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Worst All-Time Twins Tournament, Nishioka Round, Game 3: What a stupid loss

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Pitching baseballs, and pitching a win in the bin.

Baseball Card Of Gil Coan
Oh give me a Coan, where the baserunners roam...
Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Game 3 Lineups

(5) 1981 TWINS (6) 1948 SENATORS
9 - Mickey Hatcher - CF 4 - Mickey Vernon - 1B
26 - Kent Hrbek - DH 6 - Bud Stewart - CF
5 - Roy Smalley - SS 32 - Tom McBride - LF
2 - John Castino - 3B 7 - Eddie Yost - 3B
20 - Dave Engle - RF 3 - Gil Coan - RF
25 - Danny Goodwin - 1B 9 - Len Okrie - DH
32 - Gary Ward - LF 5 - Sherry Robertson - 2B
16 - Butch Wynegar - C 11 - Jake Early - C
14 - Pete Mackanin - 2B 22 - Sammy Meeks - SS
17 - Pete Redfern - RHP 16 - Mickey Haefner - LHP

Result

It’s a story all too familiar to Twins fans: a brilliant pitching performance by the starter, and the bullpen fumbles it away.

Even the virtual Twins could not escape that fate.

After a dominant 7.2 innings from Pete Redfern setting up ‘81 with a 2-0 lead, the bullpen squandered it all in the ninth, Darrell Jackson walking in the winning run to cement a completely avoidable 3-2 defeat.

Heading into that ninth, both offenses had only just begun to pick up, having spent the first six innings without getting a runner home. Redfern, starting in place of Fernando Arroyo, and ‘48’s Mickey Haefner allowed only four hits apiece over the first two-thirds of the game.

Only twice had a team even put two men on base. In the bottom of the first, Redfern walked Bud Stewart and plunked Eddie Yost before retiring the side, while the top of the fourth saw ‘81 put men on the corners with one out thanks to a Roy Smalley double and John Castino single, but Dave Engle flew to shallow right and Danny Goodwin popped to second to stifle the threat.

The seventh inning saw Haefner’s outing begin to unwind. After Engle and Gary Ward singled to put men on the corners with one out, Haefner struck out Butch Wynegar, but Pete Mackanin singled up the middle to break the dual shutout. Dick Welteroth retired Mickey Hatcher to end the frame with the Senators down one.

An inning later, the deficit doubled. After a strikeout, Welteroth walked Roy Smalley and John Castino singled him to second. Engle flew out, but Welteroth moved the runners up on a wild pitch before walking Goodwin. Ramón García came in to escape the jam, but Ward singled up the middle, scoring Smalley with Minnesota’s second run. Castino attempted to score on the single, but Stewart threw him out at the plate to end the inning.

The bottom of the frame saw Redfern’s mastery yielded to the bullpen, foreshadowing the disaster to come. Following a pair of groundouts, Tom McBride singled up the middle and Doug Corbett trotted in from the bullpen. Eddie Yost promptly took four balls before Gil Coan singled, his third of the game, to load the bases. But Corbett struck out Len Okrie, ending the inning to preserve the shutout.

Briefly.

Bob Veselic took over in the bottom of the ninth and retired Sherry Robertson to put Minnesota two outs from victory, but his command failed him from that point. Al Kozar batted for Jake Early and walked, and Mark Christman came off the bench and executed a successful hit-and-run, moving pinch runner Ángel Fleitas to third. After Veselic threw four pitches out of the strike zone to Mickey Vernon, loading the bases, Minnesota summoned Jackson from the bullpen to set up a lefty-lefty matchup against Stewart. But Stewart sent Jackson’s first pitch over Mickey Hatcher’s head in center, bringing in Fleitas and Christman to tie the game.

With two men in scoring position, Jackson intentionally walked McBride to set up a force at any base. Yost sent a grounder to Goodwin at first, who forced out Vernon at home, but lost his control against Coan. After working back from a three-ball deficit to fill the count, Jackson threw the sixth and final pitch of the at-bat through the opposite batter’s box, sending Coan to first base and Stewart home with the winning run.

So it goes.

But it’s never fun when it goes that way.

Nishioka Round, Game 2 | Nishioka Round, Game 3 | Nishioka Round, Game 4