So far, I have watched Game 1 and a good portion of Game 2, so let me take a few moments to make note of some things I have noticed up to this point. If you recall, the Twins won both games, 10-1 and 8-4, behind the arms of Frank Viola and Bert Blyleven. Here are a few things that have jumped out at me so far:
- The Twins have been C-L-U-T-C-H these first two games. With runners in scoring position, the Twins were 8-18 (.444 Avg.) in the first two games at the Metrodome. Watching it through in real time, it seemed that every time we needed that one hit, someone came through. It was Gladden, Laudner, Lombardozzi, everyone seemed to come through in the clutch. 4 of the 8 Game 2 runs were scored with two outs.
- Twins pitchers walked 1 batter in those first two games. One. Blyleven and Viola got ahead of hitters, they worked quickly, kept the defense on their toes, and didn’t let anyone on base without working for it. The two starters combined for 15 innings, and only gave up 3 runs to start the series.
- With the exception of the 2B and C positions, the lineup for the home team was filled with absolute studs – top 10 players at their position in the league in most cases. Gladden, Puckett, Brunansky, Gaetti, Gagne, Hrbek, Baylor, Viola, Blyleven, and Reardon were some of the names on the roster. Then you look at 2B and C, and Lombardozzi hit .412 for the entire series, and Laudner hit .318 for the series.
- The “Buck Ninety Fan Club” was in full force. This was a group of fans whose name came from Laudner’s season batting average – .191.
- Gary Gaetti apparently led the league in GIDP in ’87, with 25. To compare, Mauer hit into 23 in 2012.
- This team wasn’t just full of stars, it was packed with what the experts would call “Gamers”. Just in these first two games, I saw Dan Gladden (who hit 8 HR’s and drove in 38 runs) hit a grand slam to blow open Game 1; and then proceed to sprint around the bases looking like he was going to burst through my TV and beat me up. Then, in Game 2, Randy Bush slid head-first around Tony Pena‘s tag scoring from 2nd on a Laudner single in the 4th inning to make it 4-0 with 2 outs. He kept the inning alive and the Twins went on to score 3 more runs that inning to go up 7-0 and seal the deal.
- On both sides, it seemed like pitchers were throwing wicked curve after wicked curve. We don’t see as much of the big curve as we did 25 years ago. Blyleven’s, obviously, was especially nasty, and had Cardinal hitters on their heals for 7 innings. I remember growing up that us kids always wanted to throw that big curve. Looking back, I wish I had learned how to throw a good change-up, which I never really did master. The problem with the big curve, was that a guy like Dan Gladden could take a hanging curve from a guy like Bob Forsch, and deposit it in the LF seats for a grand slam pretty easily.
- I know Kirby was a free swinger, and I didn’t count, but I’m sure Puckett only saw about 15 pitches in his 9 at-bats those first two games. He seemed to swing at the first pitch no matter where it was. Fun to watch as a fan, but had to be frustrating at times for the rookie manager.
- Lastly, Twins hitters pulverized the Cardinals starting pitching, wearing them down to the tune of 10 walks and only 7 strike-outs in Games 1&2. Cardinals starters were constantly pitching into deep counts, and lasted only a combined 6.2 innings. Up and down the lineup – with the exception of Kirby – the at-bats kept going deeper and deeper.