The Twins Almanac for August

9-minute read

August 1, 1953
Elliott Makes MLB Debut

1942 Watertown graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Harry Elliott makes his major league debut with the Cardinals, pinch hitting against Dodgers lefty Preacher Roe, who was coming off four-straight All-Star seasons. (Elliott struck out, but connected for his first major league homer off Roe on September 1.) 

Elliott was just the third University of Minnesota alumnus to make it to the majors, and the first since 1913.

He had some prodigious minor league seasons, but missed his window of opportunity for a significant major league career, not signing his first professional contract until he was almost 27, after a brief stint as a touring jazz pianist, service in the Navy Air Corps, and attending the U of M on the G.I. Bill.

Fun Fact: Elliott was teammates with Bud Grant on the U of M baseball and football teams from 1946 to ’49. (Grant was also a star basketball player at the U.)

While playing for the Anoka town team in the summer of 1947, Elliott had a two-home run game against Gophers football and wrestling star Verne Gagne. (The Chicago Bears selected Gagne in the 1947 draft, but owner George Halas insisted that Gagne choose either football or wrestling. He chose wrestling, and the rest is history.)

August 1, 1983
Lysander Pitches 11-Hit Shutout

Rick Lysander gives up 11 hits and three walks in a 7-0 win against the Angels in the second game of a doubleheader at the Metrodome. The Twins turned three double plays in the game.

Fourteen baserunners in a complete-game shutout is tied for the Twins record. Pretty hard to imagine that record ever being surpassed at this point. 

August 1, 1985
Twins Trade for Blyleven

Cleveland trades Bert Blyleven back to the Twins for four players, including 1984 first-round draft pick and future All-Star Jay Bell

In a remarkable coincidence, Bell made his major league debut facing Blyleven on September 29, 1986, and became the 11th player to homer on his first career pitch. What’s more, it was Blyleven’s 46th home run allowed on the season, breaking Hall of Famer Robin Roberts’ 30-year-old single-season record. (Bert would give up 50 altogether, while notching 17 wins and pitching an American League-leading 271.2 innings.)

August 1, 1986
Puckett and Blyleven Put on a Show

Bert Blyleven held the visiting Athletics to just two hits while tying a then team record with 15 strikeouts to become the 10th player in major league history with 3,000 K’s. 

In classic Blyleven fashion, one of Oakland’s two hits was a home run by shortstop Alfredo Griffin, who only hit four all season. His team record-tying 15th K came against Jose Canseco, who must not have taken enough steroids that day. (Johan Santana set a new single-game record, striking out 17 in just eight innings on August 19, 2007.)

Kirby Puckett, meanwhile, had himself a day, hitting for the seventh cycle in team history. It was Puck’s fourth-straight game with three or more hits, and his second such streak of the season. Twins won 10-1. 

August 1, 1994
Ripken Plays in 2,000th Consecutive Game

Ten-year-old me was at the Metrodome on this date in 1994 to see Cal Ripken Jr. play his 2,000th consecutive game. 

August 1, 2016
Kepler Hits Three Home Runs

Max Kepler has just the fifth 3-home run game in Twins history in a 12-5 win in Cleveland. It was the first three-home run game by a Twin since Justin Morneau nine years earlier. A Twins player hit three home runs in a game just four times in the team’s first 55 seasons, and it has now happened nine times since 2016, with at least one such occurrence in each season except the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. 

Kepler had a second three-home run game in Cleveland on June 6, 2019, connecting for all three off disgraced righty Trevor Bauer in a 5-4 Twins win. 

Eddie Rosario and Nelson Cruz have also hit for three home homers in a game twice, with Cruz’s two three-homer games coming just nine days apart in 2019.

August 1, 2017
Hand Makes First Appearance Versus Twins

2008 Chaska graduate Brad Hand pitches a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, including strikeouts of Miguel Sanó and Joe Mauer, to earn the save for the Padres in his first career appearance against the Minnesota Twins.  

 

August 2
Happy Birthday, Tom Burgmeier

It’s the birthday of 1961 St. Cloud Cathedral graduate and 17-year major league reliever Tom Burgmeier, born in St. Paul in 1943.

He lettered in wrestling, hockey, and baseball at Cathedral, and threw three no-hitters his senior season.

He was signed out of high school by the Houston Colt .45s, made his major league debut with the Angels in 1968, and went on to play 17 seasons with the Angels, Royals, Twins, Red Sox, and Athletics. Tom was a Twin from 1974 to ’77, and represented the Red Sox at the 1980 All-Star Game.

His 745 career appearances are the most by any pitcher born or raised in Minnesota (more than Charley Bender, “Bullet” Joe Bush, Rube Walberg, Jerry Koosman, Jack Morris, Glen Perkins…)

Howard Luloff wrote a great biographical essay on Burgmeier for the Halsey Hall SABR book Minnesotans in BaseballSABR.org/bioproj/person/tom-burgmeier/

August 2, 1966
Hall Hits Walk-Off Grand Slam

Tied with the Red Sox 3-3 with two out in the bottom of the ninth, Twins left fielder Jimmie Hall hits a walk-off grand slam.

Bonus Fact: Hall broke Ted Williams’ American League home run record for first-year players with 33 in 1963. Hall’s record stood until 27-year-old rookie José Abreu hit 36 in 2014. (*Note: “First-year,” not necessarily “rookie,” as in the case of Mark McGwire, who hit 49 in 1987, but made his major league debut in 1986.)

August 2, 1982
Denman Earns Win in Major League Debut

Pitching for the Red Sox, 1974 Richfield graduate Brian Denman earns the win in Oakland, allowing two runs on six hits over five innings. 1961 St. Cloud Cathedral graduate Tom Burgmeier earned the four-inning save (on his 39th birthday).

August 2, 1986
Luebber Strands 14 Baserunners

Steve Luebber shuts out the Athletics at Met Stadium, despite allowing 14 baserunners on eight hits and six walks. Those 14 baserunners are tied for the team record in a complete-game shutout.

Fun Fact: In Luebber’s next start (August 7 in Texas), he had a no-hitter going with two out and two strikes in the ninth.

August 2, 1995
Sorrento Hits Grand Slam Versus Twins

After Greg Harris walks Eddie Murray, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramirez to start the bottom of the fifth, Eddie Guardado comes in and quickly gets ahead of Paul Sorrento 0-2 before the former Twin crushes a grand slam. Cleveland won 12-6. 

August 2, 1999
Pudge Has Big Game

Iván Rodríguez homers off LaTroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado, powering the Rangers to a 5-4 win. Iván hit 29 home runs against the Twins—his most against any team by a long shot. He hit nine off Brad Radke

August 1–2, 2016
Twins Hit 19 Extra-Base Hits

Mired in the worst seasons in franchise history (so far), the Twins set a team record with 19 extra-base hits over two games. Joe Mauer and Max Kepler hit four each, with Kepler hitting three home runs in the August 1st game. 

August 3, 1962
Killebrew Hits Monster Home Run

Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew hits a monster home run off Hall of Famer Jim Bunning over the roof and out of Tiger Stadium. The only other righties to hit the ball over the roof of Tiger Stadium are Frank Howard, Mark McGwire, and Cecil Fielder. 

August 3, 1969
Reese Hits Pinch-Hit Grand Slam

Rich Reese hits a pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh, powering the Twins to a 5-2 win over the Orioles, snapping Dave McNally’s 15-game winning streak. He had 17-straight wins going back to 1968.

Bonus Fact: The American and National Leagues split into two divisions (East and West) in 1969. The Twins won the first two AL West pennants in ’69 and ’70, but were swept by Baltimore three games to none in the American League Championship Series both years. 

August 3, 1987
Nail-File Incident

The man comes down on mischievous knuckleballer Joe Niekro for practicing good personal hygiene on the mound. 

August 3, 2004
Silva Pitches 11-Hit Shutout

Carlos Silva pitches a complete-game shutout despite giving up 11 hits and two walks, aided by six double plays. Torii HunterCorey KoskieJustin Morneau, and Henry Blanco homered in the 10-0 home win over the Angels. 

Despite allowing 14 baserunners (one fielder’s choice), Silva only needed 99 pitches. 

Bonus Fact: Silva beat the Brewers on just 74 pitches on May 20, 2005, giving up five hits and no walks in a 7-1 win at the Dome. He led the majors with 0.430 walks per nine innings that season.

August 1–3, 2016
Twins Score 35 Runs Over Three-Game Span

The Twins score 10-plus runs in three-straight games against the same team for the first time in team history. (They had previously done it in three-straight games, but never against one team.) Joe Mauer went 10-for-15 with two walks, a homer, four doubles, a triple, six RBI, and eight runs scored. Max Kepler went 7-for-12 with four walks, four home runs (including three on August 1st), 10 RBI, and eight runs scored. 

August 3, 2019
Cruz Has Second 3-HR Game

In a Saturday night home game versus the Royals, 39-year-old DH Nelson Cruz has his second three-home run game in 10 days, becoming the first Twin to have two such games in a season, and joining Eddie Rosario as the only Twins to have two 3-HR games altogether.

Remarkably, a Twins player hit three home runs in a game just four times in the team’s first 55 seasons, and it has now happened nine times since 2016, with at least one such occurrence in each season except the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. The most recent three-home run game was by Miguel Sanó on May 18, 2020.

Cruz’s previous three-home run game on July 25 came in the midst of a five-game home run streak, tying the team record with Harmon Killebrew (twice in 1970), Marty Cordova (in just his 23rd major league game in 1995), and Brian Dozier (2016). (Dozier also had a three-home run game during his five-game home run streak.) 

I believe Cruz is the only player in major league history with two 3-HR games after age 39 (somebody could check that for me).

The August 3 game was Cruz’s fourth game of the season with at least 11 total bases. Believe it or not, the only other player in Twins history with even two 11-total base games in one season was Jason Kubel in 2008. Of course the team single-game record is 14 by Kirby Puckett that one Sunday in Milwaukee in 1987. 

Nelly had five runs batted in in the game. It was his third five-RBI game of the season. According to a tweet by Dustin Morse, Cruz is just the fourth player in franchise history with three games of at least five RBI in a season. The others are Harmon Killebrew (3 in 1962), Gary Gaetti (3 in 1986), and Jason Kubel (4 in 2009). 

 

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