This game took place on July 30, 1966. It is being recapped today as part of Camden Chat’s retro recap series while MLB is on hold due to the lockout.
No matter how good your baseball team, you're going to lose 50-60 games before the season is out. Chances are, you won't be competitive in all of those losses either. Even the eventual 1966 World Champions, the team that launched the Orioles golden era, could have a bad day. A really bad day. As Orioles treasure Adam Jones would put it around 50 years later: "You suck sometimes."
The bad day for the 1966 Birds came in Minnesota on July 30, a Saturday afternoon at Metropolitan Stadium in front of 27,276 Twins fans. The Orioles must have come to the park feeling pretty good. They were running away with the American League, with a record of 68-35. The Twins had been floating around the border of the second division all year. At this point they were 51-51, good for fifth place and 16.5 games back. The day before had seen a 3-0 shut out by Jim Palmer.
But it was a new day and the Orioles were starting Bill Short. Remember Bill Short? Me either. He made 6 starts for the Orioles before being sold to Boston for the rest of the season. This would not be one of the highlight reel outings of his short career.
Short worked a clean first inning, but then immediately got in trouble in the second. Singles by Twins' third baseman Harmon Killebrew and catcher Earl Battey, plus a walk to 2B Cesar Tovar loaded the bases with one out. Short got away only one run allowed, a sac fly by CF Ted Uhlaender to drive in Killebrew.
The third inning was the same story, trouble early but limited damage. Two singles, plus an error on the second one that advanced the lead runner to put Twins on the corners with no outs for Tony Oliva. Short prevented disaster by inducing a groundball double play and only one run scored. After a flyball third out, it was 2-0 Twins. Two more singles but no scoring in the fourth suggested Short was going to struggle but keep the Birds in it.
It didn't last. Twins shortstop Zoilo Versalles (who gets bonus points for an awesome name) greeted Short with a double to left field. Two groundouts froze Zoilo at second, then Killebrew walked. Walking the guy who led the league in homers 3 of the last 4 seasons is an OK idea, but it didn't work out. The next up, Battey, crushed one over the fence in deep center. 5-0 Twins.
Manager Hank Bauer had enough and summoned Moe Drabowsky for the sixth. It worked for one frame, but in the seventh the Twins' Hall of Famers were back and did what they are famous for. Tony Oliva singled and Harmon Killebrew homered. 7-0 Twins, which would be the final score after Gene Brabender delivered a clean eighth.
You'll notice I haven't said anything about the Oriole offense. No mistake - there wasn't any. Luis Aparicio opened the game with a walk and the next baserunner was CF Russ Snyder, who singled in the seventh. Other than plunking Davey Johnson in the eighth, Twins starter Dave Boswell owned our guys. He managed 11 strikeouts and induced 10 ground balls in the complete game. You know you've got it going on when you strike out Frank Robinson three times.
Twins pitching from this era makes me think of Jim Kaat and Jim Perry, but Boswell was right behind them with the third best starter ERA on this team, 3.14 across 28 starts. He was a solid rotation piece for them from 1965-69. Turns out Boswell was a Baltimore native and drank his last major league cuppa with the Orioles (15 games in 1971), so there's a little good news in this story for our charming city.
The O's didn't let this really bad day upset their stride. They won the next day to win the series, with Eddie Watt taking his turn in the shutout parade, 4-0. More and better things were still to come.