March 21, 2022

A look at 2 standout games from Hall of Famer Jim Kaat

Class of 2022 Hall of Fame inductee pitcher Jim Kaat, who spent 15 of his 25 seasons in baseball with the Twins, produced two standout games (among many, I’m sure) early in his career and at the beginning of a new decade.

On both occasions he was part of shutout wins and homered to support his own cause.

On Oct 1., 1970, the final game of the season, the Twins were at home to face the Kansas City Royals before only 6,000 fans, a disappointing total considering the team won the division for the second straight year.

With umpire Ron Luciano behind the plate, Kaat scattered three hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts to lead the Twins to a 4-0 win, and he drove in two of the four runs on a two-run home run in the second inning. Reliever Ron Perranoski closed out the game for his 34th save.

“I had good command of all my pitches,” Kaat told the Minneapolis Tribune. “Most of the time when I threw the fastball I knew the batter was going to hit it on the ground.”

Kaat finished the 1970 season at 14-10 with a 3.56 ERA.

Seven years earlier Kaat was on the mound in Cleveland on July 24, 1963. He struggled to a 10-10 record with a 4.19 ERA over the season, but on that July day he was especially sharp. He went the distance and struck out 11, allowing only six hits to the Tribe. The Twins won 5-0 and scored all five runs in the top of the ninth, including Kaat hitting a three-run home run.

Despite Kaat’s performance, the Minneapolis Morning Tribune overlooked him and led with Jimmie Hall hitting his 13th home run.

The 1970 Twins won 98 games and the 1963 team won 91 games. I think many in baseball forget how good the Twins were in the 1960s. After moving to the Twin Cities in 1961, the Twins had only two losing seasons the rest of the decade.

Extra innings…

-The Twins, backed by plenty of quality pitching, got their first win of spring on Sunday, beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-0.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli sent eight pitchers to the mound who collectively limited the Rays to three hits with 11 strikeouts.

Among the top performers: Lefty Taylor Rogers was his usual excellent self, striking out the side in the third inning and Aussie lefty Lewis Thorpe struck out four over two innings late in the game. Reliever Ralph Garza Jr. took the mound in the ninth, but then appeared to vomit and was replaced by Wladimir Pinto who got the save.

It was good to see some extra-base hits as well. Jermaine Palacios doubled, Luis Arraez tripled and Derek Fisher homered in the seventh.

-The Twins face the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

-And then there was this:

Hat tip: Matt Johnson of The Twins Almanac.



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.