Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 29, Bert Blyleven shutouts

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1989: Bert Blyleven of the Minnesota Twins stands in the dugout during a game in the 1989 season. (Photo by: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
1989: Bert Blyleven of the Minnesota Twins stands in the dugout during a game in the 1989 season. (Photo by: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins are just 29 days away from Opening Day in Baltimore. As we near that day, here is more Twins history related to that number.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectation after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card team. We will highlight numbers from team history that represent the number of days until Opening Day on March 29th in Baltimore.

Recently at Puckett’s Pond, we reviewed the best starting rotations in Twins history. The pitcher we will highlight today was not on that list due to the staffs he was part of while with the Twins. Individually, he is arguably the best pitcher to wear a Twins uniform. At 29 days on our countdown, we recognize Bert Blyleven and his 29 complete game shutouts as a member of the Twins.

First Twins Stint

Blyleven was drafted by the Twins in the 3rd round of the 1969 draft. The next season in 1970 he would make his major league debut. The right-hander would quickly become a dependable starter for the Twins as he would start 25 games in that first season, along with a 3.18 ERA including his first career shutout.

In 1973, Blyleven won 20 games and also led the American League with nine shutouts on his way to his first All-Star selection. Before being traded away from the Twins in 1976 Blyleven already recorded 24 shutouts in his first 6 seasons. While Blyleven pitched well for the Twins, he did begin to grow tired of the organization.

The in between years

That is what led to Blyleven’s request to be traded. That trade happened on June 1, 1976 when he was packaged with Danny Thompson and sent to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Mike Cubbage, Jim Gideon, Bill Singer, and Roy Smalley. Blyleven would pitch well for the Rangers in that one partial season logging over 200 innings in a Rangers uniform. He also recorded a 2.76 ERA, and another 6 shutouts.

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After another season in Texas, Blyleven would be on the move again as part of a massive four-team trade. The trade included the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, and Blyleven’s new home with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then in 1980 for the third time in his career, Blyleven would be traded to the Cleveland Indians.

Blyleven’s Minnesota return

On August 1, 1985, Blyleven would be traded once again and return to Minnesota. The package for Blyleven would include Jay Bell, Curt Wardle, and Jim Weaver. In Blyleven’s return to Minnesota, he was slightly less dominant but was still able to record over 200 innings in each season. He was also able to help bring to Minnesota the World Series championship in 1987.

Blyleven would pitch with Minnesota through 1988 and would record 5 more complete game shutouts. That would bring his shutout total to 29 over his Twins tenure. The pitcher recorded 60 complete game shutouts for the whole of his career. A career that Blyleven completed with the California Angels who he played for until retiring in 1992.

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We now are able to listen to Blyleven call Twins games on television. A place where we get to hear plenty about his playing days. It is a small glimpse into how he approached the game to pitch as many complete games and shutouts as he did. Today with 29 days until Opening Day, let’s celebrate 29 Blyleven complete game shutouts.

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