DETROIT — Minnesota reliever Jeff Reardon stood by his pitch selection to Pat Sheridan, even if he didn't pay attention to the ball's direction once contact was made.
"I'd throw him the same pitch tomorrow," said Reardon, the losing pitcher in Detroit's 7-6 Game 3 victory Saturday afternoon. "It was a high fastball. That's the way I always pitch--up. You get better movement on a fastball up in the strike zone."
Sheridan got even better movement on it, driving the pitch into the right-field bleachers for a game-winning, two-run home run. Everyone in the stadium watched the ball cascade into the second deck, except for Reardon, who stood on the mound with his head down.
"I didn't even see it," Reardon said. "I didn't want to see it. He hit it good. I knew it was gone."
Reardon believed his worst move of the afternoon was allowing Larry Herndon to open the eighth inning with a single to left field.
"If I didn't give up that hit to Herndon, maybe we'd have won the game," he said. "I shouldn't give up hits to right-handers. Maybe my fastball wasn't that good today. It felt good, but it didn't turn out too good."
Tom Brunansky attributed his botched running play in the third inning to a breakdown in communication.
"We had a play on," Brunansky said. "It was a straight steal. I'm not gifted with the greatest speed, but it was a surprise play. I just put my head down and ran."
By the time Brunansky reached second base, the batter, Steve Lombardozzi, had popped the ball into shallow right field. At that point, Brunansky said, Twins' third-base coach Rick Renick called out that the ball was hit in the air--a signal to retreat.
But then the ball landed on the grass, a signal to advance. Brunansky wwas forced out at second base.
"It might have been better if he (Renick) hadn't said anything," Brunansky said. "I wasn't looking at the ball. But once I heard the ball went up, I just tried to get back."
Had the Twins held on and taken a 3-0 lead in the series, Twin Manager Tom Kelly would have started Joe Niekro (7-13, 5.33) in Game 4 today. But now, with a 2-1 advantage and considerable less margin for error, Kelly will bring back his top starting pitcher, Frank Viola, on three days' rest.
Viola (17-10, 2.90) pitched three times during the regular season on three days' rest. He went 1-1 with one no decision. "I was good once and bad twice," Viola said.
Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson will counter with his No. 4 starter, Frank Tanana (15-10, 3.91). Tanana hasn't pitched since he clinched the AL East championship with a 1-0 victory over Toronto last Sunday.
"Frank's been tough his last two times out," Sheridan said. "I like our momentum now."
Kirby Puckett, the vital No. 3 man in the Twins' batting order, is a de-vitalized 1 for 13 for the series, with 4 strikeouts. Saturday he went 0 for 5, never making solid contact.
Fellow frustrated Twins Greg Gagne, Kent Hrbek and Lombardozzi are each 1 for 10. With Puckett, that's a combined 4 for 43 (.093).
Saturday's game started slowly. It was 20 minutes old before a batter hit a fair ball, and it was 60 minutes old before anybody got a base hit.
Banner in center-field bleachers: "Welcome to a real baseball stadium."
The stadium is real, but the traditional red, white and blue bunting hung on the old Tiger Stadium grandstands was cheap plastic stuff.
Detroit's answer to Minnesota's Homer Hankies was a cardboard sign saying "Go Get 'Em, Tigers," printed by the Detroit News and distributed to all fans entering the game.
When Sheridan hit his homer, thousands of the cards were sailed onto the field, causing a five-minute cleanup delay.
Times staff writer Scott Ostler contributed to this story.