Minnesota Gives Twin Killing New Meaning : 6-Run Fourth Puts Cardinals 2 Games Down

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Homerdome? The Hammerdome is more like it, considering the Cardinal carnage that has been strewn across the plastic grass during these first two games on the 1987 World Series.

Game 2 Sunday night was much like Game 1--insanity in the stands, thunder and lightning in the Minnesota Twins’ batting order and everything out of order for St. Louis. It was another Metrodome mauling, this by a final margin of 8-4, meaning that the Twins have outscored the Cardinals, 18-5, to complete a half-sweep of the best-of-seven series.

Be it an edifice complex, or just a plain inferiority complex, the Cardinals have had no clue under the Teflon the past two nights. And now, for them, the World Series has become very complex:


Win four of your next five--including at least one in the evil, heartless Dome--or . . . you’re Deadbirds.

“It’s like Sparky (Anderson, Detroit Tiger manager) said after losing the first two here in the playoffs--’We’re in trouble, I’m not kidding you,’ ” St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog said.

” . . . I saw (the Twins) play Detroit and they are a hot ballclub. We haven’t had too many big innings against us all year--and we’ve given up 13 runs in the fourth inning the last two days.”

Ah, yes, the fourth inning. So far, that’s been the bewitching hour for the Cardinals, where close games suddenly and mystically turn themselves into blowouts. Saturday, Minnesota scored seven runs in the fourth inning, en route to a 10-1 victory. Sunday, the fourth inning produced six more Twins runs, catapulting Minnesota from a 1-0 advantage to a 7-0 runaway.

“When I go to the track tomorrow, I’m gonna play ‘4,’ ” Minnesota Manager Tom Kelly said.

Kirby Puckett got the Twins off and running in the fourth inning of Game 2 with a one-out single to center field. The next time Cardinal starting pitcher Danny Cox turned around, the bases were loaded after Kent Hrbek singled and Gary Gaetti, who homered in the second inning, walked.

Then came Minnesota’s Cavalcade of 15-minute stars. Randy Bush, the part time designated hitter whose regular-season highlight was walking four times in one game, came up and laced a two-run double to right. After an intentional walk to Tom Brunansky and an out, Tim Laudner, the .191-hitting catcher, lined a single into left field, scoring Bush and Gaetti for a 5-0 lead.


Dan Gladden, the improbable grand-slam hero of Game 1, followed with an RBI single and Greg Gagne, who began the inning, blooped a double to right off reliever Lee Tunnell for another run.

For the second night in a row, the Twins sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning.

For the second night in a row, a World Series game was considered over and done with by the end of the fourth inning.

“Maybe they’re that good,” Herzog said. “Maybe all they need is to see a guy (an opposing pitcher) once and then they get to him the second time around.”


Laudner, the No. 9 hitter in the Twins’ lineup, went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and a home run, which, of course, is one more than the Cardinals have managed this series. This St. Louis lineup could not even muster one extra-base hit against Bert Blyleven, the Human Launching Pad, the man responsible for 96 American League home runs since April, 1986.

The hunt-and-peck Cardinals exploded for six singles and two runs in seven innings against Blyleven. They scored one run on a groundout, the other on a bloop single by Tony Pena. If the Cardinals saw any fat pitches from Blyleven out there, they were certainly too scrawny to do anything about them.


St. Louis can point to the debilitating injury to their only real power threat, Jack Clark, and to the rib injury that has rendered 96-RBI man Terry Pendleton half a player, but take a look at these numbers: In their previous four World Series games--including three from 1985--the Cardinals were outscored, 29-3. Clark and Pendleton were both healthy in 1985.

Herzog doesn’t blame his offense.

“We’re not pitching,” he said flatly. “Geez, did we make some bad pitches.”

Cox, the Cardinals’ supposed “clutch” starting pitcher--he won Game 7 of the National League playoffs--made many of them.

Herzog provided a breakdown of his starter’s breakdown:

“He had one strike on Gaetti and hung a curveball, which he hit out.

“He had two strikes on Bush and threw a high changeup and that was two runs.

“He had the bases loaded and threw a fastball right down the pipe to Laudner, so there’s five runs.

“I don’t know why he made those three pitches. It’s one of those things, but they (the Twins) didn’t miss them.”

If Herzog couldn’t fathom a reason, Pena, Cox’s catcher, suggested 55,257 of them. The largest crowd in Metrodome history also may have been the loudest and it came close, according to Pena, to overwhelming Cox.

“He lost his concentration in the fourth,” Pena said. “We were just trying to settle him down and tell him to make his pitch. There’s nothing else you can do.”


Perhaps Joe Magrane’s earplugs might have helped. Then again, perhaps not. Sunday, the Homer Hanky wavers were prodded into action by the Metrodome organist, who flooded the air with snippets of “(My Baby Does) The Hanky Panky.” Yep, that’s just what the Dome crazies needed.

And on this night, many of them were armed with high-powered whistles. Imagine the effect when thousands exhale into these whistles, simultaneously and in closed confines.

Imagine the soundtrack to The Attack of the Killer Locust.

The Twins rode this wall of sound to another resounding victory, their fourth in as many postseason games at home.

“We’re on a mission, at least in the Dome,” Gaetti said. “This is what we’ve been doing all year here.”

Puckett agreed.

“It’s been like that all year long,” Puckett said. “There’s no way you can tell 56,000 people to quiet down. And I don’t think they would listen to you, anyway. They’re great.”

Now, however, the World Series moves to Busch Stadium for Games 3, 4 and 5, if St. Louis somehow makes a fifth game necessary. The Dome has been vacated and good riddance, say the Cardinals.


But the Twins will show up in St. Louis with their same lineup and, barring a hijack, there’s nothing the Cardinals can do about that.

And, so, the Cardinals remain wary.

“They’ve got the same type of lineup as New York (the Mets) and the Giants,” St. Louis center fielder Willie McGee said. “They’ve got power throughout the lineup and a lot of guys can hurt you.”

Added left fielder Vince Coleman: “They’re like a video game. They go from base to base. . . . They keep having the big inning. That’s the one thing we’ve got to stop.”

Just the Cardinals’ luck. As soon as they figure out a way to stop the Hac-Man, they run into a larger, graver, more pressing predicament:

Can they stop the Pac-Men?