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American League Roundup : Twins Play Long Ball in 8-1 Win, Clinch Tie for West Title in Dome

September 28, 1987|DAN HAFNER

The Minnesota Twins hoped to sweep the three-game series with the Kansas City Royals and clinch the American League West before they hit the dreaded road to wind up the season.

With Bert Blyleven (15-11) pitching a five-hitter and Kirby Puckett, Gary Gaetti and Kent Hrbek hitting first-inning homers, the Twins did the next best thing, they clinched a tie with an 8-1 romp Sunday at Minneapolis.

The victory delighted a record crowd of 52,924, which kept giving the Twins standing ovations at the slightest provocation. With six games left they lead the Royals by six.

They can clinch tonight with either a victory at Texas or, a Royal loss to Seattle at Kansas City. The Twins have won only 28 of 75 games away from the Metrodome this season.

"After several years of struggling, this was a great moment," said Hrbek, a seven-year veteran, after getting a standing ovation following his 34th home run.

"Everything they (the fans) did, they did on their feet. It hits home with the guys. When we got on the field, we could just feel the atmosphere."

Before the Twins shelled Charlie Leibrandt (15-11) with their home run barrage, a dazzling play by second baseman Al Newman in the top of the inning, already had the crowd in an uproar.

The shaky Blyleven walked Willie Wilson to open the game, then gave up a single to Kevin Seitzer to put runners on first and third.

But George Brett ripped a one-hopper to third. Gaetti threw to Newman at second for the force and Newman threw home to get the sliding Wilson for an unusual double play. After that, Blyleven was in charge, except for Danny Tartabull's 32nd home run in the fourth inning.

"That play by Newman and the enthusiastic crowd inspired me," said Blyleven, who was a rookie in 1970 when the Twins last won the division. "I haven't ever heard it as loud here. The last time I heard a crowd that loud was when I threw a pitch to Reggie Smith at Dodger Stadium when I was with the Pirates. Smith hit it out and I had to walk off the field. It was loud, but that time it was against me."

Chicago 5, Oakland 0--Dave LaPoint pitched a two-hitter at Oakland and the White Sox hit four home runs to sweep the four-game series and eliminate the Athletics from the race in the West.

Ivan Calderon hit two of the home runs as the White Sox beat former Dodger Rick Honeycutt (1-3).

It was LaPoint's first shutout since May 5, 1985 when he pitched for San Francisco against the St. Louis Cardinals. He had never given up fewer than six hits in a complete game.

Milwaukee 9, Boston 6--Robin Yount delivered a two-run single to cap a four-run sixth inning at Milwaukee that gave the Brewers the victory and gave the veteran center fielder 100 runs batted in for the second time in his career.

Paul Molitor continued his relentless pursuit of the league batting title by going 2 for 4, including his 15th home run. Molitor, who already has the necessary plate appearances, is chasing a phantom.

Molitor raised his average to .357. The Red Sox's Wade Boggs, who leads with .363, did not play because of a bruised knee. Except for one time as a pinch-hitter, Boggs has not played since last Wednesday. Boggs, seeking his fourth batting title and third in a row, did not play on the final weekend last season and beat out Don Mattingly of New York by five points.

Baltimore 9, New York 5--The Orioles scored five times in the seventh inning to snap an eight-game losing streak and finish their home season with a 31-51 record, worst in the majors.

The Yankees took a 5-3 lead in the top of the inning on three unearned runs, the result of two errors by shortstop Cal Ripken Jr.

The loss dropped the Yankees two games behind Milwaukee in the battle for third in the East.

Seattle 5, Texas 3--Pinch-hitter Dave Hengel hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning at Seattle and the Mariners pulled into a tie with the Rangers for fourth place in the West.

The Rangers, who have lost six in a row, and the Mariners are 73-82, while the Angels are 73-83.

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