The Dutchman takes the top spot

This is the 12th post in a series detailing the 20 21 best pitching performances in Twins history based on Bill James’ game scores. The games are posted in chronological order.

 

Wednesday August 27, 1975
County Stadium
Milwaukee, WI

 

By 1975, Bert Blyleven was 24-years-old and was already a veteran of five major league seasons. He had established himself as a very good pitcher early, and was being touted as a major star of the future. By August 27th of that year, he was already having a very typical year (though somewhat below the standard he had set in 1973 and 1974) with a 13-6 record accompanied by a 3.04 ERA.

 

Despite Byleven’s numbers, the Twins were in the midst of a disappointing season. Though they hadn’t been world-beaters in the previous three years, the Twins at least were able to finish at or above the .500 mark. Before play started on August 27, 1975, the Twins had a 62-69 record that had them in fifth place and out of contention in the AL West. Thankfully, there were teams like the Brewers that could make the Twins look good. Blyleven’s start was the third game of a three game series in Milwaukee, and the Twins sent him to the mound looking for a sweep of the lowly Brewers.

 

Milwaukee sent 22-year-old lefty Bill Travers to the mound. Travers joined the Brewers’ major league club in June, and had a decent 5-7 record for a team that was 17 games below .500.

 

Both pitchers were sharp early on. The only Twins to reach on Travers in the first five innings were Craig Kusick (hit by a pitch in the second), Jerry Terrell (two-out double in the third), and Lyman Bostock (walked in the fifth). Blyleven allowed just a first inning single to George Scott, and had already tallied eight strikeouts through five innings.

 

The Twins put together their first real threat in the sixth. With one out, Dan Ford singled to left, only the second hit off of Travers. Ford was eventually replaced by Rod Carew at first on a fielder’s choice. Carew looked to be caught stealing second, but an error charged to the second baseman kept the inning alive. Kusick was hit by a pitch, the second bean ball thrown by Travers, before the Brewers got out of the inning when Johnny Briggs flied out to center field.

 

Kurt Bevacqua started a threat for the Brewers with a lead off single in the sixth. He successfully stole second when there was still nobody out. Blyleven was not bothered be the first Brewer in scoring position, and promptly retired the next three in order, the first two on strikeouts number nine and ten.

 

The teams exchanged singles in the seventh, and each had a few more base runners in the regulation nine innings. None of those runners, however, reached beyond first base, and the game entered extra innings with no score. For his part, Blyleven became a more democratic pitcher, setting aside the strikeout for innings seven through nine. He made up for it in the bottom of the tenth, however, when after his team failed to score Blyleven worked around a one out single by striking out three in the inning, running his total to 13 for the game.

 

The Twins finally found home plate in the 11th inning, and the rally was started when Travers hit Kusick with a pitch, the third bean ball in the game. A Briggs walk moved pinch-runner Steve Brye into scoring position for pinch-hitter Tony Oliva, who singled off of reliever Tom Murphy to knock in the only run of the game.

 

Blyleven allowed a single in the bottom of the 11th, the sixth hit for Milwaukee, but retired the other three batters he faced to wrap up his 11-inning shut out.

 

Minnesota Twins            IP     H   R  ER   BB  SO  HR    ERA   
B Blyleven, W (14-6)       11     6   0   0    1  13   0   2.89   

				BF  Pit-Str   GB-FB  GmSc  IR-IS
				39     -       6-13    97    - 

The 97 Game Score represents the highest for a Twin at that time, a number that will hold up for two decades.

Box

 

 

 

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