August 16, 2021

Here come the second-half Twins. Just like Kevin Tapani

The Twins recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of the team that won the 1991 World Series, including bringing former players to Target Field. Among them: Twins pitcher Kevin Tapani, who went 16-9 that season with a 2.99 ERA. Tapani started the 1991 season at 2-6 before going 14-3 to finish it, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

The Twins, like Tapani, have mostly played better baseball after the all-star break than before it, (according to my research, anyway) and once again we are seeing a Twins team that appears to be finding its true form, including their 5-4 walkoff win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

Sunday’s win marks the third straight series win for the Twins over Houston, Chicago and now Tampa, all first-place clubs. Up next, Cleveland comes to Target Field, which should be another series win for the Twins, or possibly even a sweep. Then, whether the Twins have truly improved will be put to the test: they play the Yankees, Red Sox and Brewers.

Griffin Jax gets the ball Monday.

Extra innings…

-In the bottom of the ninth on Sunday, Max Kepler hit a leadoff double and advanced to third base on an error, then Jorge Polanco hit a deep sacrifice fly to win the game, 5-4.

-Twins starter Charlie Barnes allowed only a run over five innings, but he didn’t figure in the decision. The win went to closer Alex Colome, who improved to 3-4 on the season.

-The Twins scored five runs on four hits. How is that possible? Tampa pitching issued nine base on balls, including five by Rays starter Luis Patino. There’s your ballgame.

-Not only did Tapani finish the 1991 season strong, he also pitched a career low in walks, issuing 40 base on balls over 244 innings, or 1.5 walks per nine innings.

-On Aug. 15, 1993, the Twins’ Kirby Puckett, as he did so many times over his career, had himself a day against the Oakland A’s. Puckett went 5-for-5 at the plate, hitting two home runs, scoring two runs and driving in four more to beat the A’s 12-5. Despite the win, it was a long season, the Twins finishing in fifth place in the old AL West division at 71-91. It was a lost decade for the Twins after the 1991-92 seasons. They wouldn’t have a winning record again until 2000.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.