1991: Puckett’s 1,500th Hit and Scott Erickson’s Win Streak Ends

From the Hot Stove 1991 Series this winter:

Saturday June 29, 1991

Dennis Brackin reported on the Twins’ newest draw, Scott Erickson:

The Twins are expecting at least 40,000 fans Sunday for their annual bat-day promotion. But bat day isn’t expected to be the biggest drawing card for the weekend series against the White Sox.

Twins vice president Dave Moore said a crowd in the mid-40,000’s is expected tonight. The attraction: Scott Erickson.

“Saturday nights are always good for us, but we’re starting to see people calling and asking when Scott Erickson pitches,” Moore said. “And this is obviously the only time he’s going to pitch in our park before the All-Star Game.”

After concluding a four-game series against the White Sox at the Dome on Monday, the Twins will play six road games (three each at Toronto and Chicago) before the All-Star break. Erickson, 12-2 with a 1.39 ERA, will be seeking his 13th straight victory tonight.

Moore said the fan interest in Erickson was obvious during the 10-game homestand June 3-13.

Erickson pitched twice, attracting 25,313 in a 2-1 victory over Cleveland on June 8 and 29,687 in a 10-3 triumph over the Yankees on June 3.

The other attendance figures for Cleveland’s visit were 18,200, 20,677 and 14,171; the other two Yankees games drew 18,233 and 19,178.

The bottom line: Erickson attracted an average of 27,500 for his two starts. In games against Cleveland and New York in which Erickson didn’t pitch, the Twins averaged 18,092.

“Without a doubt, people are starting to want to find out when Scott is going to pitch, and we’re starting to see some of the same thing with Jack Morris,” Moore said. “It sure doesn’t hurt that Sunday is bat day, and Jack’s pitching.”

The crowd, as it turned out, was even larger than expected. From Ray Richardson’s story in the Pioneer Press:

A crowd of 50,525 came to see Erickson go for his 13th consecutive victory. Instead, they saw the 23-year-old right-hander suffer his worst pounding of the season.

Erickson was tagged for 11 hits and seven runs, both season highs, in 6 1/3 innings as the Twins lost their fourth consecutive game.

“I knew someday I would probably get beat up on, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be tonight,” Erickson said. “This one is very untimely because we needed a pickup to break the losing streak.”

Greg Hibbard survived three home runs by the Twins to earn the victory and give the White Sox their eighth victory in nine games.

In the manager’s estimation:

“It was pretty obvious that he (Erickson) didn’t have anything,” Kelly said. “The ball was up in the strike zone and his zip just wasn’t there.”

After dropping their fourth consecutive game, the Twins got some bad news off the field as well.

The strained abdominal muscle Dan Gladden suffered Friday night forced the Twins to put the veteran left fielder on the 15-day disabled list before Saturday’s game.

Gladden was hurt swinging the bat on a strikeout pitch from White Sox pitcher Charlie Hough in the third inning. He was unable to finish the game.

“He’s looking at a minimum of two weeks before he could do anything even if he wasn’t put on the d.l.,” Twins physician Dr. John Steubs said. “Something like that can be difficult to get rid of. We’ll go slow with the therapy for awhile. He just needs rest to let the spasm go down.”

Gladden was hitting .259 with four home runs and 23 runs batted in.

“Dan doesn’t miss too many games, so you know he must be hurting,” Twins manager Tom Kelly said. “He’s a pretty tough guy, but he was in an awful lot of pain.”

First baseman Paul Sorrento was called up from Class AAA Portland to replace Gladden on the roster.

Sorrento was hitting .340 with seven home runs and 50 RBIs in 72 games.

“Hopefully, I can do some damage up here now,” Sorrento said.

Box

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
Minnesota Twins                 75   44   31    0  .587     -   337  295
California Angels               73   41   32    0  .562   2.0   340  306
Texas Rangers                   69   38   31    0  .551   3.0   363  333
Oakland Athletics               74   40   34    0  .541   3.5   357  372
Chicago White Sox               72   38   34    0  .528   4.5   302  316
Seattle Mariners                74   39   35    0  .527   4.5   305  299
Kansas City Royals              72   33   39    0  .458   9.5   321  323

In addition to the end of Erickson’s streak, this game is notable in that Kirby Puckett gathered his 1,500th hit. Puckett came into the game needing two hits to get halfway to 3,000, and did so off of Greg Hibbard. Though he homered in the first inning, it was the sixth inning double that made 1,500. It was career game number 1,142 for Puckett, whose career line looked like this after the game (from baseball-reference.com):

   G    PA    AB    R    H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  IBB  SO  HBP  SH  SF GDP ROE  SB   CS   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS
+----+-----+-----+----+----+---+---+---+----+----+---+----+---+---+---+---+---+----+---+-----+-----+-----+-----+
 1142  5022  4684  671 1500 250  45 118  628  259  39  598  33   2  16  42 109   93  56  .320  .359  .468  .827
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