A battle between the top two teams in the American League West -- The (34-18) Traverse City Tigers host the (32-19) Cedar Park Bears. The Tigers enter play with a 14-2 record in their last 16 games -- we'll have to see if the month of June was as nice as the end of May was for T.C.
Greg Swindell (5-2) on the mound for Cedar Park, while John Candelaria enters with a 5-4 record.
Bottom of the 2nd, Pete O'Brien leads off with a double, the next play, slow Pete O'Brien tests Tony Armas's arm on a base hit by Joe Carter -- O'Brien is safe just under the tag. Carter advances to 2nd on a ground out by Jesse Barfield, and then tags up on a Ron Hassey fly to right. Runners on 1st & 3rd, and Swindell throws the ball over the catcher Mike Fitzgerald's head, Carter scores from 3rd. Tigers lead 2-0 after 2.
Mookie Wilson adds to the lead in the 3rd with a deep solo shot to dead center.
Top of the 4th, the Bears get their first hit by Ron Gant with two outs, the next play Kirby Puckett reaches first on a fielder's choice error by Johnny Ray, as he tosses the ball past shortstop Felix Fermin to second. But that's all the Bears could do that inning, as they failed to score.
John Candelaria strikes out the side in the top of the 5th, and he would make it through 5 2/3, allowing only 2 hits (both to Gant), with 6 K's & no runs allowed.
Bottom of the 6th - After a walk to Dave Winfield, Pete O'Brien singles to right (runners on 1st & 2nd), Joe Carter singles in Winfield, as O'Brien advances to 3rd. Bears make a change for Chuck Crim, Swindell didn't have his best stuff today (6 hits, 5 ER's & 3 walks allowed) through 5 innings. Ron Hassey adds insult to injury, with a RBI single.
With Traverse City leading 5-0, reliever Brian Holton would strike out the Cedar Park side during the top of the 7th.
The Bears would finally get on the board during the top of the 8th, with a solo HR by Rick Schu off of Holton. The Bears go to the bench to have pinch-hit specialist Randy Bush come in for Andres Thomas, Tigers decide to make a switch as well and have lefty vs. lefty in Juan Agosto vs. Bush. What appeared to be a routine fly, Winfield just flat-out drops Bush's fly to left, with Bush making it to 2nd (no outs). Agosto would momentarily recover from the error in left, with back-to-back K's to John Moses & Ron Gant. Dwight Evans would trim the lead to 5-2, with an RBI double. Agosto would intentionally walk Kirby Puckett. Tigers would follow that up by bringing in righty Doug Jones to get Mike Fitzgerald to fly to center.
Top of the 9th, lefty Ernie Whitt pinch-hitting for Tony Armas, would give the ball a long ride to deep center, but Barfield would chase it down. Todd Jones gets save #12.
The Tigers' pitchers racked up 12 K's.
FINAL SCORE: Traverse City 5, Cedar Park 2
Dave LaPoint in his Tiger debut against Cedar Park's Mike Moore.
Top of the 2nd, Tony Armas gets the Bears going early with a two-run blast to left. Bears lead 2-0.
Bottom of the 3rd, back-to-back singles for Rafael Ramirez & Mookie Wilson. Paul Molitor follows with an RBI single, as Wilson advances to 3rd. With runners on 1st & 3rd, Dave Winfield grounds out, but ties the game up 2-2 with Mookie crossing the plate.
Bottom of the 4th, with two quick outs, Mike Moore walks Bob Boone. Johnny Ray steps up to the plate and delivers a double, Boone holds third. Rafael Ramirez makes Moore pay with a two-run single into the left-center gap -- the Bears get out of the inning, but not before T.C. took the lead, 4-2.
Top of the 6th - Things get messy for the Tigers. Ron Gant smacks a one-out double to right-center, LaPoint turns around and walks Dwight Evans (LaPoint's 3rd walk of the game). Tigers go to the pen, and call on Brian Holton once again to face Kirby Puckett. Puckett flies to right, Gant tags up and advances to third safely. Runners now on 1st & 3rd, with 2 outs -- Mike Fitzgerald delivers a two-run, game-tying double off of Holton. Holton would go on to strike out Will Clark to end the inning.
Bottom of the 7th - Mike Moore once again strikes out two batters, like the inning before & appears to be heating up.
Top of the 8th, the Bears couldn't get Rex Hudler in from 2nd, as Puckett strikes out against Dave Leiper to end the inning.
Bottom of the 8th, the wheels come off for the Bears, as Molitor kicks off the half-inning with a single (following that up with a steal of 2nd Base). Dave Winfield hits a hot smash to Ron Gant, Gant knocks it down, dives for the ball, throws it to first, but not in time. Runners on 1st & 3rd, Tigers bring Lance Johnson off the bench to run for Winfield. Joe Carter steps up, and he's walked... no, it's a big strikeout for Mike Moore. Tim Raines steps up and executes the hit-and-run, Molitor scores, Johnson moves to 3rd. With the Tigers up 5-4, The Bears go to the pen for Rick Honeycutt. Pete O'Brien would ground out, moving Raines to 2nd. With runners on 2nd & 3rd, Bob Boone would add an insurance run with an RBI single, 6-4. Johnny Ray would pile on the lead with a two-run triple. Tigers would walk-out of the inning with a 8-4 lead.
Juan Agosto would come in to seal things up in the 9th, as Dave Leiper walks away with the win. Molitor finished the game, 3-for-4, with a run & ribbie.
FINAL SCORE: Traverse City 8, Cedar Park 4
It's Eric King against John Dopson. King is up while Bob Knepper tries to get healthy.
Top of the 1st -- One-out double for John Moses. Kirby Puckett follows with a single, runners on 1st & 3rd. Will Clark smacks an RBI single to right, Puckett will make it to 3rd base as Tim Raines makes an error in right. Eric King looking a little raddled walks Dwight Evans; Bases loaded for Rick Schu. Tigers luck out as Schu grounds into a inning-ending double-play. Bears walk out with only a 1-0 lead after all that noise.
Bottom of the 1st -- Tim Raines making up for his fielding miscue, draws a walk from Dopson. Johnny Ray executes the H&R, as Raines scores all the way from first! The game knotted up at 1-1, Pete O'Brien hits the ball sharp to left, the Tigers gamble by sending Ray around third for home, SAFE under the tag! A single by Paul Molitor, puts runners on 1st & 3rd with only one out. Joe Carter delivers a two-run double, to make it 4-1. The Bears eventually end the bleeding.
Bottom of the 2nd -- The Bears would avoid bases-loaded trouble, as Molitor grounds the ball to Ron Gant for a fielder's choice to end the inning, can the Bears take back the momentum? as the Tiger leave men on base.
Top of the 3rd -- Back-to-back doubles by John Moses (his 2nd of the game) and Kirby Puckett's RBI double would trim the Tigers' lead to 2 runs (4-2).
Bottom of the 3rd -- Tigers add an insurance run in a weird way. With one out, and Joe Carter on 3rd (single & steal of 2nd), Joey Meyer hits one to the mound, and Carter gets caught in a run-down, Schu & Sasser keep throwing the ball, back & forth until Schu throws the ball too high, and Carter slides under Sassers to tag the plate. Tigers up 5-2
Top of the 5th -- The Tigers are fortunate with all their fielding mistakes in this one, Molitor drops a pop-up for the Tigers' 3rd error, yet are up 5-2. Kirby Puckett gets his 3rd hit of the game, as Johnny Ray was unable to anything with the deep grounder behind second (runners on 1st & 2nd, one out). Will Clark hits a single to left-center, as John Moses scores, the throw home is cut-off by 1B-Pete O'Brien, who throws it to third to get Puckett out by inches. Runner on 1st, 2 outs, the Bears trailing 5-3, Dwight Evans steps up to the plate, only for Eric King to come up with a big K!
Eric King would go on to 5 2/3 innings, allowing 2 ER's, 7 hits, while striking out 3 (walking one). Juan Agosto & Brian Holton hold the lead, while the Bears' Rick Honeycutt (entering the game with a stingy 0.89 ERA) holds off another Tigers' threat in the bottom of the 8th.
Doug Jones closes down shop with his 13th save.
The Bears' #2 thru #4 hitters had all seven of the team's hits, with Puckett's 3 hits leading the way.
FINAL SCORE: Traverse City 5, Cedar Park 3
The Tigers are now 17-2 in their last 19 games.