Buford's Blast Sends Birds to Series

Filed under Baltimore Orioles, League Championship Series, Minnesota Twins, Uncategorized
October 6, 1969

Dave McNally, Boog Powell, Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson celebrate the Orioles’ American League pennant.
Don Buford hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to send the Baltimore Orioles to their second trip to the World Series in four years with a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins. The Orioles swept the best-of-5 series against the Western Division champion Twins. Jim Palmer worked out of trouble and limited Minnesota to only one run in five and a third innings of work. The Baltimore bull pen held the Twins to only two base runners for the final four frames.

Buford opened the scoring by crossing home on Boog Powell’s sacrifice fly. Twins starter Bob Miller walked Buford to open the game. Buford advanced to third on Frank Robinson’s single. After a wild pitch and a walk to Brooks Robinson, Miller retired Davey Johnson to escape further trouble. Minnesota tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Tony Oliva scored Rod Carew from second with a single. Carew reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced into scoring position with a stolen base. From there, Miller held the Orioles to only two base runners until Buford’s blast in the fifth. Meanwhile, the Twins had Palmer on the ropes, but failed to land a knockout punch. In the second and fifth, scoring opportunities were dashed by Baltimore catcher Ellie Hendricks throwing out Cesar Tovar and Ted Uhlaender attempting to steal. The Twins’ best opportunity was lost in the third when Harmon Killebrew bounced into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and second. In the sixth, Minnesota put runners at the corners to chase Palmer. Eddie Watt induced Leo Cardenas to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the final Twins’ threat of the afternoon.

Brooks Robinson homered in the top of the sixth for an additional insurance run, but the combination of Watt, Pete Richert and Dick Hall kept the Twins in check to the dismay of the home fans. In the ninth, pinch-hitter Graig Nettles grounded to Powell at first. The big first baseman scooped the ball and raced Nettles to the bag for the final out. The Orioles team raced out of the dugout for a mid-field celebration on enemy turf. The Orioles celebrated with shouts of “We’re No. 1” and coach Billy Hunter predicted a four-game sweep over the New York Mets in the World Series. Bookmakers agree with Hunter as Baltimore was established as an 8-5 favorite to whip New York.

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