By BOB SAN
AAP staff writer
The return of Jacque Jones to Twins spring training camp brought back fond memory of what I considered the best regular season Twins game I ever saw.
The game was played on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2005 at the Dome between the Twins and the White Sox. I always enjoy going to games on Tuesday night, mostly because the crowds are usually smaller. However, with the Twins trying to catch the Sox for the division lead late that summer, there was a good crowd of over 33,000 at this game. And they saw a beauty.
Twins ace Johan Santana was on the mound and his opponent was Freddie Garcia, probably the Sox’s third or fourth starter. Santana, who had another sensational season but had his bid for a second straight Cy Young denied because the Twins just would not score any runs for him (he finished with only 15 wins), was his usual dominating self and threw a three-hitter. Light-hitting utility infielder Pablo Ozuna had two of the Sox hits and Geoff Blum, who later that fall would become a World Series hero (game winning home run in the 14th inning of game three), had one.
However, Garcia was on. He was dealing and abusing a weak Minnesota batting order that included names like Michael Ryan, Nick Punto, Matthew LeCroy (the worst position player in Twins’ history), Lew Ford , Brent Abernathy, and Louis Rodriguez. The Twins looked over matched. Inning after inning, they went down meekly and managed just two walks off Garcia.
As the seventh inning ended and Garcia still carrying a no-hitter, there was torn feeling among the Twins fans, including yours truly. They didn’t want to see Santana suffer yet another hard luck loss or no decision, but many probably had not seen a no-hitter in their lifetime, and Garcia was six outs away from a nine-inning no-hitter.
Jacque took care of that. After Santana retired the Sox in order in the top of the eighth and departed to a loud ovation, up stepped Jacque.
In his two previous at bats, Jacque swung wildly at pitches 2 feet off the plate and looked helpless against Garcia. I was so mad that I was ridiculing him and yelling unkind words as he walked to the plate. But my cussing quickly turned to cheers.
Jacque led off the bottom of the eighth, and on a 1-2 count, swung and sent Garcia’s only mistake pitch of the night way over the baggy in right. It was a no doubter. Twins 1, Sox 0.
That was the only hit the Twins got that night. Joe Nathan came on in the ninth to get his 32nd save and Santana picked up win No. 13.
The game was played in 2 hours, 8 minutes. It wasn’t even 9:30 when I got home on bike and sat down to eat sushi.
In terms of significance, this game probably didn’t mean much. The Twins saw their three-year reign as Central Division champion ended by the Sox, who went on to capture their first World Series title since 1917. But for a guy like me who loves a good pitching dual, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Garcia threw a one-hitter and lost the game because that one hit was a touch-them-all by Jacque.
Welcome back Jacque. Hope you make the club and provide us with more memorable moments such as that magical homer on Aug. 23, 2005.