The Minnesota Twins captured the first ever American League West title with a 3-0 victory over the Seattle Pilots in front of an audience of 23,700 at Metropolitan Stadium. Dave Boswell, the focus of controversy last month, won his 22nd game of the season with a season-high 13 strikeouts. It was Boswell’s third shutout of the season. Manager Billy Martin punched Boswell out in an off-the-field scuffle last month in Detroit.
Coincidentally, Minnesota took over the top spot in the West on June 15th by virtue of another Boswell 3-0 shutout. This time, Boswell received all the support he would need with the Twins’ first two batters. Cesar Tovar tripled off Seattle starter Steve Barber’s first pitch, and two pitches later, he scored on Tony Oliva’s single to right. Boswell wiggled out of trouble in the second, his only significant jam of the evening. A 1-1 curve plunked rookie Danny Walton to lead of the frame. Walton was replaced by Don Mincher at first on a fielder’s choice. Jerry McNertney singled to left center, and Mincher advanced to third. However, Boswell struck out Steve Whitaker and Ray Oyler to end the threat. The Pilots had a runner in scoring position only two other times in the game, and both times, Boswell struck out Walton to end the inning.
After John Donaldson grounded out to second to end the game, the Twins swarmed Boswell and rushed to their clubhouse for a champagne celebration. “Most of it’s on the floor,” said Tony Oliva. It looked like most of it had been poured over the heads of Oliva and his teammates. The Twins now meet the AL East champion Baltimore Orioles in the best-of-five playoff for the American League pennant opening Oct. 4 in Baltimore. The first two games will be in Baltimore and the final three, if needed, in Minnesota. The playoff marks the end of Detroit’s two-year reign as American League champion and matches the two pennant winners prior to the Tigers. Baltimore won the pennant in 1966, and Minnesota won the pennant and World Series in 1965.