Twins Flashback Recap: Oliva Becomes First DH to HR, Blyleven Goes the Distance on 22nd Birthday (4/6/1973)
Twins 8, Oakland 3 Box Score
Blyleven: 9 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Home Runs: Oliva (1), Holt (1), Hisle (1)
Multi-hit games: Hisle (4-for-5, HR, 2B), Oliva (2-for-4, HR), Carew (2-for-5, 2B)
Top 3 WPA: Hisle .182, Oliva .170, Blyleven .135
Chart via Baseball-Reference
There’s possibly no better poster boy for the American League’s new designated hitter position than Minnesota’s Tony Oliva, so it’s fitting he became the first player to hit a home run as a DH. Oliva, 34, played just 10 games last season and is still recovering from knee surgery and a twisted ankle. Had he been required to play the outfield, it’s unlikely Oliva would have been penciled into the lineup.
Instead, Oliva cracked a homer to put the Twins up 3-0 in the top of the first inning. The Twins added a pair of runs in the second, and chased Hunter, who was credited with two victories in last year's Fall Classic, out of the game after just three innings.
The rubber-armed Blyleven, who ranked seventh in the majors with 287 1/3 innings pitched last season, was the beneficiary of all that offense. He successfully negotiated the dangerous Oakland lineup, recording a clean inning in eight of his nine frames.
“The change up saved me until I could get the curve over the plate,” Blyleven told Minneapolis Star staff writer Dan Stoneking. “Even then it wasn’t a good curve.”
Blyleven capped a memorable 22nd birthday by striking out Joe Rudi and Reggie Jackson in succession to close out the game.
- Read more on Oliva’s historic home run from the man himself via the Pioneer Press’ Bob Sansevere.
- Choose Your MVP: Re-evaluating the 1965 MVP Race | Matthew Taylor
- 91/19 World Series, Game 7: Metrodome Madness Goes Extra Innings | Steve Lein
- Snubbed: Revisiting: Johan Santana's One and Done Hall of Fame Case | Cody Pirkl
- Twins Flashback Recap: Stewart Hits Walk-Off Homer, Mauer Shines in MLB Debut (4/5/2004)
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
- David HK, Dave The Dastardly and Doctor Gast like this