October 6, 1965
World Series, Game One
Dodgers: Maury Wills (SS), Jim Gilliam (3B), Willie Davis (CF), Ron Fairly (RF), Lou Johnson (LF), Jim Lefebvre (2B), Wes Parker (1B), John Roseboro (C), Don Drysdale (P)
Twins: Zoilo Versalles (SS), Sandy Valdespino (LF), Tony Oliva (RF), Harmon Killebrew (3B), Jimmy Hall (CF), Don Mincher (1B), Earl Battey (C), Frank Quilici (2B), Mudcat Grant (P)
Minnesota had won a franchise record 102 games in 1965, thanks to fantastic offense from every position except second base and a pitching staff led by Mudcat Grant, Jim Kaat, Jim Perry, and Camilo Pascual. Zoilo Versalles had by far the most productive season of his career, producing 7.2 wins above replacement and leading the league in plate appearances (728), at-bats (666), runs (126), doubles (45), triples (12), total bases (308), and someone less impressively - strikeouts (122).
In 1932 the Brooklyn team changed to the Dodgers. Prior to that year they'd been the Robins, Superbas, Dodgers the first time (for two years), the Superbas the first time, the Bridegrooms, the Grooms, the Bridegrooms the first time, the Grays and, in their inaugural season of 1884, the Atlantics. In all the years leading up to 1932, the Robins/Superbas/Dodgers/Bridegrooms/Grooms/Grays/Atlantics were 0-3-1 in the World Series. When they were the Dodgers of Brooklyn, from 1932 to 1957, the team was 1-6 in the World Series. Since the move to Los Angeles in 1958, though, they'd already won it all in 1959 and 1963. In 1965, they were looking to continue the positive trend following the move. While they didn't have the offense of the Twins, they had Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. Between them they'd won three of the last four NL Cy Young awards.
But on this day, Drysdale didn't have his typical Ace stuff. Ron Fairly did give the Dodgers a brief 1-0 lead when he led off the top of the second with a home run, but the Twins answered in the bottom half when Don Mincher turned on Drysdale and pulled a shot deep over the right field fence. Mudcat Grant retired the Dodgers in order, and Minnesota went right back to work in the bottom of the third. Future Twins manager Frank Quilici led off with a double, Drysdale couldn't handle a popped up bunt attempt by Grant, and then Zoilo Versalles went deep for a three-run shot to left field. Five batter later the bases were loaded, and Earl Battey went back-to-back with Quilici with singles to push the score to 7-1 and chase Drysdale from the game.
Versalles would pick up another RBI in the sixth, but it hardly mattered. Grant was in control, working around a pair of base runners in the fourth, fifth and sixth to keep the Dodgers off the board. When they finally scratched across another run off of Grant there were two outs in the ninth, and it was the definition of too little, too late.
The Twins rode Grant to through the season in '65, and while they gave him plenty of help they certainly rode his arm through Game One of the World Series as well.
October 6, 1969
ALCS, Game Three
Orioles: Don Buford (LF), Paul Blair (CF), Frank Robinson (RF), Boog Powell (1B), Brooks Robinson (3B), Davey Johnson (2B), Elrod Hendricks (C), Mark Belanger (SS), Jim Palmer (P)
Twins: Ted Uhlaender (LF), Rod Carew (2B), Tony Oliva (RF), Harmon Killebrew (3B), Rich Reese (1B), Cesar Tovar (CF), John Roseboro (C), Leo Cardenas (SS), Bob Miller (P)
While the Orioles kept their lineup mostly the same to what they'd shown in the first two games of the series, the Twins switched things up. Tovar slid from the leadoff spot to sixth; veteran Bob Allison was out of the lineup; former Dodgers catcher and All Star John Roseboro made his first start of the series in place of George Mitterwald; Ted Uhlaender made his first start of the series and was thrust into the leadoff role.
Matching up Bob Miller against Jim Palmer was kind of like asking Anthony Swarzak to hold serve against a young Tim Hudson. Miller made a few starts during the '69 campaign but was largely a reliever, although he was certainly competent at what he did. Palmer, meanwhile, was just 23 years old and just building his Hall of Fame resume. You would have thought that Jim Kaat would have been the obvious go-to pitcher in an elimination game, since Jim Perry and Dave Boswell had gone in games one and two, but Kaat had started the last game of the regular season on October 2. He'd also been used more as a reliever through September than a starter.
And so, after two incredible games and two gut-wrenching losses in extra innings, the Orioles put the Twins out of their misery early. Miller worked around back-to-back leadoff singles to hang a zero in the first, but after Minnesota drew first blood in the bottom half of the inning the Orioles game out in the top of the second and hung three runs on two doubles, a single, and an error. Baltimore chased Miller after just 1.2 innings, and from there the Twins patched together the rest of the game from the bullpen.
Six Twins pitchers threw the final 7.1 innings, including Dean Chance, who was at the end of the productive era of his career following mid-season injuries. The victory gave Baltimore a clean sweep over Minnesota and vaulted them onto the World Series, where they'd lose to the Mets in five games.
October 6, 2002
ALDS, Game Five
Twins: Jacque Jones (LF), Cristian Guzman (SS), Corey Koskie (3B), Matt LeCroy (DH), Torii Hunter (CF), Doug Mientkiewicz (1B), Michael Cuddyer (RF), A.J. Pierzynski (C), Denny Hocking (2B), Brad Radke (P)
Athletics: Ray Durham (DH), Scott Hatteberg (1B), Miguel Tejada (SS), Eric Chavez (3B), Jermaine Dye (RF), David Justice (LF), Mark Ellis (2B), Terrence Long (CF), Ramon Hernandez (C), Mark Mulder (P)
After taking down the A's in an emotional Game Four blowout in the Metrodome, both teams flew to Oakland for the deciding Game Five. Taking the mound for he A's was Mark Mulder, recently turned 25, who was wrapping up the second of his five good years. On the hill for the Twins was Brad Radke. The 29-year old Radke had missed some time during the season, but when it came down to a do-or-die post-season scenario, there wasn't another pitcher on the roster who belonged in that game more than Radke.
Radke was known for his slow starts, and Eric Chavez nearly hit one out in the first inning. But Michael Cuddyer ran himself into the wall near the foul pole for the catch, and no harm was done.
The Twins would score in both the second and third innings. In the second, an infield chopper allowed the slow as syrup Matt LeCroy an infield single when Miguel Tejada couldn't pick up the ball. Torii Hunter then pulled a double down the left field line. After loading the bases and finally getting through a frustrating at-bat with A.J. Pierzynski, Denny Hocking of all people came through with a line drive into center field. The ball was hit so hard that, in spite of Joe Morgan's protests, it wouldn't have been a smart gamble to send Hunter around third. Matt LeCroy would single home Cristian Guzman in the third.
Ray Durham's solo homer in the bottom of the third put the A's on the board. Check out the look in Radke's eyes after the home run. It's easy to look back now and drop in our own subtext, but that man was the Ice King. If he had any control over it, the A's wouldn't touch him for a run again. And they didn't.
For the next few innings, Radke and Mulder exchanged goose eggs. Mulder seemed to have a bit of a harder time, but it didn't stop him from striking out the side in the fifth. J.C Romero relieved Radke to record the third out in the seventh. Chad Bradford came on for the eighth and induced three consecutive groundouts. LaTroy Hawkins struck out Tejada to get his only out of the game, ending the eighth. And then things got interesting.
Dustan Mohr had taken over for Cuddyer in right field in the eighth, and took took ball four on a full count for a leadoff walk in the ninth. Pierzynsky was up next, and quickly snapped an 0-for-4 performance by pulling a two-run shot just over the wall in right field. The Colosseum fell silent as A.J. rounded the bases, clearly pretty jacked up, and I remember exactly where I was and what i did when that ball cleared the field of play. Don't you? I mean, it was obvious: the Twins were about to take the series and, you know what? They just might be good enough to win it all.
Six batters later, David Ortiz laced a liner just over the outstretched glove of Mark Ellis into the gap. The run scored, and gave the Twins a 5-1 lead.
Now...we all know it didn't finish easy. Eddie Guardado came on for the ninth with a four-run lead, was all over the plate, and when Ellis took the lefty deep with a three-run shot we all were just a bit more than nervous. But Guardado would get the final two outs to secure the win, and the Twins would advance to the ALCS to take on the Angels.
October 6, 2004
ALDS, Game 2
Twins: Shannon Stewart (LF), Jacque Jones (RF), Torii Hunter (CF), Justin Morneau (1B), Corey Koskie (3B), Jason Kubel (DH), Cristian Guzman (SS), Michael Cuddyer (2B), Henry Blanco (C), Brad Radke (P)
Yankees: Derek Jeter (SS), Alex Rodriguez (3B), Gary Sheffield (RF), Hideki Matsui (LF), Bernie Williams (CF), Jorge Posada (C), Ruben Sierra (DH), Jon Olerud (1B), Miguel Cairo (2B), Jon Lieber (P)
This is, without a doubt, one of the most heartbreaking games I've ever seen as a Twins fan. Maybe it was the start of that whole "Yankee Stigma" nonsense that perpetuated post-season dogma for the six or seven years. Maybe it was just another big game and, in this one, the Twins fought the good fight but just couldn't close it out. Maybe the Yankees really just were the better team.
That's probably the reality, which makes it so much worse. Minnesota should have been up 2-0 in this series.
Both teams traded runs early and often. Justin Morneau scored Torii Hunter in the first but ended the inning trying to extend his double to a triple. Derek Jeter tied the game with the first at-bat the Yankees put together in the game. Michael Cuddyer and Henry Blanco helped manufacture a pair of runs in the second. Gary Sheffield took Radke deep for a two-run homer in the third. Alex Rodriguez gave the Bombers their third homer in the fifth, a solo shot, and then chased Radke and a run-scoring single in the seventh. But the Twins would tie it up in the top of the eighth, off of Mariano Rivera, no less. With one on and two out, Morneau and Corey Koskie picked up the visiting Twins and tied the game at five.
Juan Rincon pitched two perfect innings, striking out four, to send the game into extra innings. Joe Nathan turned the Yankees away in the tenth. He did it again in the eleventh. And in the top of the twelfth, Hunter took Tanyon Sturtze deep on an 0-1 count.
It didn't end the way it should have. Leading 6-5 going into the bottom of the twelfth, Nathan came out to face the bottom of the order. He struck out Jon Olerud, then walked back-to-back hitters before giving up a ground-rule double to the Twin Killer, Alex Rodfreakingriguez. Nathan intentionally walked Sheffield to set up a force at any base, Gardy brought in J.C. Romero, and Hideki Matsui lofted the first pitch he saw just deep enough to score the run from third base.
The Yankees won 7-6 in 12, and tied the series at one.
October 6, 2006
ALDS, Game Three
Twins: Luis Castillo (2B), Nick Punto (3B), Joe Mauer (C), Michael Cuddyer (RF), Justin Morneau (1B), Torii Hunter (CF), Rondell White (LF), Jason Tyner (DH), Jason Bartlett (SS), Brad Radke (P)
Athletics: Jason Kendall (C), Mark Kotsay (CF), Milton Bradley (RF), Frank Thomas (DH), Eric Chavez (3B), Jay Payton (LF), Nick Swisher (1B), Marco Scutaro (SS), D'Angelo Jimenez (2B), Dan Haren (P)
This series never seemed like it was going to end well. The Twins looked like they had everything to lose - forcing plays that didn't need to be made, being too aggressive at the plate, losing command on the mound when it mattered the most. In this one, Brad Radke just didn't have it. It's a shame that this was his final game, because it wasn't as good as he deserved it to be.
Torii Hunter would homer in the fourth to get the Twins to within three. Two innings later Rondell White delivered, quite possibly for the first time all year we're not really sure, and drove in Justin Morneau to make the score 4-2. But, as mentioned in the prior paragraph, Minnesota was wild. Hunter was out at home on the play.
Jesse Crain walked in a run and then gave up a based-clearing double in the eighth to make it 8-2. Morneau's solo homer was a footnote in what was ultimately a royal ass-kicking at the hands of the Oakland A's. The swept the Twins decisively.
October 6, 2009
Tigers: Curtis Granderson (CF), Placido Polanco (2B), Magglio Ordonez (RF), Miguel Cabrera (1B), Carlos Guillen (DH), Ryan Raburn (LF), Brandon Inge (3B), Gerald Laird (C), Ramon Santiago (SS), Rick Porcello (P)
Twins: Denard Span (CF), Orlando Cabrera (SS), Joe Mauer (C), Jason Kubel (RF), Michael Cuddyer (1B), Delmon Young (LF), Jose Morales (DH), Matt Tolbert (3B), Nick Punto (2B), Scott Baker (P)
I'm not going to tell you anything about this game, because there's nothing I could say now that could possibly illustrate how close and incredible and exhilarating and unbelievably fantastic this game, and its finish, really was.
Full Recap: Twins Are Central Division Champs!
Immediate Reaction: Metrodome Has Time for One More Miracle: Twins Win In 12
October 6, 2010
ALDS, Game One
Yankees: Derek Jeter (SS), Nick Swisher (RF), Mark Teixeira (1B), Alex Rodriguez (3B), Robinson Cano (2B), Marcus Thames (DH), Jorge Posada (C), Curtis Granderson (CF), Brett Gardner (LF), CC Sabathia (P)
Twins: Denard Span (CF), Orlando Hudson (2B), Joe Mauer (C), Delmon Young (LF), Jim Thome (DH), Michael Cuddyer (1B), Jason Kubel (RF), Danny Valencia (3B), J.J. Hardy (SS), Francisco Liriano (P)
Once again, because it's getting late and this post is already nearly 2500 words long, I'm going to send you back in time to Twinkie Town history for this game. Enjoy!