June 20, 2024

Winning streak ends at 6 games after loss to Rays

The Twins’ six-game winning streak is over after a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.

Still, the Twins are now tied with the Royals for second place in the AL Central and have moved within 5.5 games of the top spot held by the Cleveland Guardians.

During the streak, the Twins had multiple games of double-digit hit totals, but that was not the case on Wednesday. They also struggled with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-10 in that category and left 10 men on base.

Budding superstar Royce Lewis had three of the Twins’ nine hits, including his eighth home run in 14 games. But he also committed a throwing error that allowed the go-ahead run to score in the 10th inning. Reliever Jorge Alcala got stuck with the unearned run and loss, while Cole Sands blew the save. Starter Joe Ryan did not figure in the decision, but he still made a quality start, allowing just a run over six innings with five strikeouts.

The Twins go for the series win on Thursday. Simeon Woods Richardson gets the ball.

Extra innings…

-We lost one of baseball’s greatest players this week after Willie Mays, synonymous with the New York and San Francisco Giants, died Tuesday. He was 93.

Mays played his entire career in the National League, but before he was called up by the Giants in 1951, he played in 35 games for the Minneapolis Millers where he hit .477 with 71 hits, 18 doubles, eight home runs and three triples. What does that all mean? It means he was more than ready for the big leagues.

Days after he was called up, Mays was the focus of a feature story in the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune by reporter Rolf Felstad.

“At Nicollet park, where the Millers play, the crowds hollered when Willie came to bat. When he shuffled off to New York’s Polo Grounds and the major leagues, he was hitting .477 which is like shooting a 65 in golf or breaking a record in the mile run, or knocking out Louis. In center field one day, Mays chased after a batted ball that normally would have bounced high against the fence for a base hit. Willie, at full speed, braced one foot against the fence, and ‘walked’ up it high enough to catch the ball in his glove.”

Mays died on June 18, 2024. On June 19, 1954, the Washington Senators signed Harmon Killebrew out of Payette, Idaho.

No. 3, Harmon Killebrew

The (Washington, D.C.) Evening Star on Killebrew:

“The Senators’ big investment in 17-year-old Harmon Killebrew, Payette (Idaho) semipro infielder signed yesterday for a reported $50,000, could click as in the cases of Curt Simmons and Robin Roberts of the Phillies and Harvey Kuenn and Al Kaline of the Tigers, among others, and Washington fans are hoping he’ll follow that pattern. Killebrew could be a key to the future policy of the Senators. … If he is a flop—and many bonus players have been—it’s likely the club will go back into its shell and refuse to dish out huge sums to promising youngsters.”

And then they watched him take batting practice and took a different view:

“Harmon Killebrew staged a highly encouraging batting drill for the Senators’ brass and Senator Herman Welker of Idaho yesterday at Griffith Stadium. Hitting against Johnny Schmitz and George Myatt, the bonus rookie smashed many convincing drives, the most notable of which was a clout that struck the screening atop the centerfield wall at the 415-foot mark. … Killebrew put on a show that made it appear as money well spent.”

Killebrew would ride the pine for a few seasons before finally getting a full-time chance in 1959. He responded with 42 dingers and 105 RBI, well on his way to hitting 573 home runs in his Hall of Fame career.

But Mays would go on to put up these numbers: 3,239 hits, 2,068 runs, 1,909 RBI, 660 home runs and 339 stolen bases.

Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com

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.