Monday, September 29, 2014

Top 5 Wins for Ron Gardenhire

The Twins announced on Monday that Ron Gardenhire will not return as the team's manager for 2015. Only two managers in the history of the game had survived four straight 90-loss seasons. One of those men was Gardenhire's predecessor, Tom Kelly. Minnesota is a very loyal organization but it seemed like the time was right to make a change.

When a manager wins over 1,000 games with an organization there are going to be some ups and downs. The Twins won six division titles in the Gardenhire era but the club found minimal postseason success under his reign. "You lose this many games, you've got to do something," Gardenhire said, "He called me in this morning, I said 'Terry, you don't have a choice here; do what you have to do.' "

There were some important wins in the history of the Twins during the Gardenhire era. Here's a look at the five wins Gardenhire will remember most as he leaves the Twin Cities.

ALDS Game 5 (2002)
The Twins used a strong pitching performance from Brad Radke and an AJ Pierzynski home run to squeak past the very strong Oakland A's. Brad Radke pitched into the seventh inning while limiting the powerful Oakland offense to one run. Eddie Guardado made things interesting by allowing three runs to score in the bottom of the ninth but he got the last out. Gardenhire had led his team to the ALCS in his first year at the helm but it would be the club's only postseason series win with him as manager.

Game 163 (2009)
The final victory in the Metrodome era was a game for the ages. The back and forth effort between the Twins and the Tigers is the closest thing to a World Series memory for a younger generation of Twins fans. It took seven pitching changes and multiple pinch hitting appearances but the Twins got the win. It also helped to have the speedy Carlos Gomez on the bench as a pinch runner for extra-innings. Things wouldn't go so well against the Yankees but the Twins had won the AL Central for the fifth time under Gardenhire.

Game 162 (2006)
The Twins were already guaranteed to go to the playoffs but this game took on a very different feel. During the course of the game, Joe Mauer was announced as the AL Batting Champion. This wouldn't be the only celebration on the day. After the Twins game finished, fans stuck around in the Metrodome to watch the Detroit Tigers lose to the lowly Kansas City Royals, a club that finished with 100 losses. The loss meant the Twins were division champions and a huge celebration erupted on the field in front of those that stuck around.

Win Number 1,000 (2014)
There have only been 10 managers in the history of the game to win 1,000 games with one club. Gardenhire is part of this elite group. The wins were few and far between over the last four years but Gardy survived long enough to pick up win number 1,000. He's respected enough across the baseball world that he could add to this win total with another organization but his final win in a Twins uniform came on September 27, 2014. It was his 1,068th win and the first time the Twins reached 70 wins since the 2010 season.

Ending Oakland's Winning Streak (2002)
This victory took on an entirely different meaning with the movie adaptation of the novel Moneyball. The Twins would also spoil Billy Beane's postseason plans by defeating the A's in October. Oakland went on to win their next three games so without this Twins victory their streak could have stretched to 24. It took a masterful performance from Brad Radke to stop the streak. He threw a complete game shutout with five strikeouts and one walk. Gardenhire had to leave Radke out there for 113 pitches and over 27,000 fans got to see the A's first loss in a month and a half.

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