The Twins Almanac for April 16-22
April 16, 1961
First Grand Slam in Twins History
Bob Allison hit the first grand slam in Twins history in the top of the first in the first game of a doubleheader in Baltimore. The Orioles’ Chuck Estrada, who had tied for the league lead with 18 wins the previous season and would win 15 in 1961, walked three straight to start the game, filling the bases for the cleanup hitter Allison. After giving up a double to Jim Lemon, Estrada was pulled having given up four runs without recording an out. Relief pitcher John Papa didn’t fare much better, issuing two two-out bases loaded walks before Dick Hall, the third pitcher used by Baltimore in the six-run first, came on to get the final out.
Bob Allison added a three-run home run in the sixth, giving him seven RBI for the game. The Twins won 10-5.
Bob Allison’s grand slam was historic in three ways. Obviously it was significant in that it was the first in Twins history. Secondly, Allison would go on to hit three grand slams in 1961, still tied for the team record with Rod Carew (1976), Kent Hrbek (‘85), Kirby Puckett (‘92), and Torii Hunter (‘07). Thirdly, it was the first of eight grand slams that the Twins would hit during their inaugural 1961 season. That’s still a team record. The other Twins to hit grand slams in ‘61 were Dan Dobbek, Harmon Killebrew, Julio Becquer (a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam on the fourth of July), Ted Lepcio, and Bill Tuttle.
The Twins held a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the 9th of the second game of the doubleheader. With one out and the bases loaded, Baltimore crept to within one on an RBI groundout. Then, with two down, runners on second and third and future-Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog pinch-hitting for future-Hall of Fame knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm, Twins pitcher Ray Moore unleashed a wild pitch, allowing Baltimore to tie the game 4-4.
In the top of the 11th, however, Zoilo Versalles hit a two-run home run, and Chuck Stobbs slammed the door in the bottom of the inning.
April 17, 2009
Kubel Completes Cycle with Grand Slam
Down 4-9 to the Angels in the eighth at home in the Dome, the Twins scored three on RBI hits by Mike Redmond and Denard Span. After Brendan Harris struck out looking for the second out, the Angels, still leading by two, intentionally walked Justin Morneau to load the bases for Jason Kubel, who had already gone 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored and was a home run shy the cycle. Kubel hit the 0-1 pitch out of the park, completing the Twins’ seven-run eighth inning rally. Joe Nathan retired the Angels in order in the top of the ninth for the save and an 11-9 Twins win. Two previous players had completed the cycle with a grand slam, both shortstops. Tony Lazzeri in 1932, and Miguel Tejada in 2001.
April 17, 2010
Joe Mauer Receives MVP Award
Joe Mauer receives the 2009 American League Most Valuable Player Award.
After missing the first 22 games of the 2009 season with a lower back injury, Joe homered on his first swing back from the disabled list. He went on to hit 11 home runs and drive in 32 runs in the month of May. He would go on to set career bests with 28 homers and 96 RBI, and win his third AL batting title, setting a major league record for highest batting average by a catcher, .365.
The Twins won the Central Division in ‘09 with a dramatic 12th inning walk-off win in Game 163 vs. Detroit, but were swept by the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.
April 17, 2014
Twins Draws 8 Walks in 8th
The Twins and the Blue Jays played two cold ones on April 17 after having been snowed out the previous night. The Twins won game 1 by a score of 7-0. The gametime temperature of 31 degrees was a record for a Twins home game. The temperature was up to 42 for the start of game 2. The Twins trailed 3-5 going into the bottom of the eighth when they would score four runs before their first hit, and ultimately score six runs on just one hit. Blue Jays pitcher Steve Delebar walked Josmil Pinto and Chris Hermann to start the inning. Eduardo Nunez then dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt. In retrospect the sacrifice was completely unnecessary, as Sergio Santos (replacing Delebar) and J.A. Happ combined to walk the next five Twins batters. Three runs scored on Santos wild pitches, and a fourth run scored when Happ walked Chris Colabello with the bases loaded. Finally, after having already scored four runs, the Twins got their first hit of the inning, a two-run Jason Kubel single to right. Josmil Pinto then walked for the second time in the inning before the Blue Jays finally recorded the final two outs of the inning. Glen Perkins sat down the Jays in order in the ninth, securing a 9-5 Twins victory.
April 18, 1912
Minnesota Native Makes Only MLB Appearance
Hack Spencer, who was born in St. Cloud and grew up in the Minneapolis area, makes his one and only major league appearance, allowing two runs on two hits in the final 1.2 innings of a 7-12 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
The Browns would finish the season 53-101. The only American League team worse than the Browns in 1912 was the New York Highlanders. The Highlanders would become the Yankees in 1913 and go on to win 27 World Series, including at least two in each decade from 1920 to 2010, except for the '80s in which they did not win a World Series. The Yankees have not won a World Series in the current decade, if that makes anyone feel better.
Happy 57th Birthday to Frank Viola
It’s the birthday of 3x All-Star pitcher Frank Viola, born in East Meadow, New York in 1960. The Twins drafted Viola in the second round in 1981 out of St. John’s University in Queens, New York. Viola was the Most Valuable Player of the 1987 World Series, and was an All-Star and Cy Young Award winner the following season when he won a major league-leading 24 games. On July 31st, 1989, the Twins traded Viola to the New York Mets for pitchers Rick Aguilera, Kevin Tapani, David West, Tim Drummond, and Jack Savage. As a Met, Viola was an NL All-Star in 1990 and ‘91, finishing third in NL Cy Young balloting in 1990. Viola was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame with Carl Pohlad in 2005.
Happy 34th Birthday to Joe Mauer
It’s the birthday of 2001 Cretin-Derham Hall graduate and #1 overall major league draft choice, 3x American League batting champ, 2009 Most Valuable Player, and 6x All-Star Joseph Patrick Mauer, born in St. Paul in 1983.
No other American League catcher has ever won a batting title. The last National League catcher to win a batting title was 1986 Hall of Fame inductee Ernie Lombardi in 1942. Mauer’s .365 average in 2009 is the best by a catcher in major league history.
April 19, 1988
Joe Niekro Called for 3 Balks
After the Yankees’ Rickey Henderson led off the game with a single to center, Joe Niekro was called for back-to-back balks, advancing Henderson to second and to third. Henderson scored on a Don Mattingly double. Henderson came up again in the second inning, this time hitting a two-RBI single to left. Niekro was promptly called for his third balk of the game, moving Henderson up to second. After giving up a two-run home run to Mike Pagliarulo to make it 7-0 Yankees in the second, Niekro was replaced by Juan Berenguer. Berenguer, Keith Atherton and Jeff Reardon did not allow a run the rest of the game. Trailing 3-7 in the bottom of the ninth, the Twins scored three runs on RBI hits by Kirby Puckett and Tom Brunansky before Hrbek lined out to first, ending the game with the tying runner, Mark Davidson, stranded on third.
April 20, 1903
Chief Bender Makes MLB Debut
19-year-old Crow Wing County native Charles “Chief” Bender makes his major league debut with the Philadelphia Athletics, pitching six innings in relief, earning the victory over the Boston Americans’ Cy Young. Seven days later he earned his first complete-game shutout vs. the New York Highlanders and Hall of Fame pitcher Clark Griffith. Griffith, of course, went on to own the Washington Senators until his death in 1955 when his son Calvin took over. Calvin, of course, moved the Senators to Minnesota in 1961.
Bender would go on to win 212 games over 16 seasons. He became the first Minnesotan inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1953.
April 21, 1961
Twins First Home Opener
Having started their inaugural season 5-1, the Twins came home to Bloomington to play the expansion Washington Senators. The teams were tied 3-3 when the Senators scored two off of Ray Moore in the top of the ninth to win 5-3. Only 24,606 fans attended the game, 6,000 short of a sell-out despite a gametime temperature of 63 degrees.
April 21, 1985
John Butcher Pitches 1hr 55min CG Shutout
The Twins had lost nine in a row, falling to 2-9 on the season, entering the Sunday series finale in Oakland when Twins pitcher John Butcher hurled a remarkable complete game shutout. Butcher allowed three hits, but faced just 28 batters, one over the minimum. He threw just 81 pitches and the game was over in one hour and 55 minutes. Leadoff hitter Kirby Puckett went 3-for-5, driving in both Twins runs in the 2-0 victory. It was the beginning of a 10-game Twins winning streak.
April 21, 2007
19th Straight Steal to Start Season
In the 17th game of the season, Alexi Casilla stole second base for the Twins' 19th consecutive successful steal attempt to start the season. Torii Hunter was caught stealing in the eighth to end the streak. With a 7-5 lead in Kansas City, Joe Nathan pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth, with all three outs coming on called third strikes.
April 21, 2012
Willingham Begins Twins Career with 15-Game Hit Streak
April 22, 1961
Twins' First Walk-Off Win
April 22, 1980
89 degrees for 1980 Home Opener
Geoff Zahn pitched a complete game for an 8-1 Twins win in the 1980 home opener. The gametime temperature in Bloomington was a balmy 89 degrees. Hosken Powell, Ron Jackson and Roy Smalley each homered.
April 22, 1988
Twins Day Goes From Bad to Worse
Bert Blyleven gave up seven runs on nine hits and four hit batters in 4 2/3 innings in an 11-6 loss to the Cleveland ballclub at the Metrodome. Four of those runs came on a Cory Snyder grand slam. Later in the game, Joe Carter also hit a grand slam off of Keith Atherton. To add insult to injury, after the game the Twins traded Tom Brunansky to the Cardinals in exchange for clubhouse cancer Tommy Herr.
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