Monday, August 1, 2011

Puckett, Blyleven had a special game in 1986

On this day in 1986, the Twins had a very special day at the ballpark. The Twins were in the middle of a tough season with a 44-58 record and they sat 11 games out of first place at the start of play on the day. For one day, Kirby Puckett and Bert Blyleven gave the 14,855 fans at the Metrodome something to cheer about.

Puckett would put together a fantastic game at the plate and in the same game Blyleven would pass a career milestone that would help to push him towards the Hall-of-Fame. Today marks the 25th anniversary of this fantastic game and here is a look at what each of these players were able to accomplish in the game.

August 1st, 1986
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Oakland Athletics vs. Minnesota Twins 

Puckett headline of the day: Puckett hits for the cycle
Kirby Puckett was slotted as the lead-off hitter for the Twins on this day. He started off the bottom of the first inning with a bang by smacking a triple to the deep CF-RF gap. The hardest part of accomplishing the cycle was out of the way at this early junction of the game. In his second plate appearance, Puckett hit a routine fly to center. The fifth inning saw Puckett as the lead-off hitter in the inning and he did not disappoint by cracking a ground rule double that bounced over the wall in centerfield. 

Puckett would have two more plate appearances in the game and he would need both of them to complete his journey to the cycle. He headed to the plate in the bottom of the sixth with the Twins in the lead by a score of 6-0. Puckett slapped a single in the hole between 2B and 1B to leave him a home run short of the cycle. The last at-bat in Puckett's day would come in the Twins last turn at the plate. With Steve Lambardozzi on first base, Puckett cranked a home run to give the Twins a 10-1 lead. 

The cycle had been complete by Mr. Puckett.
"The guys were a little disappointed in me last time and Neal Heaton said to me, `Puck, you're going to hit for the cycle this time,"' Puckett said. "I said, `We'll see.' I was looking to hit the ball hard, but not a home run. It was a slider and I got it. It was good to have it happen. It was good for me  to be able to share the day with Bert. That's the best pitching exhibition  I've seen in my life. A great job."
Puckett's Stat Summary: 3-4, 3 R, 2 RBI, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR

Blyleven headline of the day: Blyleven strikes out his 3,000th batter
Bert Blyleven would enter this game with a milestone in his sights, his 3,000th strikeout. He would end the game with a fantastic pitching performance by pitching a complete game and striking out 15 batters. At the start of the game, Blyleven had compiled 2,992 strikeouts for his career and he sat eight strikeouts away from this milestone that only 10 pitchers had reached before him. 

In the top of the fifth inning, Blyleven was scheduled to face the 4-5-6 batters for the Athletics. Bruce Botche lined a single off of Blyleven to start the inning. The next batter was Carney Lansford and he reached on an error by Twins third baseman Gary Gaetti. This left Blyleven in desperate need of a strike out with his team only in the lead by a score of 4-0. Dwanye Murphy step to the plate with runners on and the chance to get his team back in the game. Blyleven was able to get the strikeout for the first out of the inning and it left him with 2,999 for his career. 

Mike Davis came to the plate to face off against a pitcher that he had suffered against in the past. Coming in to the 1986 season, Davis was a career .100 hitter against Blyleven. He had struck out five times in his 20 at-bats against Blyleven before the '86 campaign. When Blyleven got Davis to two strikes, the crowd began to chant, "Bert! Bert! Bert!" After Bert recorded the historic mark, the crowd would give him a standing ovation for nearly a minute and Blyleven tipped his cap to the crowd multiple times. Davis had been a victim of Blyleven before and on this day he would provide a historic strikeout for Mr. Blyleven, his 3,000th of his career.
"When he struck out the 3,000th, I was screaming at (catcher Tim) Laudner, making sure he got out there before Bert pitched to the next hitter," said manager Ray Miller. "It's 4-0 and this guy gets a hit and the next guy gets a hit and they're right back in the ball game. You want him to enjoy it, but you also know the guy's heart is pumping and you don't want him to lose track of what's happening. I was thinking, `Let's get this guy out and celebrate later."'
Blyleven's Stat Summary: 9 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 15 K, 1 HR

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Just a reminder that all week I am running a contest/giveaway for some great 1991 World Series DVD sets. They are a must have item for any Twins fan and the contest to get the items is pretty easy to do.

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