Starting Nine: Ten Zeroes

Part of the STARTING NINE series
Written by: Craig Muder

The Hall of Fame's Starting Nine includes must-see artifacts from every big league team. Check out the Twins Starting Nine online.

On Oct. 27, 1991, the Minnesota Twins’ Jack Morris took the mound at the Metrodome in Minneapolis for Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

The result would be one of the greatest performances in World Series history.

With the world championship hanging on every pitch, Morris and Atlanta Braves’ starter John Smoltz rolled through the first four innings before Morris ran into trouble in the fifth. Mark Lemke singled to lead off and Rafael Belliard bunted to put a runner at third base with one out.

But Terry Pendleton popped out to shallow left field and Ron Gant struck out looking on 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Later – as the tension built in a scoreless game – both teams had prime scoring chances in the eighth.

In the top of the inning, Morris allowed a leadoff single to Lonnie Smith and Pendleton followed with a double.

After Ron Gant grounded out, Twins’ manager Tom Kelly visited the mound and decided to intentionally walk David Justice to pitch to Sid Bream.

With one out and the bases loaded, Bream worked the count to 1-2 before he hit a ground ball to Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek, who started a 3-2-3 double play to end the Braves’ threat.

In the home half of the inning, pinch-hitter Randy Bush led off with a single and was pinch-run for by Al Newman. Dan Gladden flew out, but Chuck Knoblauch singled to put runners on the corners with one away.

But after reliever Mike Stanton intentionally walked Kirby Puckett and load the bases, Hrbek, lined out to Lemke at second base, starting a double play as Knoblauch was doubled off to retire the side.

Neither team posed much of a threat in the ninth, although Minnesota had two on with no outs before Atlanta turned a double play. After nine full innings, Kelly told Morris he was going to take him out, but after a dugout conference the decision was made to leave the 36-year-old workhorse on the mound.

“I want to know one thing: Who was going to take (Morris) out of this game? Who would have had the courage to say ‘Jack, you’re done’,” Twins outfielder Randy Bush asked Sports Illustrated. “I don’t think anyone would have done it. If it was (Tom Kelly), Jack would have punched him, kicked him – he might have killed him.”

Morris retired the Braves in order in the top of 10th, and in the bottom of the inning Atlanta hurler Alejandro Pena allowed a leadoff double to Gladden. Knoblauch bunted Gladden to third and the Braves chose to walk Puckett and Hrbek intentionally to load the bases with one out.

Gene Larkin would step in as a pinch-hitter and hit the first pitch he saw to left field for a World Series-winning single, as the Twins won their second championship in four years.

Morris’ pitching line for Game 7: 10 innings, seven hits, no runs, two walks, eight strikeouts and 122 pitches. A ball from the game – later signed by Morris – is on display in the Hall of Fame’s Whole New Ballgame exhibit.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Starting Nine

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The Hall of Fame's Starting Nine is a lineup of must-see artifacts from our vast collection containing tens of thousands of pieces that preserve the magical moments and memorable stories of our National Pastime. Our curators have spent countless hours hand-picking special objects from every major league team to create a lineup of pieces you simply won’t believe we have!

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Part of the STARTING NINE series