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All-Time Twins Tournament, Puckett Round, Day 1: A pitcher’s duel and a hitter’s frenzy

You can figure out which is which.

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals
No, the other Johan.
Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Something I only realized after starting the bracket: when updating the links at the bottom of each page, it pushes the articles to the top of Chorus. So as not to block other Twinkie Town authors’ finished work from being seen and published, the links at the bottom will not be updated after initial publication until the end of each round.

Minneapolis Sectional (played)

(16) 2017 Twins 0
(13) 2003 Twins 1
‘03 leads series 1-0

Ervin Santana pitched 7.2 innings of shutout baseball, but Johan Santana and the ‘03 bullpen matched him, and ‘17’s bullpen could not hold.

Michael Ryan and A.J. Pierzynski hit back-to-back doubles off Ryan Pressly to walk off ‘17 in the ninth, taking Game 1 by a 1-0 score.

The walkoff spoiled a top-notch performance by Santana, who allowed three hits while throwing 96 pitches. Santana outpitched Johan Santana, but his six hits allowed over 6.1 innings were still enough to keep ‘17 off the scoreboard.

During the beginnings of the string of zeroes, each team only left multiple men on base once. In the top of the third, Byron Buxton and Brian Dozier singled (one of three hits for Dozier) with one out, but Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano hit harmless infield grounders. An inning later, Doug Mientkiewicz led off with a walk and Ryan singled him to third with two outs, but Pierzynski popped to third.

While Ervin Santana cruised, ‘17 wore down Johan Santana, bringing his pitch count to 95 after six innings. Santana came back out to start the seventh and struck out Jorge Polanco, but left the game after Chris Gimenez singled on his 106th pitch. Grant Balfour entered and promptly got Buxton to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Ervin Santana, having made quicker time through innings, lasted nearly one more. But after starting the eighth with a strikeout and groundout, Shannon Stewart’s double ended Santana’s day after 95 pitches. Doug Mientkiewicz worked an 11-pitch walk off Buddy Boshers, but Jacque Jones ended the threat with a groundout.

After J.C. Romero shut down ‘17 in the top of the ninth, ‘03 put a quick end to the game. Pressly got Torii Hunter to send his first pitch into Buxton’s glove, but Ryan lined a double into the left-center field gap, and Pierzynski followed with one down the right field line, at last bringing home a run and finishing the game.

Stars of the Game
‘17 — SP Ervin Santana: 7.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K
‘17 — 2B Brian Dozier: 3-4, 2 2B
‘03 — SP Johan Santana: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, BB, 9 K
‘03 — LF Michael Ryan: 2-4, 2B, R
‘03 — DH Shannon Stewart: 2-3, 2B, BB

St. Paul Sectional

(7) 2019 Twins 3
(3) 1969 Twins 14
‘69 leads 1-0

Although ‘19 opened the scoring with a bang, ‘69 took the baton and ran away with it, hammering Jose Berrios and company on their way to a 14-3 victory.

‘69 answered Jorge Polanco’s first-inning solo homer with a three-run blast off the bat of César Tovar, then knocked Berríos out of the game in the fourth. Rick Renick reached base on a Polanco error with one out, and two singles loaded the bases before Tony Oliva doubled home two runs. Ryne Harper entered in relief but fared little better, as Rich Reese knocked in the two men on with a double before Tovar singled him home.

Harper remained on the mound in the fifth, but ‘69 continued to slug, as after outs sandwiched a Renick single, Rod Carew and Tony Oliva brought in a run each on a double. Zack Littell took over for Harper, but Harmon Killebrew smacked a two-run home run. Littell allowed two more runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Leo Cárdenas and Oliva before Randy Dobnak finally kept ‘69 bats from putting the game into historic levels of rout.

Meanwhile, Jim Perry was nearly perfect aside from Polanco’s home run, retiring the next 17 batters. After Polanco reached on Carew’s error to open the seventh, Perry induced a Nelson Cruz popout before Mitch Garver grounded into a double play. Perry opened the eighth by getting Miguel Sanó to ground to short before walking Max Kepler, the only walk he allowed, at last yielding to the bullpen.

Dick Woodson would surrender a pair of runs in the ninth, Sanó singling home Polanco and Cruz coming around on Kepler’s double, but narrowing a deficit from 13 to 11 does not a win make.

Stars of the Game
‘19 — RP Randy Dobnak: 2.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
‘19 — SS Jorge Polanco: 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB
‘69 — SP Jim Perry: 7.1 IP, H, R, ER, BB, 6 K
‘69 — RF Tony Oliva: 3-5, 2 2B, 3 R, 4 RBI
‘69 — 2B Rod Carew: 4-5, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB
‘69 — CF César Tovar: 2-5, HR, R, 4 RBI

Walter Johnson Round: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5
Harmon Killebrew Round: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5
Kirby Puckett Round: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5 / Day 6 / Day 7
Joe Mauer Round: Preview / Game 1 / Game 2 / Game 3 / Game 4 / Game 5 / Game 6 / Game 7