1987 World Series

Minnesota Twins 4, St. Louis Cardinals 3

The 1987 World Series pitted the St. Louis Cardinals (95-67), playing in their third World Series of the 1980s, against the Minnesota Twins (85-77), who were seeking the first championship since moving to Minneapolis from Washington D.C. when they were the Washington Senators. With the Twins set to play in their first World Series, the 1987 World Series became the first championship series to be played indoors as Minnesota played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. St. Louis still practiced the system of "Whiteyball", a combination of speed, clutch hitting and manufacturing runs once on base, but they added a little pop in the batting order from first baseman Jack Clark who knocked 35 homers in the regular season. Clark accounted for more than one third of the Redbirds’ league-worst 94 home runs. However, the speed and hitting was still present and led once more by left fielder Vince Coleman, who stole more than 100 bases (109) for the third consecutive season, and teammates Ozzie Smith (43), Willie McGee (16), Tommy Herr (19) and Terry Pendleton (19) led the National League with 248 stolen bases. They also led the NL in fielding percentage (.982). The Cards beat the defending World Series champion New York Mets by three games to win the National League East and then took out the San Francisco Giants 4-3 in a tough NLCS. Minnesota, however, snuck into the top spot in the American League West having not led the AL in any major offensive or pitching category, though they did lead the league in fielding percentage (.984). The Twins power was provided by future Hall of Famer centerfielder Kirby Puckett (.332 BA, 28 HR, 99 RBI), first baseman Kent Hrbek (34 HR, 90 RBI), right fielder Tom Brunansky (32 HR, 85 RBI) and third baseman Gary Gaetti (31 HR, 109 RBI). Frank Viola (17-10, 2.90 ERA, 197 Ks) and 36-year old Bert Blyleven (15-12, 4.01 ERA, 196 Ks) led the Minnesota pitching staff that also included veterans Joe Niekro, Juan Berenguer and Steve Carlton as well as Jeff Reardon, who finished second in the AL in saves with 31. Minnesota crept into the playoffs with the worst record to date at 85-77, winning the American League West and then they beat the Detroit Tigers 4-1 in the ALCS to reach their first World Series since 1965.

Unfortunately for the Redbirds, they were without the power bat of sole home run threat Jack Clark due to injuries and 36-year old Dan Driessen replaced him at first. Minnesota sent Viola to the mound in Game 1 to face rookie left-hander Joe Magrane, who was 9-7 during the regular season. St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, but the Twins that exploded on the rookie in the fourth, tagging him for five runs. But they were not done as Minnesota collected five more runs, including home runs by Dan Gladden and Steve Lombardozzi, to beat the Cardinals 10-1. The Redbirds were in unfamiliar territory, as the crowd noise, reaching close to 110 decibels, was nearly deafening inside the Metrodome, which also gave them fits, having not played in an indoor venue. Game 2 realized similar results as the Twins took a 7-0 lead into the fifth when St. Louis scored their first run. Blyleven struck out eight Cardinal batters en route to an 8-2 victory and a 2-0 Series Leading heading to St. Louis. Feeling at home at the open-aired Busch Stadium, John Tudor held the Twins at bay as he struck out seven and beat short-timer Les Straker 3-1 in Game 3. Greg Mathews took the mound in Game 4 against game 1 winner Frank Viola and St. Louis gave Minnesota a taste of their own medicine as they pushed six runs across the plate in the fourth and beat the Twins ace 7-2. Third baseman Tom Lawless, who hit only two regular season home runs in his eight-year career, hammered a three run home run off Viola in the fourth.

With the Series tied, St. Louis sent warrior Danny Cox to the mound to face Blyleven. Cox struck out six batters and led the Redbirds to the 4-2 win and the Series lead 3-2 heading back to Minnesota. The Cardinals matched the Twins virtually run for run heading into the six down only 6-5. However, back in the friendly confines of the Metrodome, Minnesota, once again, took advantage of their home field advantage as they rattled off five more runs, four in the sixth and one in the eighth, to win the game 11-5. Game 7 of the 1987 World Series was the 500th contest in the history of the Fall Classic and proved to be a much tighter affair. Game 1 starters, Viola and Magrane, matched up once again in Game 7, making Magrane the sixth rookie in history to start the final game of a World Series. Magrane allowed two earned runs on five hits and added four strikeouts before being pulled for Danny Cox in the fifth. Viola, on the other hand, was cruising as he pitched eight strong innings, allowing only two run on six hits and posting seven strikeouts. Cox gave up the game-tying RBI double to Puckett, the first batter he faced. Puckett was then picked off trying to steal third and Gary Gaetti was gunned down at home plate by a bullet from Vince Coleman in left. This was Coleman’s second throw home from left to nail a runner after he got Don Baylor at home in the second, to become the only player to gun down two players at the plate in a single game. (However, replays indicate the Baylor was actually safe in the second.) Cox was soon pulled in favor of young closer Todd Worrell with one out, before Worrell gave up an RBI single to Greg Gagne that put the Twins ahead for good. Minnesota tacked on a run in the eighth and beat St. Louis 4-2 to win their first world championship since moving to Minneapolis in 1960. Having gone 2-1 with 16 strikeouts and a 3.72 ERA, Frank Viola won the coveted World Series MVP award. This was the only World Series where the home team won every game and therefore did not need to play the bottom half of the ninth inning.