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Q&A: Morris reflects on Game 7 in '91, Bumgarner

October 8, 2016

Jack Morris was a workhorse during his big league career.Including the postseason, he appeared in 562 games, 540 of them as a starter, and worked 3,916 1/3 innings.However, one start, has become the focus of his career -- his Game 7, 1-0, 10-inning complete-game victory for the Twins over the

Jack Morris was a workhorse during his big league career.
Including the postseason, he appeared in 562 games, 540 of them as a starter, and worked 3,916 1/3 innings.
However, one start, has become the focus of his career -- his Game 7, 1-0, 10-inning complete-game victory for the Twins over the Braves in the 1991 World Series.

It has become the standard by which other great postseason performances are measured, and it became a central point of conversation when the Giants' Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete-game, 3-0, victory against the Mets in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night.
Morris discussed the two games in this week's Q&A: Bumgarner's complete-game shutout in the NL Wild Card Game brought up memories of your 1-0, 10-inning effort for the Twins against the Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
Morris: The difference is, they had to win to continue in the postseason. We were in a win-or-go-home situation. It was the final game of the postseason. Everything was done the night that I pitched, and they're just getting started. But what he has done has been off the chart. It's incredible what he has done. What he did in Game 7 two years ago, where, on two days' rest, he comes back and pitches the final five innings for a save after a complete-game shutout in Game 5 was pretty impressive.
Morris: Yeah. I tried to pitch Game 6 in Minnesota. I was ready to go on two days' rest. TK (manager Tom Kelly) wouldn't let me. I'm not shocked with that kid. He's built that way. It's in his DNA. He's unique in that respect. From your standpoint, safe to say that Game 7 in 1991 was the biggest moment of a career with a lot of big moments?
Morris: No question. How many Game 7s do we get? They are just so rare the way the game is played that you get the chance to be out there for the final out. Bumgarner might be the only guy in today's game that'll even get a chance, and (Bruce) Bochy's got a good feel for that too. He had no intention of taking him out of the game, especially once they scored, which is even more remarkable. Most guys say, "OK, you're done. We got to save you for your next game." He said, "No, we got to win. You're going back out." Didn't TK come out to the mound once, but said he got the message real quick that you weren't giving him the ball, so it didn't matter?
Morris: We weren't even talking about that at the time. That was the end of the seventh inning or something. I was in a little bit of trouble. He came out to ask me if I wanted to pitch to the guy at the plate or pitch to the guy on deck and put the guy at the plate on first. We never even talked about coming out of the game until after the ninth inning. What was that conversation like?
Morris: He was giving me a chance to take myself out. He came up and said, "You did a great job. We got Aggy (Rick Aguilera) ready to go. Can't ask any more out of you." I looked him right in the eye and said, "I'm not going anywhere. This is my game." He walked away from me because I don't know if he wanted to respond right away and then went over to (pitching coach) Dick Such. Suchy, I think, pretty much assured him, "He's fine and let him go," and by the time I got there, he turned around, threw his arms up, and said, "What the heck, go get 'em. It's just a game."
We've had so many conversations about that since. The bottom line is, he was concerned about me getting hurt. He said, "My God, what more can I ask out of my guy? He's pitched on three days' rest for four straight starts, blah blah blah." With the regular season and postseason, I was around 295 innings. He was just worried. When you're in a game like that with John Smoltz pitching the way he's pitching, does that feed into you or are you able to block out what the other guy's doing?
Morris: First few innings, I really wasn't paying attention to Smoltz. I was just wondering, "Are these guys ever going to score for me?" I assumed they would. Then I realized he's dealing. When I reflect back and see the game, I realize how good he pitched. I didn't really notice it that much while I was pitching against him. What I really noticed with Bumgarner against the Mets is how, as the game progressed, how magnified a mistake could become, and (Jeurys) Familia was the guy that made that mistake. He was in there partly because the heat that Buck Showalter took for not bringing in Zach Britton in that playoff game. The one inning where you got in a little bit of trouble was the Lonnie Smith inning. What, in your mind, happened there?
Morris: I'll go to my grave with this, knowing what I know. Lonnie Smith's on first. Terry Pendleton at the plate. I struck him out. What should have been strike three is a foot from his bat. The third-base umpire, who's 110 feet away, calls a foul tip. He missed the ball, never touched it. Now, I have to reload. I make a mistake a little bit up. He hits the ball in the gap. Lonnie Smith doesn't score and becomes a goat to Braves fans because an umpire made a bad call. When you're in that Game 7, is it different than other games?
Morris: There's no question about it. It's the epitome of adrenaline, the epitome of focus, will, drive, motivation. All those things. You got nothing to leave in the tank. You let it all out because, like I said, all the other teams are home and tomorrow, we're both going home. It's the end of the year. Any other games you pitched in during your career that came close to the excitement of that game?
Morris: I don't think I ever had so much drive and will ... will was the biggest factor in that game. I remember looking up in the crowd in the seventh inning, when they're just absolutely spent from their homer hankies and all the exhaustion of seven games of the World Series. I, quite honestly, remember the Vikings Super Bowl losses and being a fan and being one of them in the stands. Not literally, but figuratively, I said, "We're not losing. We're going to be here until the sun comes up. We're not losing." I just got a shot of adrenaline from just watching the fans be completely spent. Did you feel it in the aftermath? Did you feel it the next year? People talk about oh, there's hangovers and stuff from the previous season.
Morris: The only thing that I regret is I never did my next-day workout, because I literally stayed up all night long. I had to do "Good Morning America" with no sleep. It was just total exhaustion. By the time I got to bed, I didn't sleep for two days because I was so wasted from exhaustion. Bottom line is, I regret that I didn't spend the next three days doing my normal in-season routine, because I think it took me about two weeks for my arm just to quit dropping and my whole body, my lower body, my legs, everything was tighter. I don't think it affected me the next year. I was ready to go the next spring.

Tracy Ringolsby is a national columnist for