October 13, 1965
World Series, Game Six
Dodgers Lead Series, 3-2
Dodgers: Maury Wills (SS), Jim Gilliam (3B), Willie Davis (CF), Ron Fairly (RF), Lou Johnson (LF), Wes Parker (1B), John Roseboro (C), Dick Tracewski (2B), Claude Osteen (P)
Twins: Zoilo Versalles (SS), Joe Nossek (CF), Tony Oliva (RF), Harmon Killebrew (3B), Earl Battey (C), Bob Allison (LF), Don Mincher (1B), Frank Quilici (2B), Mudcat Grant (P)
With their backs against the wall, manager Sam Mele and the Twins went to Mudcat Grant for the third time in the series. Between games One and Four, Grant was running on a mostly typical three days' rest. For Game Six he was running on just two days' rest, which was something he'd done just three times all season. Whatever you might want to say about the long-term effects on a pitcher's arm, but during the '65 campaign Grant had pitched well on two days' rest.
Mele had other options. Camilo Pascual and his sideshow curveball had lost Game Three, but it would be Pascual's only post-season performance in his entire career. Fellow veteran Jim Perry, who would win 44 games between the Twins' great seasons of '69 and '70, had a good season in '65 as a swing man, but he too was passed over. 21-year old rookie Jim Merritt was one of the best pitchers on the roster that season, but like Perry was only used out of the bullpen in the World Series. Mudcat had been huge in Game One, and Mele made it obvious where he was placing his bets facing elimination.
Looking to send the Dodgers to their second World Series in three years was Game Three winner, Claude Osteen. Osteen threw a five-hit, complete game shutout when he faced the Twins earlier in the series, and suffice it to say the circumstances surrounding that start were far different than the circumstances surrounding this one.
Grant and Osteen turned the opposition aside in the first, but in the bottom of the second Earl Battey flipped a ball into shallow center field that a diving Willie Davis wouldn't get to. Battey pulled in with a triple, but Osteen left him there.
Battey was a bit of a hero in this game. While his triple was wasted, he gunned down one of his future replacements, John Roseboro, as he tried to steal second in the top of the third. His grounder to Dick Tracewski in the fourth was booted, and because Battey busted it down the line he was safe on first.
Which came in handy when Bob Allison, the very next batter, took Osteen yard. It was Allison's biggest contribution of the series, one of just two hits and the only two runs he'd drive in, but they couldn't have come at a better time.
The player of the game, though, wasn't Battey or Allison. It was Mudcat Grant. In the bottom of the sixth, Dodgers reliever Howie Reed had walked Allison, who then stole second base. Reed decided to walk Frank Quilici with two outs in order to pitch to the Minnesota pitcher. Most pitchers weren't better hitters in the 60s than they are today, and that was the case with Grant who was a .155/.212/.227 batter that season.
It was a smart strategy by the Dodgers, but you also couldn't blame Mele for allowing his starter to hit. In a game that the Twins couldn't lose he'd chosen to go to his money arm, and that decision was looking good. The performance of Mele's bullpen hadn't paid off throughout the series, either. A 2-0 lead wasn't safe. And so Grant went to the plate.
Grant hit a three-run homer. Metropolitan Stadium lost its mind, and it's certainly possible that no louder crowd would be heard at that ballpark again. Game Six was now 5-0 in the Twins' favor.
Ron Fairly would lead off the Dodger seventh with a home run, but it was all Los Angeles could muster. Mele's decision to start Grant paid off in ideal fashion, and after looking lost in Game Five Minnesota had evened the series at three.
Onto Game Seven.