October 9, 1991
ALCS, Game Two
Twins Lead Series, 1-0
Twins: Dan Gladden (LF), Chuck Knoblauch (2B), Kirby Puckett (CF), Kent Hrbek (1B), Chili Davis (DH), Brian Harper (C), Shane Mack (RF), Mike Pagliarulo (3B), Greg Gagne (SS), Kevin Tapani (P)
Juan Guzman had a very up and down career. He led the league in ERA in 1996 (2.93), but also led the league in wild pitches in 1993 (26) and 1994 (13). Early in his career he rarely gave up home runs, but as the years rolled on it actually became something of a liability. Oh yes, and Blue Jays fans called him The Human Rain Delay.
But in 1991 he was a rookie, and went 6-1 over his last nine starts with a 2.24 ERA. He'd finish second in the American League Rookie of the Year vote, behind our very own Chuck Knoblauch.
Kevin Tapani, meanwhile, had just completed his first full season as a Minnesota Twins starting pitcher. Coming over from the Mets in the Frank Viola trade in 1989, the 27-year old Tapani pitched a career-high 244 innings in 1991 and also posted a career-low 2.99 ERA. He'd finish seventh in the AL Cy Young race, behind both Jack Morris (fourth) and Scott Erickson (second).
In spite of Chuck Knoblauch's single-handed effort to provide the Twins with any kind of offense, nobody else on the Minnesota side could get much of anything going off of Guzman in Game Two. Guzman would walk four in just over five innings of work, but the Twins tagged him for just two runs. Tapani wouldn't fare so well
Joe Carter's single in the first and Kelly Gruber's single in the third gave Toronto an early 3-0 lead, before Kirby Puckett made Guzman pay for his lack of control by singling home Knoblauch after a wild pitch. Two more walks in the sixth meant that Brian Harper's single pushed home another run, and going into the seventh it was a tightly contested game at 3-2.
Tom Kelly pulled Tapani in the seventh after a one-out walk, but unfortunately Steve Bedrosian couldn't hold serve. He gave back all the momentum the home team had built up the previous inning with a relatively quick walk, single and sac fly. Mark Guthrie would get the final out, but by then the damage had been done. Two more runs had crossed the plate, giving Toronto a three-run advantage with nine outs remaining.
The Blue Jays would retire nine of the final ten Twins hitters, the exception being a leadoff single in the eighth by Knoblauch, but Duane Ward over-matched nearly every batter he took on in the last two innings. Kent Hrbek, Chili Davis, Gene Larkin, and Mike Pagliarulo all went down swinging.
By taking a game from Minnesota in the Dome, Toronto took a series tie back to Toronto, where they'd have the advantage for three games. At least, that's what they say about home field advantage...
Also In the 1991 ALCS