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Tewksbury slows down McGwire with 44 mph lobs
Posted: Sunday June 28, 1998 07:21 PM
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Griffin Tewksbury calls it his dad's "Dominator Pitch." Tom Kelly calls it the "Entertainment Pitch."
No matter what the pitch is called, Tewksbury used it to provide a few light moments -- and three important outs -- in an otherwise tense game the Twins won on Otis Nixon's squeeze bunt in the seventh inning.
"I can't throw the ball by him, but I can throw it slower," said Tewksbury, whose best fastball tops out at a mild 83 mph. "I was excited to face McGwire. I couldn't wait to face him. It was a thrill. He's one of the best ever to play the game."
Even McGwire, who hit his 36th homer on Saturday night, enjoyed Tewksbury's surprising pitch selection, even though he didn't hit either one past first base.
"It was awesome," McGwire said. "I loved it. I tell you what, I'll swing at it every time if it's in the strike zone."
Tewksbury had promised some teammates Saturday night that he would throw two lobs to McGwire, the Cardinals' No. 3 hitter, if he retired the first two hitters in the first inning Sunday.
Tewksbury kept his word, floating the first pitch to McGwire for a ball and then another that McGwire hit off the end of the bat for a weak grounder. After he was retired, McGwire had a laugh with first base coach Dave McKay.
"The first time it was funny," said St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa. "He kept getting outs with it, and then it wasn't funny."
McGwire came up with two outs in the fourth and Minnesota leading 2-0. He fell behind 0-2, and Tewksbury came in with another lob that would have been called a ball outside, but McGwire reached out to hit a soft popup to first.
"I was hoping he kept on throwing it the whole game," McGwire said.
Tewksbury only used the lob once more, and got Ray Lankford to hit an easy grounder down the first-base line to end the sixth inning with the tying run at third and the Twins ahead 2-1.
A gutsy move to use such a seemingly fat pitch in tough situations? Not according to St. Louis starter Kent Bottenfield (2-5).
"If you can control it, I don't think it's so much a matter of guts," Bottenfield said. "It's a great pitch. That thing just catches you off guard. I don't think there's too many guys who are going to hit that pitch."
Sunday's attendance of 29,110 pushed the series total to 93,201, the largest for a three-game series at the Metrodome since May 23-25, 1997. That's when McGwire came to town with Oakland for a weekend series set aside to honor Kirby Puckett.
McGwire finished 1-for-4 with a single off a slow curveball from Tewksbury in the sixth. McGwire also grounded into an inning-ending force out against reliever Hector Carrasco (1-1) with the bases loaded in the seventh and the scored tied 2-2.
Trying to break Roger Maris' record of 61 homers, McGwire finished the three-game series 2-for-11 with one homer.
The Cardinals tied the game 2-2 in the seventh on Willie McGee's sacrifice fly. But after McGwire couldn't come through later in the inning, the Twins manufactured the go-ahead run in the bottom half with help from sloppy St. Louis defense.
Jon Shave led off the Twins' seventh with a bloop double down the right-field line. Second baseman Delino DeShields, who pinch-hit for David Howard in the top half, and right fielder McGee converged on the ball. DeShields pulled his glove away at the last instant, allowing it to fall inches inside the line.
"That ball's got to be caught," DeShields said.
Javier Valentin moved Shave to third with a sacrifice bunt and Nixon, who had a bunt single in the second inning, executed a perfect squeeze to push across the go-ahead run.
The sacrifice and squeeze play were two rare calls by Kelly, especially coming back-to-back.
"I know I've done back-to-back bunts before, but don't ask me when," Kelly said. "Maybe in the minors -- maybe in a dream. It was just the right situation."
Notes: With 68 homers between them, McGwire and Sammy Sosa combined to go 4-for-23 with one homer apiece in six total games at the Metrodome this month. The Twins won four of those games. ... Tewksbury started at the Metrodome for only the second time in his last seven starts. ... Tewksbury has a decision in 14 of his 15 starts this season. ... St. Louis is 2-6 in interleague games. The Twins are 6-7.
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