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The (Un)official 1991 World Series Re-Watch: Game 3

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The Twins Travel to Atlanta

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After sweeping the two games in the Dome, the Twins looked to gain a stranglehold in Game 3 of the 1991 World Series, as they traveled to Atlanta. The Twins ran out 20-game-winner Scott Erickson to face who was considered to be one of the future stars of the Braves, 21-year-old-lefty Steve Avery. This game would turn out to be an instant classic. If you are looking for the recap of the previous two games, the links are below. ENJOY!

(GAME 1 RECAP)

(GAME 2 RECAP)

(WATCH LINK)

  • “The Tomahawk Chop”... YIKES.
  • Steve Avery showed up in a multi-colored, vertical-striped shirt. That’s about as 90s as it can get.
  • “Macho Man” Randy Savage broke down “The Hrbek Play” in the pregame. Not much else needs to be added to that sentence.
  • Just to prove how lofty the expectations were for Steve Avery, the pregame compared him to some other lefties named Sandy Koufax and Steve Carlton.
  • According to Baseball America, Avery was the #1 ranked prospect in all of baseball going into the 1990 season, which was the inaugural top 100 ranking for Baseball America.
  • The Braves’ fans booed the unholy hell out of Kent Hrbek, and he loved every second of it! He was a pro-wrestling heel stuck in a Twins uniform.
  • Tim McCarver reminds the audience that Otis Nixon was supposed to be on this version of the Braves, but he failed a drug test. Man, that guy loved cocaine.
  • Dazzle leads off again with a ball that was misplayed in the outfield, hustling his way to a triple. Looked like Justice and Gant were worried about colliding more than catching the ball.
  • Speaking of David Justice, if you’ve read my first two recaps, you know what’s coming. That guy is a BUFFOON.
  • Knoblauch knocks home Dazzle on a sac fly, and the Twins jump out to a 1-0 lead.
  • The classy Atlanta crowd sets down their racially-insensitive foam tomahawks to chant “cheater” at Kent Hrbek as he bats.
  • Lonnie Smith quietly had a very good MLB career, finishing with a career WAR of 38.5 and finishing second to Dale Murphy in the 1982 MVP voting.
  • Scott Erickson finished second in the 1991 American League Cy Young voting, losing out to a Boston hurler you may have heard of, Roger Clemens.
  • Erickson won his 20 games by using his fielders, posting only 108 strikeouts in 204 innings in 1991. In predictable fashion, he strikes out Lonnie Smith to start his night.
  • The Scott Leius/Mike Pagliarulo platoon proved to be an effective one for the Twins, as they posted a combined WAR of 4.5 in 1991.
  • Erickson gets stung by the 6-7-8 hitters Greg Olson, Mark Lemke, and Rafael Belliard, and the Braves tie the game at 1. As ineffective of a hitter as Belliard was, you wonder if some more experience with National League strategy would’ve served the Twins a little better with the pitcher on deck.
  • David Justice hits a dinger to give to give the Braves a 2-1 lead in the 4th. As unlikable as that guy is, hit talent was undeniable.
  • Avery went on total cruise control after the unusual hit allowed to Dazzle, setting down 15 in a row.
  • Lonnie Smith goes yard, something that will become more common throughout the series.
  • David West, one of the non-Tapani-Aguilera pieces in the Frank Viola trade, comes in and immediately walks two consecutive batters in his World Series debut, leading to a 4-1 Braves lead.
  • Of all people to break up Avery’s streak of retired batters, it’s backup catcher Junior Ortiz, who posted a career OPS+ of 70.
  • Gene Larkin comes in to pinch hit and gets a hit, we may say that again later in the World Series.
  • Steve Bedrosian comes in out of the pen for the Twins in the 6th. “Bedrock” won the Cy Young in 1987 for the Phillies, in what can only be considered a “controversial” choice.
  • Kirby... DINGER. First hit of the World Series.
  • TK continues to empty the bench in the 8th, and Brian Harper reaches on an error, which chases Avery from the game.
  • Chili Davis comes up as the next pinch hitter... DINGER. OPPO TACO. Tie game at 4.
  • The coverage pans to the Metrodome, where thousands of intoxicated Twins fans are joyously waving their Homer Hankies.
  • Alejandro Pena got into a jam, but struck out Kirby and Shane Mack to end the Twins’ threat and send the game tied into the bottom of the 8th.
  • I wish Statcast defensive metrics were around in 1991, it seems like Kirby had his heels on the warning track to start off in center field.
  • Alejandro Pena posted a league-leading 2.48 ERA over 28 starts for the Dodgers in 1984, and didn’t receive a single Cy Young vote.
  • We have a Randy Bush sighting in the 9th.
  • Carl Willis gets out of a jam in the 9th, and Game 3 is heading to extras!
  • TK goes to Paul Sorrento with two men on in the 10th, who subsequently strikes out, and it goes to the bottom half at 4-4.
  • It’s funny seeing Greg Olson wearing #10 for the Braves, I wonder if that number will ever be popularized for that team.
  • Mark Guthrie wiggles out of his own jam in the bottom of the 10th, and the game rolls on to the 11th.
  • TK uses his last bench player, Al Newman, to begin the 11th, and the Twins use their 22nd player of the game, which was a World Series record to that point.
  • Both teams go down in order in the 11th, on to the 12th!
  • With one out, Dazzle gets a knock, Knoblauch hits a double play ball that gets through Lemke at second, and the Twins are in business. Here’s where things get interesting/weird.
  • Hrbek strikes out looking for the second out, the Braves walk Kirby to load the bases, and the pitcher’s spot comes up in the order. TK is forced to go to his most experienced remaining hitter, his closer, Rick Aguilera.
  • Despite making good contact, Aguilera is unfortunately not the genie in the bottle that TK was hoping for, and the game goes to the bottom of the 12th.
  • Justice gets on base, and with two outs, he steals second base.
  • Olson walks to fill first base, and the Braves’ hopes are left with Mark Lemke.
  • Lemke dumps a single to left, Dazzle’s throw home is slightly off-target, and Justice avoids Harper’s tag to give the Braves a dramatic 5-4 victory.

First of all, a big shout-out to all of the parents in 1991 that let their kids stay up to watch this one, as it carried over into the next morning. The Twins continued their misery on the road in the World Series, as they hadn’t won a single road game in any of their three World Series trips. In Game 4, each team rolled out a future Hall-of-Fame pitcher, which led to another thriller. Stay safe and see you next week!