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Twins Flashback: Gladden Caps off 3-Run Rally in the 9th to Complete Opening-Series Sweep of A's (4/9/1987)


Metrodome Magic was on full display today, as Dan Gladden’s walk-off single finished off a 3-run comeback for the Twins in the 9th inning to complete an opening-series sweep of the Oakland Athletics. The Twins are now off to a 3-0 start, their best start to a season since 1973.Twins 5, Oakland 4 | Box Score

Portugal: 5.2 IP, 7H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 5 K

Home Runs: Hrbek (1)

Multi-hit Games: Brunansky (3-for-4), Gagne (2-for-3)

Top 3 WPA: Gladden .449, Smalley .289, Brunansky .177

 

Chart via Fangraphs

 

Download attachment: Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 8.12.40 PM.png

 

When the Minnesota Twins traded for Dan Gladden (career .282 BA) this offseason, they knew they were getting a guy who could put his bat on the ball. His bat-to-ball skills were needed in the bottom of the 9th inning when he was called upon to pinch hit for Tom Nieto with the bases loaded. After getting ahead of the count 2-0, Gladden got a high fastball from reliever Jay Howell, and was able to drive it for a 2-RBI, walk off single, a welcomed first impression to his new base.

 

The Twins got on the board early in today’s afternoon affair when Kent Hrbek hit a solo shot in the bottom of the second inning off of starting pitcher, Chris Codiroli. Later in the inning, the Twins pushed across another run when designated hitter, Roy Smalley, scored off of a Codiroli wild pitch to take a 2-0 lead.

 

The A’s were quick to respond as they took advantage of Minnesota starter, Mark Portugal’s, control issues and scored two runs in the third and two runs in the sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead over the Twins. Portugal struggled through 5.2 innings, allowing 7 hits, 5 walks, and 4 runs. Kelly voiced disappointment in his starting pitcher after the game saying, “Mark’s certainly got the equipment to be a good pitcher, but he’s got to get together a little bit”.

 

Lucky for the Twins, reliever Juan Berenguer picked up the slack that Portugal left, pitching three shutout innings, allowing just one hit while striking out five. Kelly praised his reliever following the game stating, “He did a super job”. Berenguer’s super performance kept the Minnesota Twins in the game and allowed them to get to the bottom of the 9th inning with a shot at a comeback.

 

Following a leadoff groundout by Kent Hrbek, the Minnesota Twins recorded consecutive hits from Gary Gaetti (double), Tom Brunansky (RBI single), and Roy Smalley (double), to put the Twins in a position to win the game. After electing to intentionally walk Mark Salas, and bringing in pinch hitter Dan Gladden, the newly acquired outfielder was able to come through when it mattered most by hitting a 2-RBI single and completing the comeback.

 

The win capped off an opening series sweep of the Oakland Athletics and brought the Twins record to a 3-0, their best start to a season in nearly 15 years. Although Gladden was the hero in a dramatic win, he was sure to stay even-keel afterward. In a postgame interview with Star Tribune’s Dennis Bracken, Gladden said, “When you get real high, it’s a long way to fall down. That’s just something you learn in this game.”

 

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Heh... TK always had a bit of a thing for Portugal. I always liked the guy, but he was a young Cali dude, and I'm sure he got under TK's skin just by being himself. I was sad to see him get traded away for the proverbial bag o' balls, and he went on to have some good years in the NL.

 

 

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