Despite a 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Angels on Wednesday night, the Minnesota Twins were hardly celebrating.
“This might have been the most anticlimactic I’ve ever seen the players after a win,” Minnesota Manager Tom Kelly said.
The Twins blew a 2-1, ninth-inning lead and a chance to get starter Scott Erickson a much-needed victory before Pedro Munoz singled to score Kirby Puckett with the winning run in the 10th.
“I really think the guys wanted to win this one for Scotty, but it didn’t work out,” Kelly said.
Erickson avoided becoming the first 20-game loser in the majors since 1980 by pitching seven innings in his last start of the season. He gave up five hits.
But he lost the chance to win when reliever Rick Aguilera gave up a two-out home run to Torey Lovullo that tied the score.
Erickson, who was 0-3 in September and finished the year 8-19, avoids speaking with reporters.
“You never enjoy it when you blow a lead for the starter,” Aguilera (4-3) said. “When a starter gives a performance like that, it’s even more disappointing.”
The Angels were impressed.
“Scott Erickson didn’t look like a 19-game loser,” said Lovullo, who was hitless in three at-bats against Erickson. “He had great stuff.”
Erickson, a 20-game winner in 1991, gave up a run in the third on a run-scoring double by J.T. Snow, but then allowed only one hit over the next four innings.
The last pitcher to lose 20 games in the majors was Brian Kingman, who was 8-20 for Oakland in 1980.
Pedro Ramos was the only Twin pitcher to lose 20 games, in 1961, the club’s first year in Minnesota after moving from Washington.
“He hasn’t had any luck at all this year, none at all,” Kelly said of Erickson. “We had the game set up just the way you want it. Two outs in the ninth with your closer and, boom, it goes out the window.”
Despite failing to support Erickson, the Twins did win their fifth in a row, matching their longest streak of the year. The Angels lost their fourth in a row.
Trailing 1-0, the Twins got two runs in the third against starter Joe Magrane.
Terry Jorgensen doubled to start the inning and scored on a single by rookie catcher Derek Parks, his first major league RBI. Two outs later, Puckett walked and Parks scored on a double by designated hitter Brian Harper.
Munoz’s winning hit came one out after Puckett had opened the 10th with a double, the 1,990th hit of his career.