October 11, 1991
ALCS, Game Three
Series Tied, 1-1
Twins: Dan Gladden (LF), Chuck Knoblauch (2B), Kirby Puckett (CF), Chili Davis (DH), Shane Mack (RF), Kent Hrbek (1B), Greg Gagne (SS), Junior Ortiz (C), Scott Leius (3B), Scott Erickson (P)
Blue Jays: Devon White (CF), Roberto Alomar (2B), Joe Carter (RF), Jon Olerud (1B), Kelly Gruber (3B), Candy Maldonado (LF), Rance Mulliniks (DH), Pat Border (C), Manuel Lee (SS), Jimmy Key (P)
Scott Erickson had his career year in 1991. In just his second season, the 23-year old right-hander who refused to let any white show on his uniform won 20 games, posted a 3.18 ERA, was an All-Star after winning 12 consecutive decisions and going into the break at 12-3, and finished the season second in Cy Young voting behind Roger Clemens.
Opposing the enigmatic Twins right-hander was 30-year old Jimmy Key. Key had already been one of the American League's best starting pitchers for the last half decade, averaging a 14-9 record, a 3.35 ERA, and 202 innings from 1985 through 1991. Like Erickson, Key was an All-Star, for the second time in his career, and Key had also finished second in Cy Young voting when pitching for the Blue Jays in 1987.
With preferred battery mate Junior Ortiz behind the plate, Erickson was shaky early on. Joe Carter homered with two out in the first, and the next three batters reached as well, with Candy Maldonado capping off the inning by doubling home Jon Olerud. Toronto held a 2-0 lead after one.
The Twins got on the board in the top of the fifth, when Shane Mack tripled off the wall in right field. Joe Carter went up for the catch, and the ball was actually in his glove, but it bounced out and Carter went down with a twisted ankle. Mack pulled up with an easy, stand-up triple. Carter would play the rest of the series, but he wasn't the same.
Kent Hrbek then slapped a grounder with the infield in, and Roberto Alomar moved towards the hole to his left. He made the stop but instead of getting the out at first he tried to get Mack at home, and he didn't have a chance.
Kirby Puckett's single tied it the next inning, bringing home Chuck Knoblauch, who had doubled. Carter relayed to Olerud who made a good throw home to Pat Borders, but Knoblauch slid in safely behind the catcher. It was Key's last inning, but he still outlasted Erickson who was pulled with just one out in the fifth. After the game, Tom Kelly commented on how worn out his 23-year old pitcher was by the experience.
From there David West, Carl Willis, David Wells, and Tom Henke kept the game tied and Game Three moved into extra innings. Mike Timlin came on to pitch the top of the tenth, and with one away Mike Pagliarulo entered the game to pinch hit for Scott Leius. This happened.
Please take special note of the air-high-five that Gladden gives Pags as he crosses home plate. Also note the silence from the Toronto crowd.
Brian Harper joined Rick Aguilera for the ninth inning battery, and Aguilera sent the Jays down 1-2-3 to secure the save and the 3-2 victory. The Twins were now up two games to one.