Metrodome keeps postseason magic for Twins, fans

October 21, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins had appeared almost docile during the first two games of the American League playoffs, leaving room to wonder if the Metrodome had lost its magic. But the Atlanta Braves soon found out that nothing had changed since the last National League team passed through here in 1987.

The dome-maniacs don't have quite the same lung power anymore, but the Twins have a way of joining together with the fans to make an evening at "The Hump" a powerful experience.

Greg Gagne and Kent Hrbek showed why they call it the Homerdome and Jack Morris pitched seven strong innings, as the Twins took Game 1 of the 88th World Series last night with a 5-2 victory.

It was not a good day to be a Brave, at least not an Atlanta Brave. Outside the ballpark, demonstrators protested the club's alleged disrespect for American Indian culture. Inside, a noisy sellout crowd of 55,108 cheered the Twins to their eighth victory in nine postseason games at baseball's Monument to Monsanto.

Morris gave up two runs on five hits over seven-plus innings, finally leaving after he walked the first two batters in the eighth. Mark Guthrie and Rick Aguilera did the rest, combining for two innings of one-hit relief to give Morris his third victory in three 1991 postseason starts.

Braves starter Charlie Leibrandt did not fare so well. He gave up four runs on seven hits over four-plus innings, three of them on a home run by Gagne, the No. 9 hitter in the batting order. Hrbek added a 440-foot upper-deck shot off reliever Jim Clancy in the sixth.

Gagne, who hit three home runs during the Twins' amazing 1987 postseason, jumped on a high fastball and drove it into the

left-field bleachers. He is not known as a power hitter, and he was not trying to hit a home run, but he knows when to step out of character.

"The at-bat he hit the home run, he was just trying to hit the ball in the hole and he hit it out of the ballpark," manager Tom Kelly said, "so I don't know if he knows what he's doing. But he smoked it. No doubt about that."

Hrbek had been held to three singles during the five-game ALCS, but he finally broke out with a double and a homer, which does not bode well for the Braves.

"In the clubhouse, he told everybody to get on board, he was going to carry the club tonight," Kelly said.

Hrbek wasn't so quick to take credit for that prediction.

"What he didn't tell you is that I said exactly the same thing before every game in the playoffs," Hrbek said.

The Braves had heard all the horror stories about the Metrodome. This is where the heavily favored St. Louis Cardinals came to die in 1987. This is where the decibel level is supposed to rival that of a jet taking off in your living room. This is the place where the sky is the same color as the baseball.

"I guess it is a little harder to play here," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, "but I don't think it had a bearing on this ballgame."

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