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  1. Over a 7-year career ending in 1979, Twins DH Craig Kusick came to the plate 1461 times, compiling an unremarkable slash line of .235/.342/.392. Kusick may have had a briefer stay in the bigs, however, if it was not for his uncanny ability to hit Frank Tanana of the California Angels who was the most intimidating strikeout pitcher in the American League not named Nolan Ryan or Vida Blue. Kusick ended up facing Tanana more than any other pitcher over his career – 59 times - which was about 4% of all his plate appearances. In those at-bats, Kusick went 16 for 42 (.381) drawing a Bonds-like 16 walks for a .542 on-base percentage. He also took Tanana deep 4 times in those 42 at-bats and drove in 11 runs. Three of those home runs came in consecutive games against Tanana in 1976, after which Tanana walked Kusick 7 times in the next 5 times they met – twice intentionally. While Kusick was certainly not a Twins great, his inextricable linking to Tanana suggests an interesting related topic. Thanks to the Batter-vs-Pitcher data on Baseball Reference we can now ask and answer who were the opposing players Twins greats faced the most and who owned whom? * * * * * * * * * For the first "Who Owned Whom?" we look at a recent Twins great, Joe Mauer. Over his 15-year career, Mauer played in 1858 games and had 7960 plate appearances. He batted .306, had an on-base average of .388, slugged .439 with 143 home runs, scored 1018 runs and drove in 939. His most frequent opposing pitcher over his career was none other than Detroit’s Justin Verlander who faced off against Joe in 97 plate appearances. Verlander, who has a career .228 batting average-against and OPS-against of .652, was definitely "owned" by Mauer as Joe finished with a slash line of .317/.423/.537 on 26 for 82 hitting with 15 walks. The 26 hits are the most by Mauer against any pitcher and the first one came in his first at-bat against Verlander in the second game of a Saturday double header versus Detroit on July 23rd, 2005 as Joe hit an 0-2 pitch deep to left field in Detroit for an RBI double. The other pitchers Joe faced frequently were Rick Porcello –who fared better than his Tigers teammate - (75 plate appearances, .243/.293/.329) and the unfortunate John Danks of the White Sox. (71 plate appearances, .381/.451/.476) Coincidentally (or not), Danks is the only pitcher to have beaned Mauer more than once. CC Sabathia is the pitcher that struck Joe out the most -17 Ks in 52 plate appearances - and, along with another lefty, Mark Buehrle, most “owned” Joe. Joe only managed .196/.269/.239 against Sabathia and .197/209/.303 against Buehrle. Sabathia was also the first pitcher Mauer faced in the big leagues in his debut versus Cleveland in the Season Opener at the Metrodome on April 5th, 2004. Mauer, batting 8th, walked on 4 pitches against Sabathia in the 3rd and struck out swinging on a full count in the 5th. Sabathia pitched through the 7th and left with a 4-0 lead. The Twins rallied to tie the game, 4-4, in the 8th inning and Mauer's first big league hit would come on a single to center off Rafael Betancourt leading off the 9th. The game went to extra innings and Mauer got his second hit on a one-out, one-on single to right in the 11th off Chad Durbin, moving Nick Punto (running for Matt LeCroy who had walked) to third. After a Christian Guzman strikeout, Shannon Stewart lifted a Durbin fly ball deep to LF for a game-winning 3-run homer, bringing in Mauer and Punto and blowing 49,584 Metrodome fans from the exits hoarse and happy. What a memorable game to start a career! Watch for another installment of "Who Owned Whom" coming soon.
  2. And here is the Twins Almanac for the weekend of August 27-28, 2016. Mrs. Johnson and I have been busy getting settled here in Minnesota. It's good to be back after a decade out west. Look for a fresh batch of Twins trivia by open of business Monday. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/20160810_105324_zpsinrwxudh.jpg August 27 Happy 46th Birthday, Jim Thome It’s the birthday of Jim Thome, born in 1970 in Peoria, IL. He had already hit 564 home runs when he signed with the Minnesota Twins prior to the 2010 season. He hit a dramatic walk-off home run on August 17, 2010, the first Twins walk-off hit at Target Field. On August 15, 2011 Thome hit two opposite field home runs in Detroit, the 599th and 600th of his career. The Twins sold him to Cleveland 10 days later. In total he hit 40 home runs as a Twin. Thome, whose final season was 2012, officially retired on August 2, 2014 with 612 home runs. He hit 61 home runs against the Twins. The only team he more against was Detroit, 66. Jim Thome is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2018. August 27, 1975 Kusick Ties Record, Blyleven Hurls Gem Craig Kusick tied a major league record by being beaned three times in the Twins’ game versus the Brewers in Milwaukee. That record stands to this day. Bert Blyleven, meanwhile, pitched an 11-inning shutout as the Twins won 1-0. Don Baylor, incidentally, owns the American League record for times hit-by-pitch in a career. He was beaned 267 times in his career played entirely in the AL. He was beaned four times while played for the 1987 World Series-champion Twins. August 27, 2012 Mauer Passes Battey for Most Games Caught Joe Mauer caught his 832nd game, surpassing Earl Battey for most games caught in Twins history. Battey played for Minnesota from 1961-’67. The game versus Seattle at Target Field was a pitchers duel between Felix Hernandez and rookie Liam Hendricks who would go the distance allowing only 3 hits. The Twins could only muster 5 hits off of Herndandez, with Mauer hitting a two-out single to center in the fourth. With the game still scoreless, Justin Morneau led-off the bottom of the seventh with a triple but was stranded there as three straight Twins batters grounded out. With Hendricks pitching a 2-hit shutout into the eighth, Seattle’s Eric Thames hit a leadoff home run and Seattle went on to win 1-0, with both Hendricks and Hernandez pitching complete games. http://i1074.photobucket.com/albums/w413/mjohnso9/Laudner.82D.89DAS_zpsl4ir6evw.jpg August 28, 1981 Tim Laudner Homers in MLB Debut 1976 Park Center High School graduate Tim Laudner homered in his major league debut, a 6-0 Twins win versus the Tigers in Bloomington. Laudner singled in his first MLB at-bat leading off the third and worked a walk in his second at-bat. In the seventh inning, in his third big league at-bat, Laudner hit a home run driving in Gary Ward. He popped out to the catcher in his final at-bat. Minnesota-native Jerry Koosman entered the game in the seventh inning, earning a seven-out save. Laudner hit his second major league home run the following day against Tigers pitcher Dan Schatzeder who would later win game 6 of the 1987 World Series for the Twins. Laudner had hit a whopping 42 home runs at AA Orlando in ‘81. The 44 he hit in total between the minors and majors led all of professional baseball. Laudner was one of three Twins to homer in his major league debut in 1981. Just four days earlier Kent Hrbek -- who, like Laudner, had also played his high school ball in the Twin Cities area -- hit a twelfth-inning home run in his major league debut off of George Frazier at Yankee Stadium. Frazier, like Schatzeder, would also go on to pitch for the ‘87 Twins. On September 20th, Gary Gaetti homered in his first major league at-bat. Keep in touch with @@TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.
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