1986: Puckett and Blyleven

August 1, 1986

From Howard Sinker’s game story in the August 2 Strib:

The crowd caught on early, clapping in expectation when Bert Blyleven had two strikes on an Oakland batter, which was often. After striking out Mike Davis on a curve in the fifth, the 3,000th strikeout of Blyleven’s career, the fans took to chanting, “Bert! Bert! Bert!” as the strikeouts piled up.

In the eighth and ninth innings, most of the 14,855 were standing and clapping, chanting and cheering when another A’s victim was about to swing at or watch a third strike. “One more Bert! One more Bert!” more than a few of them called out.

When Tony Phillips struck out on a fastball to end the eighth, Blyleven tied the personal best he’d set with the Twins in 1974 and equaled with Texas in 1977. When Jose Canseco struck out for the second out in the ninth, Blyleven tied a team record set by three others in the franchise’s 25 1/2-year history.

Fifteen strikeouts and a two-hitter belonged to Blyleven on Friday night as he became only the 10th pitcher in major league history to reach 3,000 strikeouts.

Somewhat lost in the shuffle due to Blyleven’s historic game was the fact that, in the same game, Kirby Puckett became the seventh Twin to hit for the cycle in the 10-1 Twins win. He was the first Twins player to hit for the cycle since Gary Ward had done it in 1980, and would be the last until Carlos Gomez did it in 2008.

Just two days earlier, Puckett had come to the plate needing only a home run to complete the cycle. He struck out that time. The exact situation repeated itself against the A’s:

“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.”

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