in June, 2010, hitting a two-strike line drive single to center in his first at-bat and going 2-for-4 on the day. He hit 19 home runs in just 74 Major League games in 2004, and another 22 with Rochester. In 2006, just his second full season in the Majors, Morneau hit .321 with 34 HRs and 130 RBI en route to being voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Morneau was hitting .345 midway through 2010 when he suffered a season-ending concussion sliding into second. Though Twins fans saw glimpses over the next three seasons, Morneau never fully returned to all-star form before being traded in August 2013 to Pittsburgh, in the heat of a pennant race.
Prior to the 2014 season, Morneau signed with the Colorado Rockies, where he won the National League batting championship with a .319 average. Former Twins teammate, Michael Cuddyer, had won the NL batting crown with the Rockies the previous season, hitting .331. Morneau, currently a free agent, will be out until at least midseason 2016 as he recovers from elbow surgery.
May 15, 1969
Cesar Tovar Breaks Up No-Hitter
With one out in the bottom of the ninth and Baltimore’s Dave McNally pitching a no-hitter, Cesar Tovar singled to left-center. Rod Carew then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play as McNally completed the one-hit shutout for a 5-0 Orioles win. This was the first of two times that Tovar would break up a no-hitter in the ninth inning in 1969. Tovar is tied with Eddie Milner for the Major League record of breaking up five no-hitters in his career. Tovar broke up four no-hitters as a Twin, and another as a Ranger when he broke up Catfish Hunter’s no-hit bid in 1975.
May 15, 1991
Paul Molitor Hits for the Cycle vs. the Twins
Paul Molitor led off the game at the Metrodome with a triple on Kevin Tapani’s first pitch. He promptly put the Brewers up 1-0 on a Jim Gantner groundout. Molitor singled in the third, doubled in the fifth, and, leading off the seventh, homered off of Tapani to complete the cycle. Reliever Steve Bedrosian finally retired Molitor in the ninth. He went 4-for-5 in the Brewers’ 4-2 win. The Twins went on to have a good season.
It’s the Birthday of Billy Martin
Twins player, coach and manager, Billy Martin, was born on this date in 1928 in Berkeley, California. Martin, who won four World Championships as a member of the 1950s New York Yankees, was traded by the Milwaukee Braves to Minnesota on June 1st, 1961, where he played out his final Major League season. Martin served as a Twins scout from 1962-’64, and rejoined the Major League team as third base coach in 1965. He was sent down to Triple A Denver midway through the 1968 season, where he served as manager. He succeeded Cal Ermer as manager of the Twins in 1969, winning the American League West in his only season as manager. Martin was hugely popular as a Twins coach and manager, and instrumental in the development of Cesar Tovar, and, to a less extent, Rod Carew. Martin went on to manage 16 Major League seasons, including five stints with the Yankees, who he led to a World Series championship in 1977. Martin passed away in 1989 at the age of 61.
Happy Birthday, Jack Morris
It’s the birthday of Jack Morris, born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1951. Morris attended Highland Park High School in St. Paul and Brigham Young University, and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 5th round in 1976. The Tigers had drafted Alan Trammell in the 2nd round, and Lou Whitaker in the 5th round a year earlier. All three would make their Major League debuts in 1977, with Trammell and Whitaker debuting in the same game. Morris was the Tigers’ opening day starter in 1980, beginning a Major League record streak of 14 consecutive opening day starts (1980-1993). Morris won his first of four World Series in 1984 as the Tigers beat the Padres in 5 games. Morris pitched complete game victories in games one and four. Morris won more games in the 1980s (162) than any other pitcher.
On February 5th, 1991, Jack Morris signed a one-year, $3.7 million contract with the Twins, making him the highest paid pitcher in the American League, a distinction which he previously held and 1987 and ‘88, and would hold again in 1993. Morris won 18 games during the regular season and another four in the postseason, including the legendary 10-inning shutout of the Atlanta Braves in game 7 of the World Series. 1991 would be Morris’s only season with the Minnesota Twins.
On December 18, 1991, he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, against whom he had just won two games in the American League Championship Series. Morris led the league with 21 wins in 1992 and the Blue Jays went on to win the World Series, beating the Braves in six games. The Blue Jays won the Series again in 1993, though Morris pitched poorly, accumulating a 7-12 record with a 6.19 ERA before he season was cut a month short by injury. Fellow St. Paul-native, Paul Molitor, would be the 1993 World Series MVP.
Morris pitched for Cleveland in 1994 but was released in August just prior to the strike. The following spring he unsuccessfully attempted a comeback with Cincinnati. In 1996, the 41-year-old Morris went 5-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 10 starts with the St. Paul Saints before retiring for good.
May 16, 2010
Jason Kubel Hits Grand Slam Off Mariano Rivera
The Twins had not beat the Yankees since August 13, 2008. They had been swept by the Yankees in both the 2009 regular and postseason. Now, trailing 3-1 in the third game of a series at Yankee Stadium, the Twins loaded the bases against Joba Chamberlain in the eighth. With two out and the bases full of Twins, manager Joe Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera to face Jim Thome. Rivera had converted his last 51 home save opportunities, tying the Dodgers’ Eric Gagne’s all-time record. Rivera walked Thome, forcing in Orlando Hudson. Trailing now by just 1 run, Jason Kubel hit Rivera’s 1-0 pitch into the right field seats for a grand slam. The Twins went on to an improbably 6-3 victory, with Jon Rauch converting his 10th save of the season.
May 17, 1963
Bob Allison Hits 3 Home Runs
Bob Allison became the first Minnesota Twin to hit 3 home runs in a game in an 11-4 Twins win in Cleveland. He was 3-for-5 on the day with 6 RBI. His batting average at the end of the day was .330. He would finish his all-star ‘63 season with a .271 average, 35 HRs and 91 RBI.
Harmon Killebrew and Zoilo Versalles also hit home runs in the game. Pitcher Jim Perry, who had played for Cleveland the previous season, was 2-for-3 with a walk and scored on Allison’s first home run.
May 17, 1998
David Wells Pitches a Perfect Game
50,000 fans, including Billy Crystal, came out to Yankee Stadium for Beanie Baby Day, and what turned out to be the fifteenth perfect game in major league history. David Wells threw 120 pitches, striking out 11. The last perfect game at Yankee Stadium was pitched in game 5 of the 1956 World Series by Don Larsen, who attended the same high school as Wells, Point Loma High in San Diego. Don Larsen actually threw out the first pitch before baseball’s next perfect game, pitched by David Cone in 1999 on Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium. Cone threw only 88 pitches in his perfect game.
The major leagues’ first two perfect games were pitched in 1880, just five days apart. The next perfect game wasn’t pitched until 1904 by the Boston Americans’ Cy Young. The most recent perfect game was pitched by the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez on August 15th, 2012.
May 17, 2011
Harmon Killebrew Passes Away
On May 17th, 2011, the greatest Minnesota Twin passed away at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 74.
May 18, 1969
Rod Carew Steals Second, Third and Home
With the Billy Martin-managed Twins trailing 2-0 in Detroit, Cesar Tovar led off the bottom of third with a single off of Mickey Lolich. Then, with Rod Carew at the plate, Tovar was balked to second and stole third. Perhaps distracted by Tovar, Lolich walked Carew. Then, with Harmon Killebrew at the plate, the Twins executed a double steal, with Carew swiping second as Tovar stole home. With Killebrew still at bat, Carew stole third and home to tie the game. Killebrew ultimately struck out, and the Twins went on to lose the game 8-2. They would, however, go on to win the division but were beat in the League Championship Series by Baltimore.
Forty players have stolen second, third and home consecutively a total of 50 times in MLB history, 11 since 1940. The feet was accomplished four times in the '80s, twice in the '90s, once in the '00s, and, most recently, by Dee Gordon in 2011. Paul Molitor pulled it off in the 1st inning versus Oakland on July 26, 1987.
May 19, 1990
Tom Brunansky’s Big Day
The Twins had an ugly day at Fenway. The Red Sox’s Tom Brunansky drew first blood, driving in Wade Boggs with a one-out double in the first. The Red Sox went on to score five runs on five hits in the first off of Twins starter, Allan Anderson, who only lasted ⅔ of an inning. Brunansky went 5-for-5 with 2 HRs, 7 RBI and 3 runs scored as the Red Sox pummelled the Twins 13-1. Tom Kelly called upon outfielder John Moses to pitch the bottom of the eighth. He gave up just 1 run on 2 hits in his second pitching appearance for the Twins. His previous appearance had also come at Fenway, in 1989, as he pitched a scoreless eighth inning, not allowing a hit but walking one. He would pitch a third time for the Twins in July, 1990.
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