MINNESOTA 4, CALIFORNIA 0 IN CALIFORNIA
Date: Friday, September 4.
Batting stars: Tony Oliva was 4-for-4. Cesar Tovar was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, his twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth. Brant Alyea was 1-for-3 with a three-run homer, his thirteenth.
Pitching stars: Bert Blyleven pitched 5.1 scoreless innings, giving up four hits and two walks and striking out four. Ron Perranoski pitched 3.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Jim Fregosi was 2-for-3 with a triple and a walk. Alex Johnson was 2-for-4. Eddie Fisher pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.
The game: In a matchup of the first and second place teams, the Twins jumped out early. With two out and none on in the first, Harmon Killebrew walked, Oliva singled, and Alyea hit a three-run homer, putting Minnesota ahead 3-0.
The Twins put two men on in the third and the fourth but did not score. The Angels, who did not have a baserunner in the first three innings, got a pair of two-out singles in the fourth but did not score.
With one out in the sixth, Tony Gonzalez singled, Fregosi walked, and Johnson got an infield single, loading the bases. Bill Rigney brought in Perranoski, who struck out Billy Cowan and retired Tommie Reynolds on a grounder to end the inning.
California got only one hit after that, a two-out triple by Fregosi in the eighth. The Twins added a run in the eighth. A walk to Killebrew and a single by Oliva put men on first and third with none out, and a sacrifice fly brought the final score to 4-0.
WP: Blyleven (9-6).
LP: Rudy May (6-12).
S: Perranoski (26).
Notes: Danny Thompson remained at second base in place of Rod Carew. Jim Holt replaced Alyea in the sixth and went to center, with Tovar moving to left. Frank Quilici pinch-ran for Killebrew in the eighth and stayed in the game at second base, with Thompson going to third.
Oliva raised his average to .316. Perranoski lowered his ERA to 2.18.
May pitched five innings, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks and striking out five.
Oliva broke out of his slump in a big way. The four hits were as many as he'd had in the previous eight games.
With just a three-game difference going in, this three-game series was obviously an important one for both teams. The two teams would play again, in a four-game series, in mid-September, so it's not like the Angels had to sweep. I'm sure, though, that they felt they at least needed to win two of the three. Taking the first one was a big advantage for the Twins.
Showing the importance of this game is pulling Blyleven in the sixth with a shutout going and bringing in the closer, Perranoski. You can't always tell from a written play-by-play, but it does not appear that Blyleven was being hit hard. Still, it was an important game. Bringing your closer in that early was unusual back then, although certainly not unheard of. But, as we've chronicled in this series, Perranoski was sometimes asked to pitch three or more innings, and he generally got the job done when he did.
Record: The Twins were 79-55, in first place in the American League West, four games ahead of California.