The best Twins season of all-time ended with one of the greatest games of all-time deciding the greatest World Series ever played. Just like in 1987, the Twins went from worst to first to win their division. It also shared the same distinction as 1987, with the home team winning all seven games. What set it apart from 1987, and every other World Series, was the drama within those seven games.
Five one run games, four games that were decided in the final at-bat and three games in extra innings made for high theater in the ’91 Fall Classic. The first game were dull by this Series’ standards, with the Twins winning Game 1 5-2. Then, Kevin Tapani defeated Tom Glavine 3-2 in a pitcher’s duel in Game 2. Game 2 was also when Kent Hrbek infamously doubled off Ron Gant, resulting in death threats and the greatest bobble head ever made. Game 3 in Atlanta went 12 innings. The Twins ran out of hitters, forcing reliever Rick Aguilera to hit in the top of the twelfth. He flew out with the bases loaded to end the threat, and then the Braves scored in the bottom half to win the game and get back into the Series. The Braves won another tight game in Game 4, scoring the decisive run in the bottom of the ninth to win 3-2. Game 5 was the only blowout of the Series, with the Braves winning 14-5 and taking the lead in the Series 3-2. That game also meant that the Twins have never won a road World Series game, and have not as a franchise since the Senators won one in 1925.
If all of that wasn’t good enough, things got legendary in Games 6 and 7. Twins icon and Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett made the catch against the Plexiglas to prevent a huge extra base hit off of Gant’s bat in the third inning that would have scored a run. Puckett later ended the game with an eleventh inning walk off home run to left center, punctuated by Jack Buck’s famous, “And we’ll see you…tomorrow night!” call on CBS.
Game 7 belonged to the starting pitchers. St. Paul native Jack Morris and John Smoltz locked horns in a duel for the ages. Smoltz lasted into the eighth, Morris never left the game. Though both teams had multiple excellent scoring opportunities, the game headed to the tenth inning scoreless. Morris trotted back out for the tenth, and retired the Braves in order. By the end of the top of the tenth, Morris had thrown 126 pitches.
Finally, in the bottom of the tenth, the Twins ended the greatest World Series ever played. Dan Gladden started things off with a broken bat double. Chuck Knoblauch sacrifice bunted Gladden to third, followed by Braves manager Bobby Cox opting to intentionally walk Puckett and Hrbek. The Braves were forced to play the outfielders in to try to prevent the winning run, and pinch hitter Gene Larkin lofted a single over them to end the Series. Since the teams I root for never win championships anymore, I still watch the 1991 World Series highlights and the 2011 UMD Bulldogs National Championship hockey highlights way more than anyone should in 2017.