Monday, September 28, 2009

My Twins memories.... the good ones Oct 6th edition!

Instead of a new blog I will just re-post this one! Place tonight's game immediately in my favorite 9.

The Twins are 2 out with 7 games to go. A pivotal 4 game series against 1st place Detroit starts tomorrow. There is great potential to improve on some of my Twins memories, but for now I will just post some of my current favorite Twins memories. Many posts lamenting the Metrodome's demise have appeared all over the map. I was going to do a Metrodome memories post but instead will just do a couple of Twins memories posts. My earliest memories of the Twins are from their first couple years in the dome anyway. Why focus on just dome memories I say?  Lets focus on my 10 favorite Twins memories instead.

I went negative a couple days ago and I am happy to go positive today:

10.) Twins vs. Angels 1984:
OK, a July 28, 1984 victory over the California Angels may not resonate with most folks. The details of the game resonate little with me. The Twins won 6-1. Frank Viola went all 9, giving up 1 run on 3 hits and 5 walks. The Twins improved 51-49. I don't remember any of these details. What I do remember is that this was my first ever major league game. No sitting next to my dad, mickey hit one out stories, but.... a good time. This was my first trip to a city, and I was in awe of the size of the buildings. One problem with my first game was I had a broken ankle and was hobbling around. I was also 11 years old and I drank alot of soda. We sat in the left field stands of the dome near the field and I remember hobbling up and down the steps to pee alot. I also remember how cool it was to be there and how much fun it was to play in the stands, I missed getting a home run ball because I could not move fast enough. I remember the Twins won and were in the pennant race. They only missed the playoffs by 3 games in a weak division. I had been an Atlanta Braves fan(due to the super-station access and Dale Murphy) and this game moved me towards the Twins.

9.) The Twins sweep the Sox:
September 25, 2008. The Twins came into the series down 2 games to the White Sox with 6 games to go. After winning the first 2 games the teams were even with 4 to go. The game did not start well and after the top of the 4th inning the Twins were down 6-1. The Twins got 2 runs in the bottom of the 4th, another in the 6th and 2 more runs in the 8th to tie the game. In the bottom of the 10th, with Nick Punto on 3rd and Denard Span on 1st and 2 outs,Alexi Casilla stepped to the plate. With a little flair hit into right/center the game was over, the Twins were in first, the team went crazy. In the end the Twins would lose game 163 but as of 159 the team was on top of the division.

Tonights game!!!!!!!!!! October 6, 2009!!!!

8.) ALCS 1987 clincher:
October 12, 1987. The Twins beat Detroit 9-5 in Detroit. The Twins won the ALCS 4 games to 1 over heavily favored Detroit  to go to the World Series. The coolest thing was the reception the team got. The airport was flooded with people waiting for the team. The team decided to go to the Metrodome to greet the fans. The team expected 3000-10000 fans but the place was packed. 50000+! You ask players on the 87 Twins their  greatest memory of that season and most of them mention the reception the team received after the Detroit series.

7.) Torii Hunter Crushes Jamie Burke:

July 26, 2004. The Twins went to Chicago with a .5 game lead over the White Sox. Torii Hunter wanted to send a message. "My instincts took over. I had to do what I had to do to touch home plate," Hunter said after crushing Burke on a home plate collision in the 8th, giving the Twins a 5-1 lead. Hunter may have been able to slide around him but the hit pretty much served notice to the Sox that the Twins were ready to fight and the Sox essentially folded the tent in the game, losing 6-2. The Twins swept the series. The Twins went into the game with a .5 lead and won the division by 8.5 games over the White Sox. The hit of Jamie Burke may have been the play that spring boarded the Twins to the title and knocked the Sox out.

6.) Hrbek's GS:
October 24, 1987. Game 6 of the World Series. The Twins returned home from St. Louis down 3 games to 2 and facing elimination. The Twins were leading 6-5 going to the bottom of the 6th inning. With the bases loaded and 2 outs lefty Ken Dayley was brought in to face Bloomington's own Kent Hrbek. Hrbek had been slumping in the World Series and wasn't strong against lefties. Hrbek broke out of the slump big time, hitting a Grand Slam to break open the game 10-5. This would become the signature moment of an otherwise nondescript World Series.(except for the fact it was Minnesota's first Championship since the Lakers left)

5.)last day 2006:

October 1, 2006. The Twins started the 2006 season slow following Kirby Puckett's death and on June 8 at 25-33 and they looked dead. Then the season turned around. Justin Morneau got hot and his play jump started the rest of the team. The Twins had a great summer. Johan Santana and rookie Francisco Liriano pitched lights out. Joe Mauer kept hitting. The "little piranha's" kept biting away and the team smelled RBIs. It was an amazing run. The team won a 10th inning game 159 to tie for first place for the first time all season. After losing 2 to the White Sox the Twins won their last game 5-1 to end the season on a 71-33 run. They ended the season 96-66 and were going to the playoffs. It was a sweet comeback and my favorite regular season. With Detroit still playing their game, at 95-66 and with a tie-breaker over the Twins, there was uncertainty whether the Twins would be a wild card and going to New York or staying at home to play Oakland. Watching on TV, you could see the whole crowd was still in the dome. They were showing the Detroit/Kansas City game on the big screen and the players were watching in the dugout and on TV in the clubhouse. The Royals finished off the Tigers in extra innings 10-8 and the dome erupted. It was one of the coolest scenes I have ever seen in baseball. The players came back to the field and celebrated with the fans. The first time the Twins were in first place all season was an hour after they'd finished playing their last game. Perfect cap to my favorite regular season

4.) AJ's HR:
October 6, 2002. The Twins had just capped off a magical season following a threat of being contracted. They went 94-67 to win the A.L. Central. Their first playoff birth since winning the 1991 World Series. Facing an Oakland A's team that went 103-59 and was in the playoffs for the third straight year. The Twins were big underdogs. The Twins won game 4 11-2 to pull even in the series and set up a winner take all Game 5. The game was a great pitchers duel. In the top of the 9th clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Twins put 2 men on for A.J. Pierzynski. A.J. Hit a 3 run HR. I watched in a TV room at a sports bar in Richmond, VA. I was all alone in the room(the other room was full of people watching Sunday football) running around in circles, screaming, wishing i had someone to drink with. Of course with a 5-1 lead, Minnesota's closer Everyday Eddie Guardado had room for error but he wouldn't let the team off the hook without a little drama. Eddie had 44 saves during the season but turned every save situation into an adventure. Eddie gave up a 3 run HR to Mark Ellis. After letting another man on with 2 outs, he finally coaxed a foul out in Oakland's spansive foul territory(Where have i heard about Oakland's foul territory?) FINALLY ending the game. I don't recall a more important 3 run HR or 4 run lead in Twins history. The Twins won. They lost to the Angels in the next round but, the 2002 Twins provided their fans the first and only playoff series victory since 1991.

3.) Johan Santana wins the 2004 Cy Young:
Johan Santana was picked up by trade from the Florida Marlins after Florida had selected him up in the Rule 5 Draft from the Houston Astros. Johan was kept on the 2000 Twins roster the entire season. He would have had to have been offered back to the Astros if he had been sent to the minors. As a long reliever, Johan had a terrible year but the Twins were a bad team in 2000. They could afford to keep a young man with a promising future on the roster. In 2001 the Twins were able to send Johan to the minor leagues and he spent most of 2001 and some of 2002 in AA and AAA learning the change-up from Bobby Cueller. By 2003 he was moved into the starting rotation for good. He won his last 8 decisions and started Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees. He finished the year 12-3 with a 3.07 ERA. In 2004, Johan was anointed the #2 starter behind Brad Radke. He started slowly going 6-6 then turned it on in June. His numbers the rest of the season where out of this world. He became the first pitcher since 1961 to give up four or fewer hits in ten straight starts, and his 13-0 record broke the old Major League second-half mark. Some more numbers: 11.13 K/9 innings, 1.21 ERA, 4.74 hits/9. In addition, Santana set a team season record with 265 strikeouts, surpassing the old 258 mark registered by Bert Blyleven in 1973.Santana finished 20-6, led the American League in strikeouts (265), ERA (2.61), strikeouts per nine innings pitched (10.46), WHIP (0.92), batting average allowed (.192), and OPS (.564). Opponents stole just six bases in seven attempts against him. He easily won the AL Cy Young Award over Curt Schilling. Johan was now the best pitcher in baseball. The Twins home attendance increased by 5000 the days he pitched. He was a star. The Twins hadn't had a star since Kirby Puckett. He would go on to win the Cy Young in 2006 as well and should have won in 2005. It was great watching him develop, too bad he did not stay.

1b.)....And We'll See Ya..Tomorrow Night
October 26, 1991. These two are well known and easy so I won't bore with alot of details. The Twins down 3 games to 2 needed to win two games at home. Kirby Puckett made a great catch on the Plexiglas wall in left-center early in the game. The game went into the 11th inning tied 3-3. Kirby Puckett had said before the game that he was putting the team on his back. He told Chili Davis he was going to take a couple pitches and when Leibrandt threw his change-up, he'd hit it out. Kirby saying he'd take pitches was worth a chuckle. On the 4th pitch, a change-up, Kirby hit it over the left center field wall and in one of the great HR calls of all time Jack Buck merely said.... Into left center for Mitchell....And We'll See Ya, Tomorrow Night.

1a.) The Twins are going to win the World Series:
Tomorrow Night.... October 27, 1991. Jack Morris vs. John  Smoltz. The pitcher of the 80s vs. the budding superstar. Winner takes all. One of the coolest moments I have ever seen in sports was catcher Brian Harper shaking hands with lead-off hitter Lonnie Smith. That's how great the series was. Both pitchers were great. Morris got in and out of trouble all night. He pitched 10 shutout innings, successfully convincing manager Tom Kelly to let him stay in the game more than once. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th and 1 out, Kelly had Gene Larkin, bad knee and all, pinch hit. With the outfield playing in, Larkin needed to hit the ball far enough to get passed the drawn in outfield. Larkin hit the ball to the warning track and... "The Twins are going to win the World Series! The Twins have won it! It's a base hit, it's a one-nothing, tenth inning victory!" -Jack Buck. Afterwards, a few of us ran the mile from our dorm to downtown Minneapolis to join the party. I was 18 and it is still probably the coolest experience of my life. We partied with over 100,000 people.

Shawn.....from my home, on the road in Binghamton, NY

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