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On This Date in Sports August 1, 1986: Twin Accomplishments

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

It is a special day all around for the Minnesota Twins as they bash the Oakland Athletics 10-1 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. In fanning 15 batters, Bert Blyleven becomes the ninth pitcher in baseball history with 3,000 strikeouts. Kirby Puckett meanwhile was the Twins hitting star, hitting for the cycle. It was the only cycle of Puckett’s career and the seventh in Twins history.

It had been a middling season for both teams, as they were both near the bottom of the American League West. The Athletics entered the game in last place with a record of 44-60 having recently hired Tony LaRussa. The Twins meanwhile were in sixth place under Ray Miller at 43-58. Burt Blyleven got the start at the Metrodome, while Curt Young started for the visiting A’s.

Bert Blyleven came into the game with 3,000 strikeouts in reach. He was born April 6, 1951, in the Netherlands. At the age of two, his family moved to Saskatchewan and then on to Southern California a few years later. In 1969, the Minnesota Twins drafted Bert Blyleven in the third round. He would make his debut just one year later at the age of 19, posting ten wins. Over his first seven seasons, Bert Blyleven was just under the radar but consistently good, winning 20 games for the first time in 1973.

A contract dispute led to Bert Blyleven being traded to the Texas Rangers in the middle of the 1976 season. With the Rangers, he threw a no-hitter near the end of the 1977 season, before he was dealt again going to the Pittsburgh Pirates as part for a massive multiplayer four-team trade also involving the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. While in Pittsburgh, Blyleven part of the 1979 World Championship team before moving on to the Cleveland Indians in 1981. Bert Blyleven had some of his most frustrating seasons with the Indians as he dealt with injuries in multiple seasons before returning to the Twins in 1985.

Bert Blyleven started the game strong by striking out the first two batters, as the Athletics went down in order. In the home half of the first, Kirby Puckett started the game with a triple and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Gary Gaetti. In the third inning, Blyleven reached 3,000 strikeouts by sitting down Mike Davis as he again had two Ks, as he set down the first nine hitters in order. Kirby Puckett would fly out in his second at-bat as the Twins led 1-0 after three.

In the fourth inning, Bert Blyleven continued to dominate again striking out two batters, while the Twins scored three times, with Gaetti hitting a home run and Steve Lombardozzi driving in two runs with a double. Bruce Bochte got the A’s first hit to lead off the fifth, but Blyleven again had two strikeouts, as the scored remained 4-0. Kirby Puckett led off the bottom of the inning would a ground-rule double. He later scored as part of bases clearing double with Gary Gaetti and Tom Brunasky by Tim Launder off Darrel Akerfields to break the game open at 7-0.

In the sixth inning, Bert Blyleven again had two strikeouts to bring his total to ten, as he continued to dominate the game. Puckett added a single in the sixth but was stranded at second when the inning ended. With the exception of the second, Bert Blyleven was striking out two batters per inning that trend continued as he added two more in the seventh. Meanwhile, Brunasky homered to make it 8-0.

Bert Blyleven would strike out two more batters in the eight, but gave up his second hit and first run, when Alfredo Griffen hit a solo shot to make it 8-1. Home runs were an issue for Blyleven all season in 1986, as he was the first pitcher to allow 50 longballs in a single season. In the bottom of the inning, Kirby Puckett homered with Lombardozzi on base to complete the cycle and make the score 10-1. The Twins leadoff hitter, finished the day 4-for-5 with three runs and two RBI, as he had his only career cycle. Blyleven meanwhile struck out Jose Canseco in the ninth ending the game with 15 to set a new Twins record, as he allowed just one run on two hits to improve to 10-10 on the season.