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All-Time Twins Tournament, Johnson Round, Day 3: Championship contenders on the outs

Teams are already on their way to their virtual homes.

Hunter solo HR
The first upset of the bracket is complete.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Heading into the third set of games, four series had a chance to end immediately.

1 vs. 16

(1) 1991 Twins 11
(16) 2017 Twins 6
‘91 leads 2-1

After splitting a pair of 5-4 matches, ‘91’s offense exploded, scoring all of their runs in the first three innings and pulling away for an 11-6 victory.

‘17 kept the score at 4-2 in the second, but ‘91 hammered Kyle Gibson and Ryan Pressly in the third, scoring seven runs while sending 12 batters to the plate. The first six men up reached base, two off Gibson and four off Pressly, including two-run homers by Mike Pagliarulo and Shane Mack. Adalberto Mejia came in to quiet the offense, pitching six innings of one-run relief, but ‘91 required no further scoring.

‘17 did not score until the ninth, putting up four runs off Carl Willis and Terry Leach (including Eduardo Escobar’s third home run in three games), but Max Kepler struck out to conclude the contest.

Stars of the Game:
‘91 — RF Randy Bush: 4-5, 2 R, RBI
‘17 — RP Adalberto Mejía: 6 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 3 BB, 8 K

8 vs. 9

(8) 2010 Twins 5
(9) 1925 Senators 2
‘25 leads 2-1

With ‘10 two outs away from elimination, J.J. Hardy stroked a three-run double in the top of the ninth, giving ‘10 a 5-2 victory and extending the series to a fourth game.

Starters Scott Baker and Tom Zachary had each gone five innings, allowing one run, before ‘25 took the lead in the seventh when Bucky Harris drove in Earl McNeely from third with a single. Both ‘25 runs came on RBI singles that drove in players who had reached base via hit by pitch.

Firpo Marberry entered in the ninth to attempt the save, but ‘10 struck immediately, loading the bases on a double, single, and walk, before Hardy lined a one-out, 1-1 offering into right field, scoring all three runners and giving ‘10 their first lead of the game. Orlando Hudson singled in Hardy for an insurance run before Matt Capps closed it out on the mound.

Stars of the Game:
‘10 — LF Delmon Young: 3-4, 2B, 2 R
‘25 — C Muddy Ruel: 2-3, RBI, BB

5 vs. 12

(5) 1970 Twins 1
(12) 2006 Twins 6
‘70 leads 2-1

Needing a win to stay alive, ‘06 trailed for just half an inning in Game 3, taking the lead in the bottom of the first and pulling away in the late innings for a 6-1 victory.

Brad Radke allowed back-to-back doubles in the top of the first to let in a run, his sole blemish over seven innings of work. Radke allowed only one more hit the rest of the way, and Pat Neshek followed him with two perfect innings in relief.

Their stellar pitching gave the ‘06 offense plenty of space to work, and they responded immediately, plating two in the bottom of the first to claim the lead. ‘06 extended their margin of victory in the sixth on a Joe Mauer solo home run, then plated three more in the bottom of the eighth, the first two coming on Justin Morneau’s two-run home run.

Stars of the Game:
‘70 — DH Harmon Killebrew: 2-3, 2B, R
‘06 — SP Brad Radke: 7 IP, 3 H, R, ER, BB, 5 K

4 vs. 13

(4) 1965 Twins 3
(13) 2003 Twins 7
2003 wins series 3-0

Breaking a 2-2 tie with a pair of sixth-inning homers, ‘03 pulled off the first upset of the tournament, sweeping World Series runners-up ‘65 with a 7-3 victory.

The squads each scored a run in the second inning and traded solo homers (from Tony Oliva and Michael Ryan) in the fifth before ‘03’s offense burst out. With ‘65 starter Camilo Pascual still on the mound, Corey Koskie walked before Torii Hunter launched Pascual’s first pitch over the fence to break the tie. Jim Merritt entered in relief, but A.J. Pierzynski greeted him with a solo shot of his own, going back-to-back with Hunter.

‘65 closed the gap to two with a run in the eighth, but ‘03 would immediately widen it when Hunter hammered his second two-run homer of the game. Eddie Guardado entered in the top of the ninth and allowed only a Jimmie Hall double while sending ‘65 out of the bracket.

Stars of the Game:
‘65: CF Jimmie Hall: 4-5, 2B, R
‘03: CF Torii Hunter: 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB

Series MVP
A.J. Pierzynski (C, 2003)
4-13, 2 HR, 2B, 3 R, 4 RBI

3 vs. 14 (played)

(3) 1969 Twins 9
(14) 2004 Twins 4
‘69 leads 2-1

‘69 knocked around ‘04 starter Carlos Silva, scoring six runs in four innings to provide a comfortable cushion en route to a 9-4 win and a 2-1 series lead.

The first hint of trouble for Silva came with Rich Reese’s RBI double in the top of the first, but ‘69 started to break the game open in the next frame. With two outs and a man on second, George Mitterwald walked, Rod Carew singled one in, and Tony Oliva doubled in a pair. ‘69 added two in the fourth when singles by Rick Renick and Oliva sandwiched a Mitterwald double.

‘04 would notch two runs in the fifth and another two in the eighth, the latter on a Michael Cuddyer home run, but ‘69 added three more tallies off ‘04 relievers to pull out of reach.

Stars of the Game:
‘69 — RF Tony Oliva: 3-5, 2 2B, 5 RBI
‘04 — RF Lew Ford: 3-4, RBI

6 vs. 11

(6) 1924 Senators 5
(11) 1987 Twins 4
-13 innings-
1924 wins series 3-0

In the opening round battle of World Series champions, ‘24 pulled off a clean sweep, knocking out ‘87 with a 13-inning, 5-4 victory.

‘24 scored single runs in each of the first four frames, taking a 4-2 lead into the seventh. But in the bottom of the inning, Greg Gagne walked and Tim Laudner tied the score with a two-run shot. ‘87 had a chance to take the lead when Dan Gladden tripled, but Allen Russell induced a pair of groundouts to maintain the tie.

Both teams had key opportunities to break the tie in the 11th, but ‘24 failed to score with the bases full and one out, and ‘87, with two runners in scoring position and one out, could not push a man across.

It wasn’t until two innings later, when Earl McNeely tripled and Roger Peckinpaugh’s fly ball brought him home, that the deadlock was broken. ‘87 put a man on first in the bottom of the inning with one out, but By Speece struck out Gagne and Al Newman to finish the series.

Stars of the Game:
‘24 — RP Firpo Marberry: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K
‘87 — RP Jeff Reardon: 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K

Series MVP
Ossie Bluege (3B, 1924)
6-12, HR, 3 R, 3 RBI

7 vs. 10

(7) 2019 Twins 3
(10) 2002 Twins 2
‘19 leads 2-1

The only bombas came from ‘02, but ‘19 held onto their three-run top of the fourth to win 3-2 in their third game of the series.

Starters Michael Pineda and Brad Radke kept bats quiet through three innings, but ‘19 strung together a two-out rally to take the lead. With Max Kepler on third, ‘19 knocked three consecutive run-scoring hits from C.J. Cron, Byron Buxton, and Luis Arraez to take a 3-0 lead.

‘02 would respond with a solo home run from Doug Mientkiewicz in the bottom of the fourth and another from A.J. Pierzynski one inning later, but they would get no closer, as three Twins relievers shut down ‘02 bats in the late innings. Pinch hitter Dustan Mohr put a man on for ‘02 in the bottom of the ninth with one out, bringing the winning run to the plate in Pierzynski, but Taylor Rogers induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.

Stars of the Game:
‘19 — SP Michael Pineda: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
‘02 — 1B Doug Mientkiewicz: 4-4, HR, R, RBI

2 vs. 15

(2) 1933 Senators 6
(15) 2009 Twins 3
‘33 leads 2-1

With the score tied at 3-all in the eighth, Joe Cronin dramatically broke the tie, clobbering a three-run home run, the deciding score in ‘33’s 6-3 victory.

While ‘33 took the lead twice in the early and middle innings, ‘09 responded both times, first picking up a pair in the fourth when Brendan Harris doubled with two outs, then one in the sixth on Justin Morneau’s sacrifice fly.

But ‘33 put two on in the eighth against Jose Mijares, and with two outs, Cronin sent a misaimed pitch 424 feet. ‘09 would not reach base again.

Stars of the Game:
‘33 — SS Joe Cronin: 2-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
‘09 — RF Michael Cuddyer: 2-3, R, BB

With two results finalized, the bracket now reads:

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