Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESWIRE
The 1991 World Series was named the #1 Fall Classic of all time by ESPN. Relive the memories this postseason by celebrating the anniversary of the ’91 World Series games.
The Minnesota Twins entered Game 2 of the 1991 World Series on October 20, riding high after a strong victory in Game 1. The Twins sent starter Kevin Tapani to face the Atlanta Braves formidable pitcher Tom Glavine, a 20 game winner that season.
The Twins struck early in the game, with the help of Metrodome roof and the noise of the crowd. In the bottom of the first, Dan Gladden led off with a popup to shallow right center. Second baseman Mark Lemke and right fielder David Justice both went out for the catch. The white roof forced each of them to keep a close eye on the ball, and the roar of the crowd made it impossible for them to hear each other calling for the catch. Instead, they collided, and Gladden reached second on the error. Chuck Knoblauch walked to put two runners on, but the Braves almost put a pin into the balloon when Kirby Puckett grounded into a double play. Instead, Chili Davis went deep and put the Twins on top 2-0 in the first.
The Braves cut the lead in half in the second inning on a Brian Hunter sacrifice fly that scored Justice. It was the top of the third inning, however, when a pivotal and controversial play occurred. As you can see in the video, Ron Gant rounded first on his shot into left field. Gladden threw the ball back into third, and the ball was picked up by Tapani, who promptly threw it to first. Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek applied the tag to Gant’s foot. Depending on who you ask, Hrbek either applied the tag and went with Gant’s momentum, or he lifted Gant’s leg off of the bag. Umpire Drew Coble called Gant out on the play, although Gant and the Braves vehemently disagreed. In 2011, the Twins immortalized the play in a commemorative bobblehead. There is a rumor floating round that Gant received one of them and removed Hrbek’s head.
The game tightened up from that point through the seventh inning, with Tapani and Glavine allowing only three men to reach base between them. One of the men, Minnesota native and former Twin Greg Olson, made it home on a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and the Braves had the game tied up.
The game became intense for the Twins in the top of the eighth, when Tapani had one out, runners on the corners, and was nearing 100 pitches. Twins manager Tom Kelly stuck with the starter, and his confidence was rewarded. Gant hit a pop fly into foul territory that was caught by Twins catcher Brian Harper, and Justice flew out to left field. In the bottom half, Twins third baseman Scott Leius, who had only hit five home runs during the regular season, hit a solo shot to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. Closer Rick Aguilera was sent to the mound in the bottom of the ninth to save the game for the Twins. He earned the save by striking the side, the final strikeout coming on a called third strike to pinch hitter Tommy Gregg. With the victory, the Twins took a 2-0 lead over the Braves in the series.
Check back at lunchtime on Monday for a Game 3 recap, as the Twins head to Atlanta and the tables turn.