The 1970 American League Championship Series was a match-up between the East Division champion Baltimore Orioles and the West Division champion Minnesota Twins. Like the year before, the Orioles swept the Twins three games to none. The Orioles went on to win the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
(Note: Due to a one-day strike by major league umpires, the series was begun using AL supervisor Berry, veteran umpire Stevens—who had been used in a substitute capacity in 1970—and minor league umpires Deegan and Satchell, with the regularly assigned crew returning for Games 2 and 3.)
Baltimore won the series, 3–0.
Saturday, October 3, 1970, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota
Baltimore only had to use their bullpen once in the series when Dick Hall came on to relieve Mike Cuellar in Game 1. Dave McNally and Jim Palmer both pitched complete games in Games 2 and 3.
The Twins enjoyed the lead only once, a 1–0 edge in Game 1. Their only tie was forged one inning later. At all other points, the Baltimore behemoths dominated the action. With the teams deadlocked, 2–2, the Orioles put the game out of reach in the fourth inning, aided by Cuellar's bat and the lusty blasts of a strong wind blowing across Metropolitan Stadium. Two singles and Brooks Robinson's sacrifice fly produced one fourth-inning run off Jim Perry, the Twins' 24-game winner, and the Orioles loaded the bases with one out.
The lefthanded-hitting Cuellar, with a .089 batting average and 7 RBIs to show for his season's efforts, then pulled a Perry pitch toward foul territory in right field. As the ball passed first base it was patently foul, maybe as much as 15 feet. Cuellar himself stood transfixed at the plate, watching the pellet transcribe a high parabola in the direction of the right-field seats. As the ball soared into the 29-mile-an-hour current, however, it started drifting toward fair territory. Cuellar started jogging from the plate. By the time he arrived at first base, the wind had worked its devilry against the home forces, depositing the ball over the fence in fair territory, and giving Cuellar a grand slam.
Before the inning was completed, Don Buford cuffed Perry for a knock-out homer and Bill Zepp yielded a left-field round-tripper to southpaw-swinging Boog Powell to complete the seven-run outburst. Although the O's had an early 9–3 lead, Mike Cuellar was unable to attain maximum efficiency on the cool and windy afternoon and departed in the fifth inning, Dick Hall, 40-year-old relief specialist, allowed only one hit in the final 4 2⁄3 innings to pick up the victory.
Sunday, October 4, 1970, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota
Dave McNally received the second-game assignment and once again delivered another great pitching performance en route to another O's victory. The Orioles handed McNally a four-run cushion. Boog Powell doubled home Mark Belanger in the first inning, Frank Robinson homered with Belanger aboard in the third and McNally himself singled home Andy Etchebarren in the fourth. The Twins nearly erased the lead with two swings of the bat in their turn, Killebrew connecting for a homer after a pass to Leo Cárdenas and Tony Oliva hitting a solo smash.
Stan Williams, following Tom Hall and Bill Zepp to the mound, blanked Baltimore the next three frames and Ron Perranoski zeroed the visitors in the eighth before the East Division champs erupted for their second seven-run rally in the series. McNally's bat ignited the conflagration with an opposite-field double and Davey Johnson concluded with a three-run homer. All the Birds except Blair participated in the 13-hit feast, Belanger and Powell accounting for three apiece.
Monday, October 5, 1970, at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland
When the series shifted to Baltimore, Earl Weaver called on his workhouse Jim Palmer to wrap it all up. The big righthander, just 10 days short of his 25th birthday and two years removed from an arm ailment that threatened his career, was razor sharp, scattering seven hits. In fairness, Palmer was entitled to a shutout. A brilliant sun blinded Frank Robinson while he was tracking down Cesar Tovar's fifth-inning fly that fell for a single. Cardenas' single produced a run, but that was all for the Twins.
A 20-game winner with a 2.71 ERA in regular season, Palmer set a personal career high of 12 strikeouts and issued only three walks. He also laced a double and figured prominently in the second-inning Oriole run when his blooper to short center field was misplayed for a two-base error. Palmer subsequently scored on Buford's double. The Twins starting assignment went to Jim Kaat, a 14-game winner who had been handicapped by late-season arm miseries. The left-hander departed with none out in the third after yielding six hits. By that time the trend of the game had been established and three successors, while more effective, were helpless to change the outcome, the Birds cruising to an easy victory and the AL pennant.
1970 ALCS (3–0): Baltimore Orioles over Minnesota Twins
This was Bill Rigney's only division title and playoff appearance as a manager, although having managed for many years.