Underdogs of 1987 enjoy reunion

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 18, 2007 - 11:29 PM

Former star pitcher Frank Viola said the way the team hung together -- and the fan support -- pushed the team to their first World Series title.

Twenty years later, the Twins held another World Series victory parade.

Members of the 1987 championship team rode onto the Metrodome field Saturday night in groups of twos, on the back of flatbed trucks.

The crowd noise grew, starting with owner Carl Pohlad, the coaching staff, manager Tom Kelly and then the players. Songs from the era played over the loudspeakers, including Dire Strait's "Walk of Life," and Peter Gabriel's "Big Time."

The biggest cheers came for Kirby Puckett, who died in March 2006, but was represented by his son and daughter.

Frank Viola, the most valuable player in the World Series, spoke of how that team succeeded as underdogs, especially against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"The bottom line was they didn't have what we had," he said. "They didn't have 25 guys and a coaching staff and front office holding it together. And they didn't have the most special gift of all, that was the 10th person, you guys the fans."

Troubles in the two spot

The Twins entered Saturday ranked last in the American League in batting average from the second spot in the batting order, at .245, with an equally disconcerting .310 on-base percentage.

For the third consecutive game, Manager Ron Gardenhire used Nick Punto in that spot. Jason Tyner batted leadoff and Alexi Casilla batted ninth.

Casilla has started in the No. 2 spot just once this season. He went 0-for-4 in that game, Aug. 6 against Cleveland. Otherwise Gardenhire has put him in the leadoff spot or the No. 9 hole.

"We've got a young kid in there in Casilla, and you don't want to put too much pressure on him," Gardenhire said. "He's done OK in the leadoff spot. He's done OK in the 9 spot. Put him in the 2-spot and you ask him to do more things."

Punto went 0-for-3 with a key strikeout in the fifth inning, prompting Gardenhire to use Garrett Jones to pinch hit for Punto in the seventh. Punto is batting .203.

Santana plan

Johan Santana has made 10 of his past 12 starts with four days of rest, but he'll head into today's start with five day's rest.

Even with an open date Thursday, the Twins decided to give him the extra day instead of juggling their other starters' schedules.

"An extra day here and there is not bad, especially this time of year," Gardenhire said.

With five days' rest, Santana is 4-5 with a 2.75 ERA this season.

With four days' rest, he is 6-4 with a 3.22 ERA.

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