MINNEAPOLIS — As a designated hitter in a ballpark that bans the DH, Don Baylor could only sit and watch his Boston Red Sox teammates blow Games 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series to the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.
Contributing, as Baylor did with his RBI single and two-run home run Saturday, feels a whole lot better.
"A friend told me today that it was a year ago to the date that we lost Game 6 in New York," Baylor said. "I'm one of the guys it (the championship) eluded last year, but now we're facing Game 7 again, and the feeling is a lot more positive.
"Last year with the Red Sox, there was a lot of tension in that clubhouse, especially after the way we lost Game 6. We realized we had no room to make any mistakes in Game 7.
"That shouldn't be a factor here. We know what (St. Louis') speed can do; we know they can make you make a lot of mistakes. But we can overcome mistakes here, doing the things we did today."
In other words, the Twins can erase mistakes with the home run. And Baylor wiped out a bunch with his homer, his first as a Twin. Before Saturday, Baylor had 18 hits with Minnesota--17 of them singles.
"If I only play sparingly, I know my home run stroke is going to disappear," Baylor said. "When you play two or three days and then sit for four or five days, it makes it a little tough."
Joe Magrane, a left-hander, pitches for the Cardinals today. Baylor, a right-hander, will be in the Twins' lineup.
On pitching with three days' rest, Minnesota's Frank Viola, who faces Magrane in tonight's Game 7, said: "That's very overrated. I feel great. The media played that up in my last start, but it had nothing to do with the way I pitched. I felt great in St. Louis, but I kept getting behind in the count. When that happens, you're going to get beat, no matter who you're pitching against."
The following sign was raised in the Cardinal wives' section: "Jeffrey, How's the TV Dinner?" It referred, of course, to the San Francisco Giants' outspoken outfielder, Jeffrey Leonard.
Another sign alluded to Leonard's number and read: "OO Jeffrey's World Series Share."
Just the sight of Kirby Puckett, a Pillsbury doughboy in cleats, draws a chuckle, but Puckett looked like something out a cartoon as he stood at his locker with a cluster of helium balloons suspended above his head, tied to his neck with a brightly colored ribbon.
When one reporter looked him over and couldn't suppress a laugh, Puckett shook his head embarrassingly and grinned.
"I don't know what this is," he said, pointing to the balloons, "but believe me, I'm high."
Less than two hours before the start of Game 6 of the World Series here Saturday, Minnesota Manager Tom Kelly was involved in a heated exchange with a reporter from the Minneapolis Star and Tribune over a story that ran in that day's editions.
Kelly approached reporter Dennis Brackin and angrily asked why Brackin had written that Les Straker, who started for the Twins Saturday, had complained of arm soreness.
"How do you think it . . . looks, sending out a sore-armed pitcher in Game 6 of the World Series?" the 37-year-old rookie manager asked. " . . . MacPhail (Andy, the Twins' vice president) is worried. The . . . trainers are going crazy up there (in the clubhouse). How could you write something like that?"
Brackin's response: "Straker said he had more than just the normal soreness. Twenty other guys (reporters) heard him say that (Thursday). Why don't you ask Straker about his arm?"
Kelly: "He said he never . . . said it."
In his story, Brackin questioned Kelly's decision to go with a three-man rotation. Had Kelly chosen to pitch Joe Niekro, instead of Bert Blyleven, in Game 5 at St. Louis, Viola and Blyleven would have been available to pitch this weekend at the Metrodome.
"Are you saying it's a . . . mistake to go with a pitcher on three days' rest?" asked Kelly, yelling although he stood only a foot away from Brackin. "So, that guy over there (St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog) is . . . up, too, because he's going with (John) Tudor on three days' rest?"
Responded Brackin: "It's not my job to say who's . . . up. I was just outlining your options. . . . But I guess I'm too stupid to do that."
Kelly screamed at Brackin, "Yeah, you're too . . . stupid," and then stomped toward the outfield.
This is not the first time in the World Series that Kelly has reacted angrily to stories or questions.
He snapped at a reporter in a press conference following Game 3, in which the Twins lost a 1-0 lead after Kelly replaced Straker with Juan Berenguer in the seventh inning.
Straker lasted just three batters into the fourth inning Saturday and was charged with four runs.
Times staff writers Ross Newhan and Sam McManis contributed to this story.
TONIGHT'S STARTING PITCHERS JOE MAGRANE
RECORD ERA SEASON 9-7 3.54 PLAYOFFS 0-0 9.00 SERIES 0-1 15.00
RECORD ERA SEASON 17-10 2.90 PLAYOFFS 1-0 5.25 SERIES 1-1 4.77