Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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There’s an ongoing debate that MLB only wants people to buy their tickets from the box office and that baseball ticket brokers should be avoided. The problem is, only the best tickets are available from brokers so if I want the best seats, that’s where I’ll have to keep going.
It’s getting close to that time of the year when the Hall vote is revealed. My guess is that Goose Gossage gets in with Bert Blyleven making a jump to where he finally gets his rightful place as an inductee. Two 1984 Tigers are still on the ballot with Alan Trammell and Jack Morris staying alive. Both are Hall worthy in my estimation and the fact that Tram is near the low end of the voting is a complete disappointment. Trammell actually has a higher Eqa then Cal Ripken, Jr. (.274 vs. .273) it’s just a shame that he never hit any of the big marks and he’s now being held to a high standard then when Tram was playing.
Morris is a solid choice as well although it’s hard to put him in until Blyleven gets the nod. Still, it wouldn’t kill the voters to put either of those guys in. And for a great look at Trammell and how he feels about his Hall chances, you should check out this column by Jason Beck.
Lou Pinella announced that Alan Trammell would be his bench coach for the Cubs next season. I always thought Tram got a raw deal in Detroit and I’m glad he’s getting another chance, and this time in a major media market. I know it’s not a head coaching job but I’d expect he’ll be back in charge of a team within the next five years.
Alan Trammell’s former staff is slowly finding its way back into baseball after they were all let go when Jim Leyland was brought on. Lance Parrish was recently hired to become the manager of the Dodgers new Single-A affiliate, the Great Lakes Loons. The Loons will be playing in a brand new stadium in Midland, Michigan in 2007. The Dodgers have had one of the better farm systems the past few years and I’d like to go up for a game and check these guys out over the summer. Also interested in seeing what the new stadium looks like.
The Hall of Fame voting results are announced this Tuesday. Once again, I’m fully expected to be disappointed over any gains Alan Trammell or Jack Morris might have made. Players need to be on 75% of the ballots and last year, Tram received 16.9% and Morris received 33.3%. This year, there’s really nobody new to the ballot that I see getting in, although I think Will Clark will get a decent showing. Things are wide open for the players who were on the short end last year.
Bruce Sutter received the most votes of those who didn’t get in at 66.7%. I think he’s got a solid chance at making it this year although personally, I’d like to see Rich Gossage get in before Sutter. Gossage pitched 800 more innings and had almost twice as many strikeouts even if you take out Gossage’s 1976 season when he failed to make it as a starter. And their ERAs aren’t that far off. Gossage pitched 22 years, and in some ways (similar to Bert Blyleven) this might be hurting him. His last ten seasons were nothing special but he had some truly historic seasons. In Baseball Prospectus 2005, there was a section on Win Expectancy and there were lists of the top 20 best relief seasons. Gossage shows up at number 10 and number 18, while Sutter shows up at 16 and 19.
So Gossage pitched longer and when you compare their two best seasons, Gossage comes out on top. So while I think Sutter is a solid candidate, I don’t see how he’s “that” much better then Gossage to warrant almost 60 more votes.
Next on the list is Jim Rice at 59.5%. The knock on Rice is he didn’t hit any of the big milestones. He fell short of 400 homeruns (383) and 1,500 RBIs (1,451). He also missed out on a .300 career batting average (his is .298). But from 1978 through 1985, he had some truly outstanding seasons. Throw in an MVP which the voters seem to like and six top ten finishes and you have a guy that at least warrants consideration.
There’s one problem. You have a guy near the bottom of last year’s ballot who has similar numbers and only garnered 10.5% of the vote. Dale Murphy has more homeruns (398) and more MVPs (2). He wasn’t as good of a hitter (.265) but he got on base at almost the same clip as Rice (.346 for Murphy, .352 for Rice). Their OPS are also very similar and only about 300 at bats seperate the two.
Even more confusing is you have a guy who hit more homeruns and drove in more runs then either Rice or Murphy in Andre Dawson who only garnered 52.3%. The big knock on Dawson is his career .323 OBP but Dawson wasn’t a hacker either (he struck out more then 100 times on four occassions).
Then we come to the biggest quandry on the ballot, Bert Blyleven. Rich Lederer has pretty much made it personal in his lobbying for Blyleven and I can’t really blame him. He got 40.9% of the vote last year and it’s a downright travesty because Blyleven deserves to be in there. His biggest knock is his great seasons came early, he never won a Cy Young and he gave up a bunch of homeruns. Also, he fell just short of 300 wins, mostly because he played for some bad teams. Heck, he only made two All-Star games. But he’s fifth in strikeouts with 3,701.
So until Blyleven gets in, I really can’t justify Morris getting the nod. Trammell should be getting enshrined this year, but he’ll be lucky to be on 25% of the ballots. For more on Tram, check out Detroit Tigers Weblog as Bilfer’s been tracking his chances.
In the end, I think Bruce Sutter and Rich Gossage will both get in this year. I think Jim Rice will fall short as will Andre Dawson. And Bert Blyleven will once again be denied, but I think for the first time he’ll top 50%.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame website has all of the ballots and voting. It’s interesting to see some of the guys near the bottom who actually got votes. Terry Steinbach and Tony Phillips each showed up on one ballot. Tom Candiotti and Jeff Montgomery each got two. I’m kind of curious to see the complete ballots of those the people who voted for anyone one of those four to see who they might have left off.
The trade seemed pretty innocent at the time. Near the end of spring training, the Tigers parted ways with Glenn Wilson and John Wockenfuss, and got in return Dave Bergman and Willie Hernandez. Bergman started more games at first base then any other Tiger, and we all know Hernandez went on to win the Cy Young and MVP.
Hernandez wasn’t your typical closer. He threw in 140 1/3 innings, and on 15 different occasions, he threw three innings or more. You’d be hard pressed to find a more effective relief combination then Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez. Ever. They combined for almost 280 innings, and went a combined 19-4 with 46 saves.
Let’s take a look at Hernandez’s (fantastic) numbers:
Innings Pitched 140 1/3
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 78
I’ll let you go read those numbers again, just because they’re so impressive. What’s a little ironic is this isn’t even the best season a Tiger reliever’s ever had. That’s reserved for John Hiller in 1973.
No offense to Rawly Eastwick, but he never stood a chance. Not even a snowball’s chance in hell.
Scorecard – 1984 Tigers 8, 1975 Reds 7
Well, what do you know. It’s the first time in this entire debate where the Tigers have had the lead. And unfortunately for the Reds, it’s the most important because we’ve finally wrapped this up.
We all knew who had the better team anyway.
I took some heat for my last post on Tram when I said he should be given one more year. First off, I apologize about the error. They were 26-26 in two runs games, not in games decided by less then two runs. All I was trying to show here was one of many indicators that the Tigers have been “okay” in close games.
I guess the main reason why I think Tram should be given another year is, he’s never been given the tools to win. We’ve been trying to rebuild since 2002 (actually, it’s a lot longer then that, but 2002 would be when the “current” rebuilding began) and we were starting from rock bottom. Even this year, when many (including myself) thought the Tigers might get over the hump, the Tigers really don’t have what it takes to win in our division much less securing a playoff spot. It goes to show you when Chris Shelton is your best hitter. While he’s had a solid season, I just don’t see him more then a “good” player on any team that’s in the playoff mix.
And while our rotation has done better then anyone would have expected, it’s still not much better then average. Kyle Farnsworth still leads our team in Runs Saved Above Average (10), and unless Bonderman (7) has a strong finish, Farnsworth could end up the team leader at season end.
I’d just like to see Tram be given a chance with a playoff contending team. If he falls on his face and doesn’t get the job done (a la Larry Bowa), then I’d feel safe about replacing him.
Two managers who come to mind that I would consider putting in Tram’s place would be Davey Johnson (who looks like he’ll be heading up the Orioles again) and Jim Leyland (not sure what his situation is, but he’ll be 61 in December). Both are proven winners and each have World Series rings. One of the readers mentioned Larry Dierker and he’d also be a definite upgrade. I am curious to know why he hasn’t found work since leaving Houston though. He did suffer from a seizure in the dugout, but that was 1999. He went on to have a few more successful years after that.
But outside of securing a handful of proven commodities, I’d like to see Tram in the dugout, and I’d also like to see how he could a handle a more talented team.
I finished David Wells autobiography “Perfect I’m Not.” It really was a great read. Just a good baseball book. And I dare someone to read it and not come away a David Wells fan or (I can hear the groans already) a Yankees Fan. Yes, they have obnoxious fans, but David Wells really paints the team in a favorable light.
I’m also reading John Helyar’s “Lords of the Reams,” which is a fantastic look at the business of baseball. I’m also 200 pages into David McCullough’s tome/biography of Harry Truman. Finally, I started another good read called “Wedding of the Waters” by Peter Bernstein. It’s a look at the construction fo the Erie Canal and it’s effect on our nation.
The Tigers took two today at KC after a tough series in Toronto. The World Champs come to town next for a three game series.
the Tigers have now lost eight of their last ten and nine of their last twelve. It’s definitely been a rough week for the Tigers, and I have a feeling we’ll start hearing (again) fans call for Trammell’s job.
Personally, I’d like to see what Tram can do next year. I don’t think there’s a likely replacement for him so there’s no sense in letting him go. The Tigers are 26-26 in games decided by less then two runs (through 8/6) so it’s not like he’s “blown” a lot of close games either. And while I know the manager is pretty much responsible for everything, it seemed like a tale of two seasons. In the first half, the pitching staff did well but the offense didn’t (give some credit to Bob Cluck). This half, the offense has done a little better, but the pitching has tapered off (which was somewhat expected, because none of our guys have really been tested as far as durability).
So I’m just as inclined to give him one more chance. Hopefully we’ll have a full season of Magglio Ordonez and a full season of Chris Shelton. Another good arm would be nice, as would Hideki Matsui (wishful thinking).
This weekend was the inaugural Negro League appreciation weekend. I went last year and it was cool watching the Tigers play in the old Detroit Stars uniforms. If you’d like to check out more information on the Stars, be sure to check Negroleaguebaseball.com.
The diary took a break because of some rainouts, and the Tigers will continue their pennant race tomorrow. A big series with the Yankees is coming up in about a week and a half.
The writing was on the wall, and it became official today. Alan Trammell was offered a job with the organization as Special Assistant to the GM, but he’ll no longer be the skipper of the Tigers.
I know I’ve taken some heat for defending Trammell. While I know at times his decision making has been questionable, I never thought he was given the support and tools to win. Which is why I was calling for management to give him one more year at the helm.
Now the search for a new manager begins, with Jim Leyland being the odds on favorite. Although he’ll be courted by Pittsburgh as well, so we’ll see what happens. I wouldn’t mind Bruce Fields getting another shot as well.
Senior Smoke had one of the more underappreciated careers of any Tiger in 1980s. He emerged as the Tigers’ closer in the last 70s, and his best season might have been 1979, when he finished seventh in the Cy Young. By 1981, he had lost the closer job to Kevin Saucier, and later, Dave Tobik until he picked it back up in 1983 and made the All-Star team.
His 1984 season was nothing short of fantastic. He set a career high by pitching in 137 2/3 innings (unheard of by a reliever these days), and posted a near perfect 10-1 record, with his only loss coming in the final week of the season. If there was one fault to Lopez’s game, it was his propensity to give up the long ball. But he finished his career with an impressive 62-36 career record, while racking up 93 saves.
Here’s Lopez’s 1984 numbers:
Innings Pitched 137 2/3
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 43
Both his PRAR and his Stuff were hurt because of his homer rate, but this is an impressive season for a reliever by any standard. The fact that he was the second best reliever on the team that year means Sparky had two outstanding arms coming out of the pen.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 7
Sparky loved his relievers. Throughout “Bless You Boys,” the one thing Sparky constantly talks about is how he needs Bill Lajoie to go out and get him another left handed reliever. And in my opinion, nobody knew how to utilize his bullpen better then Captain Hook.
Through the end of July, Doug Bair was right there with Aurelio Lopez, and to a lesser extent, was as effective as Willie Hernandez. Through 65 innings, he had a 1.077 WHIP and an ERA of 3.05. Then in his first game in August, the wheels fell off the wagon, and he gave up two runs in only 1/3 of an inning. He had three more rough outings before recovering near the middle of the month. Fortunately during his rough stretch, the Tigers had a lead over the Blue Jays of just under ten games, but he ended the month with a 2.152 WHIP and an 8.80 ERA. He then went on to be lights out in September.
Let’s take a look at Bair’s season numbers..
Innings Pitched 93 2/3
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 21
On the face of things, I’d say Clay Carroll looks better. But Bair was as good, if not better, when things counted during the beginning of the year. Since we’re looking at the entire season, I guess I have to concede.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 6
A part of just about any championship team includes a career year or two. Juan Berenguer fell into that mix. Berenguer’s career spanned fifteen years and was pretty unspectacular. He played for seven different teams, and went from being a starter, to a spot starter/middle reliever, to a reliever, doing well but not exceptional everywhere he went. His best role seemed to be as a reliever, when he pitched for Twins and helped them win their championship in 1987.
While he didn’t log an inning in the post season, Juan Berenguer started 27 games for Sparky and won 11 of them. He looked great at times, but also took his share of beatings. But in the end, he had one of the better strikeout rates on the team, and was one of Sparky’s hardest throwers.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Innings Pitched 168 1/3
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 43
Berenguer gave up his share of walks, but he also was pretty good at not letting the ball go over the fence. All in all, he gave the Tigers a nice option as a number four starter, and in my opinion, would mop the floor with Fred Norman if they went head to head.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 6, 1984 Tigers 6
Also, a quick postscript. Berenguer pitched in four of the five games for the Twins in the ALCS, taking the Tigers to task. I’ve never completely forgiven him for this.
Championship teams usually consist of a convergance between an improving core of young players with a handful of career years from a couple of your veterans. Milt Wilcox had a 16 year career in baseball, and he never won three games more then he lost in a season. Had it not been for his 17-8 campaign in 1984, he would have ended his career with a losing record. Simply put, in 1984, Milt Wilcox came out to pitch, and pitch he did.
He also saved his best for the end of the season. In game three of the ALCS against the Royals, Wilcox gave up only two hits in eight innings of shutout ball to put the Tigers into the World Series.
Let’s take a look at how he did in 1984:
Innings Pitched 193 2/3
Pitching Runs Above Average 37
If you take a look at the differences between Jack Morris, Dan Petry, and Milt Wilcox, you won’t many. Wilcox threw around 40 innings less then both of them, but when he was in there, he was equally effective. In fact, their strikeout rates are nearly identical, with the best (Petry) just .02 SO/9 better then the worst (Wilcox).
At first glance, I thought this one was going to be a lot tighter, but it’s really no contest. Billingham threw a few more innings, but that’s about all you can say.
Scorecard 1975 Reds 6, 1984 Tigers 5
Dan Petry had one of those typical 1980s career. He pitched a ton of innings at an early age, and went from looking like an ace to someone who’s just a little overmatched. From 1982 through 1985, he pitched no less 233 innings and won no less then 15 games. After that, he never pitched more then a 150 innings, and never won more then ten.
1984 was a great year for Petry. Coming off a 19-11 season the year before, Dan really picked up the slack when Jack Morris struggled. He had a career high 144 strikeouts during the season, and led all starters in ERA (3.24).
Dan Petry is now the television announcer here for UPN 50. He did a nice job last year in his first season, and I’m looking forward to him being back this year.
Anyway, here’s the numbers:
Pitching Runs above Replacement 65
This may be the toughest one yet. Petry threw more, had a better walk rate, and won more games. Don Gullett won 15 games in only 22 starts (so three less, but in a third of the of starts). Their Stuff is identical, and their SO/9 is nearly identical, but Gullett has a better ERA and WHIP, and gave up fewer homers.
I hate to hang Dan out to dry, but at least comparing these two seasons, Gullett has him beat.
Scorecard 1975 Reds 6, 1984 Tigers 4
At this point, Jack Morris thrives and starves on reputation, and it shows when the voting for the Hall of Fame comes out. He’s heralded as a clutch pitcher mostly for his 1991 World Series Game Seven ten inning shutout. He had a 4-2 record in the World Series, but he was 4-0 until his last World Series when he played for the Jays in 1992. And although he never won the Cy Young, he finished in the top five on five different occasions.
The general criticism is that his career numbers aren’t quite there. He has a career ERA of 3.90, and his career ERA+ is 105, so it’s a touch above average. And he never hit any of those magic marks like 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.
As far as his career, I’m right in the middle. I know he’s not quite as good as his best moments would indicate (similar to Kirk Gibson), but he’s not quite as bad as his numbers might show. As long as Bert Blyleven isn’t in the Hall of Fame, I can’t quite give him the nod, but barring that, Jack Morris was a very good pitcher for a very long time, and that’s worth something.
1984 was a tale of two seasons for Morris. by the end of May he stood 10-1, and people started throwing out the potential for 30 wins. When it was all said and done, he didn’t even win 20, but by the time he began to struggle, the Tigers already had a nice enough cushion to where it didn’t matter as much.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Innings Pitched 240 1/3
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 60
All pretty good numbers. He finished seventh in the Cy Young (behind two teammates) and that was all despite the horrible second half.
As Blade indicated, this was a lot closer then I first through it would be. Gary Nolan had a nice season in 1975, but in my eyes, it just didn’t stack up to the season Morris had. And Morris was better for 30 more innings.
Scoredboard – 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 4
Kirk Gibson may not get into the Hall of Fame, but he definitely had some Hall of Fame moments. His monster three run shot in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series, and an equally impressive Game 1 walk off homer in the 1988 World Series are my two most memorable moments in all of baseball.
1984 was Gibby’s breakout season, and he was extremely consistent for the next five years. He hit between 24 and 29 homers in each of those five seasons, and he stole between 26 and 34 bases. He was plagued by injuries most of his career, and was only able to play in 140 games in three or more seasons.
Let’s take a look at his numbers.
Runs Created 98
Batting Runs Above Replacement 52
Fielding Runs Above Replacement -1
Equivalent Average .305
Wins Above Replacement Player 5.6
Gibson was never known for his fielding, but he could hit. Ken Griffey had a nice season, but Gibby had a great one. Blade says this one was close, and it might have been if we were comparing Gibson to the 1976 Griffey, but we’re not.
Scorecare – 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 3
If there was one player I most tried to mimic as a kid, it was Chet Lemon. The way he’d casually go back, stand under the ball, and just sort of hold his mitt under the ball, letting it fall into his glove was classic. Rarely did he catch anything two handed, and rarely did I. In fact I still catch grief when I play softball, since I basically conditioned myself to catch the ball without both hands.
1984 was a great season for Chet Lemon. What’s funny is, I don’t remember him for a great catch. And I don’t remember him for a clutch homer. What I do remember him for is going back on a fly ball, losing it in the sun, and getting clocked in the head. I vividly remember sitting in friend’s basement and watching Gibby and a couple other Tigers carrying Chet off the field.
Chet Lemon didn’t set any career marks in 1984, but he probably had his best all-around season. His twenty homers were second best to the year before, and his batting average, on base percentage, and slugging were all above his career marks.
Here’s the numbers:
Runs 77 Slg% .495
Runs Created 88
Batting Runs Above Replacement 41
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 41
Equalized Average .295
Wins Above Replacement Player 9.0
Chet Lemon had a WARP of 9.0, which tied him with Tram for the team lead, so he was as much of an MVP on this team then anyone. Gibby had a monster season at the plate, but his defensive skills (or lack of) hurt when it came to WARP.
And it looks like Blade doesn’t have much to argue about here. In fact he conceded a lot more easily then I thought.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 2
Sparky Anderson loved to platoon. And left field was no exception in 1984. After coming off of back to back quality seasons in 1982 and 1983, Larry Herndon lost time to the recently acquired Ruppert Jones, who actually outplayed him in the time he got.
Herndon, as you’ll see, had a pretty mediocre season. He only played in 125 games, and although he did hit .280, it was really without a lot of punch. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Runs Created 54
Batting Runs Above Replacement 17
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 12
Equalized Average .266
Wins Above Replacement Player 3.2
The OPS+ of 104 and the equalized average of .266 tell it all. To take things one step further, his Batting Runs Above Average was 3, and his Fielding Runs Above Average was 0. It’s unanimous. Larry Herndon had a pretty average season, and doesn’t match up to George Foster.
Score Card 1975 Reds 5, 1984 Tigers 1
Leave it up to Tram. Old reliable. He had a career OPS+ of only 110, and he had just as many seasons below 100 as he did above. But over almost 2,300 career games, he posted a batting average of .285, and an OBP of .352.
1983 was Alan Trammell’s breakout season. In fact it was almost a carbon copy of what he would do in 1984. The five time All Star finished in the top five in hitting in four different seasons, and finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting on three different occasions, including a ninth place finish in 1984. He never won the award, but probably should have in 1987, when he lost out to George Bell.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Runs Created 98
Batting Runs Above Replacement 46
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 36
Equalized Average .297
Wins Above Replacement Player 9.0
So, the shutout ends. I actually thought Dave Concepcion would give Trammell a run, because he had quite a good career, but 1975 wasn’t one of his better seasons. Outside of fielding, Trammell is the better player. And even comparing these two seasons, that differential wasn’t very big.
Scorecard 1975 Reds 4, 1984 Tigers 1
Howard Johnson was one of those Tigers who got away. The switch hitting rookie had a solid campaign his first season, hitting twelve homeruns and driving in fifty in 355 at bats. But for whatever reason, he never was on Sparky’s good side and during the offseason, he was traded to the Mets for Walt Terrell, a solid left handed starter.
HoJo then went on to have three 30/30 seasons, and he finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting three times for the Mets. In 1991, he led the league in homeruns (38) and RBIs (117) and was seventh in OPS (.877). The Tigers on the other hand, went through Tom Brookens (a solid player and a fan favorite, but hardly an all star as he hit .246 for his career), Darnell Coles (had a solid 1986, but nothing much after that), Rick Schu (.214 as a starter in 1989), and Tony Phillips (utility man who played more at third then anywhere else) during Johnson’s peak years. It wasn’t until Travis Fryman in 1991 when the Tigers developed a regular, everyday third basemen.
But enough about my gripes. Here’s the the numbers on HoJo’s rookie season:
Runs Created 45
Batting Runs Above Replacement 13
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 6
Equalized Average .260
Wins Above Replacement Player 2.1
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 4, 1984 Tigers 0
Lou Whitaker was always my favorite Tiger growing up. I think it was the way everyone chanted “Lou” at the games. Little did I know that this was common practice for any player with the first name Lou. Lou Piniella apparantly got the chant, as does Lou Merloni (at least he did when he played for the Red Sox).
Whitaker is listed as the thirteenth best second basemen of all time by Bill James in his Historical Baseball Abstract. He was a great hitter with two strikes on him, and ended his career with more walks then strikeouts. He followed up what was probably his best season in 1983 with a solid campaign in 1984. He won the gold glove despite what the numbers show over at Baseball Prospectus, and played in the All Star Game in 1984.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Home Runs 13
Runs Created 81
Batting Runs Above Replacement 30
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 19
Equalized Average .276
Wins Above Replacement Player 5.4
A fine season, but compared to the MVP of the league, and according to Bill James, the 15th best player of all time at any position, he just doesn’t quite stack up.
Scorecare 1975 Reds 3, 1984 Tigers 0
You can read Blade’s analysis of Joe Morgan at Red’s Cutting Edge.
Prior to the 1984 season, the Tigers made what, at the time, was the biggest free agent pickup in the history of the team. Signing Darrell Evans was a big deal, similar to the Tiger’s signing Pudge in 2004 was a big deal. And in 1984, Darrell Evans was a big bust. I won’t go into too much detail on him because he mostly played DH, but his contribution was minimal. Of course in 1985 he’d hit 40 homeruns, but his 28 extra base hits in 1984 left Tiger’s fans wondering if, at 37, he was over the hill.
The other deal the Tigers made was a trade with the Phillies. The Tigers sent John Wockenfuss and Glenn Wilson to the Phillies for Willie Hernandez and first basemen Dave Bergman. Bergman got the bulk of the starts at first base in 1984, and was platooned there for the rest of the 1980s.
He only played in 131 games during the season, and here’s what his numbers looked like in 1984:
Runs 42 Wins Above Replacement Player 3.3
Runs Created 39
Batting Runs Above Replacement 15
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 15
Equalized Average .276
Wins Above Replacement Player 3.3
The 113 OPS+ isn’t anything to complain about, but the rest of his numbers just weren’t there. This one was pretty much a clean sweep, as Tony Perez and the Reds win another one.
Score – 1975 Reds 2, 1984 Tigers 0
With the exception of the 1945 Team, the Detroit Tigers have had great catchers on each of their World Championship Teams. In 1935, player/manager Mickey Cochrane ended up number four among all catchers in Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. The 1968 team had Bill Freehan (ranked 12th), and of course 1984 sported Tiger great, and current bullpen coach, Lance Parrish (ranked 19th).
1982 is probably Parrish’s best season, although he was fairly consistent throughout the early 1980s. 1984 was also one of his better seasons, and this is what it looks like:
Runs Created 73
Batting Runs Above Replacement 17
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 36
Equalized Average .255
Wins Above Replacement Players 5.9
It’s hard to argue against a Hall of Famer, so I think I’m going save the good fight for another day. This one goes to Johnny Bench.
Score – 1975 Reds 1, 1984 Tigers 0
You can read Blade’s analysis at Reds Cutting Edge.
1984 World Series Game 5 – October 14, 1984
Tigers 8, Padres 4
Tigers Win Best of Seven Series 4-1
The score looks like a blowout, but what a game. The Tigers took the series in five, and beat the Padres to win the World Series at Tiger Stadium. In all, they went 4-0 in the playoffs in front of their home fans.
For the fourth straight game, the Tigers got to the Padres very early. Lou Whitaker led off the game with a single, and was forced out on a fielders choice by Alan Trammell. Kirk Gibson then hit the first of two big blasts to put the Tigers up 2-0. Lance Parrish then singled and stole second, was moved to third on a single by Larry Herndon, and was then driven in on a single by Chet Lemon. Starter Mark Thurmond was then pulled after only 1/3 of an inning in which he gave up five hits.
Reliever Andy Hawkins would get the Padres out of that jam. Larry Herndon was caught stealing third, and Barbero Garbey popped out to end the inning. Starter Dan Petry had a nice three run cushion to work with.
After giving up a single in each of the first two innings, Dan Petry gave up his first run in the third on an RBI single by Steve Garvey. In the fourth, he gave up a lead off walk to Kurt Bevacqua. Garry Templeton doubled to put men at second and third when Bobby Brown drove in Bevacqua on a sacrafice fly. Alan Wiggins singled to drive in Garry Templeton, and all of a sudden, we had a tie ball game. Sparky had seen enough, and went to Bill Scherrer in his pen, who got Tony Gwynn to fly out for the final out of the inning.
The Tigers would strike back in the bottom of the fifth. Kirk Gibson, who did it all in this game, singled and moved to second on a fly out by Lance Parrish. Larry Herndon and Chet Lemon walked to load the bases. Gibby then scored on a sac. fly (it was actually a pop out to second base) to put the Tigers up 4-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers added a run on a solo homerun by Lance Parrish. With two innings left to play, the Tigers had a two run cushion that was short lived as the Padres put another run on the board with a solo shot by Kurt Bevacqua. The Tigers now had a razor thin one run margin, and they had one chance to put up some insurance runs for Willie Hernandez.
And insurance he got. In the bottom of the eighth, Marty Castillo walked, and Lou Whitaker bunted himself on. Alan Trammell moved them both over with a bunt of his own before one of the memorable at bats in Tiger’s history happened. Kirk Gibson came to the plate and hit a massive three run shot off of Goose Gossage to give the Tigers a comfortable four run lead. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was shown often during rain outs, where Goose Gossage talked the pitching coach down from intentionally walking Gibby, claiming he would strike him out. Gibson would finish the game three for four, with three runs and five RBIs.
The Padres managed a single in the ninth, but never really threatened. Willie Hernandez earned the save, the Tigers won the World Series. They were World Champions.
1984 World Series Game 4 – October 13, 1984
Tigers 4, Padres 2
Tigers Lead Best of Seven Series 3-1
Jack Morris had a an incredible first half in 1984. He had an equally poor second half as he got roughed up start after start. But once the playoffs started, Morris was rock solid, and definitely could be mentioned as a potential MVP candidate. This game was basically the Alan Trammell and Jack Morris show.
In the third, it was deja vu, as Lou Whitaker singled with one out, and then Alan Trammell hit a two run shot, his second homer of the game, to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. They’d threaten more in the inning, getting two more baserunners on, before starter Eric Show got the hook.
As good as Trammell was with the bat, Jack Morris was as good on the mound. Jack went the distance, giving up only five hits and two runs (one of which didn’t come until the ninth). He struck out four, and carried the Tigers to within a game of winning the championship.
1984 World Series Game 3 – October 12, 1984
Tigers 5, Padres 2
Tigers Lead Best of Seven Series 2-1
Milt Wilcox got the nod in game three after pitching an incredible game a week before in the ALCS. He started out this game on a decent note. He let a baserunner on in each of the first two innings, but neither crossed the plate.
In the bottom of the third, the Tigers once again gave their starter a nice cushion. Chet Lemon got a one out single, and moved over to second on a Tim Lollar wild pitch. Darrell Evans moved him over to third base on a deep fly, and then Marty Castillo came up big, and hit a two run shot to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The home team wasn’t done though. Lou Whitaker drew a walk, and was driven in on an Alan Trammell double. A Kirk Gibson walk and a Lance Parrish infield single loaded the bases before Tim Lollar got yanked. Reliever Greg Booker then walked in Tram, and then finally stopped the bleeding by getting Barbero Garbey to fly out (he also led off the inning with a fly out).
After only two innings, the Tigers had a 4-0 lead, and they had knocked out the Padres starter. This was a trend throughout the series, and the four runs the Tigers scored actually stood. The Tigers added a run in the third when Kirk Gibson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The Padres did manage to tag Milt Wilcox for a run in the third. He pitched six before handing the ball to Bill Scherrer who gave up a run in the seventh. Willie Hernandez then summarily ended any chance of the Padres coming back by throwing 2 1/3 innings of one hit ball.
With the win, the tide had once again turned in the Tiger’s favor. For the second straight game, they forced the Padres to work deep into their pen, and never really gave them a chance to come back with strong pitching.
1984 World Series Game 2
– October 10, 1984
Padres 5, Tigers 3
Best of Seven Series Tied 1-1
If there’s one thing the Tigers did well in this series, it was getting out to early leads and knocking out the starting pitcher. This game was no exception, as the Tigers got through Padres’ starter Ed Whitson in the first inning.
Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, and Kirk Gibson led of the game with consecutive singles to score a run. Gibson stole second to put runners at second and third when Lance Parrish knocked in Trammell with a sacrafice fly. Darrell Evans then drove in Gibby with a single, and the Tigers were out to comfortable 3-0 lead. Ed Whitson would get one more out before giving up another single to John Grubb, and would be summarily pulled.
The Padres wouldn’t strike again until the fourth inning. Like the first inning, starer Dan Petry let the lead off man, Kurt Bevacqua, get on with a single. He’d score on a groundout by Gary Templeton to cut the lead down to a razor thing margin of one run.
The Padres took a page out the Tigers book by coming up with some great pen work. Andy Hawkins went 5 1/3 innings and gave up only one hit. Craig Lefferts did the same over three innings as they both shutdown the Tigers for the final eight innings of the game.
The Tigers pen would be as good, going 3 2/3 and giving up only two hits. The four relievers kept the Tigers in the game, but they just couldn’t get the bats going.
So they left San Diego tied 1-1. If they had lost the first and won the second, I would have said I was happy, but I wasn’t. The Tigers let this one slip from their fingers and hopefully they’d be able to wrap the series up at home.
1984 World Series – Game OneOctober 9, 1984 Tigers 3, Padres 2 Tigers Lead Best of Seven Series 1-0
For the third time in four playoff games, the Tigers put a run on the board in the first inning. Lou Whitaker led off with a single, and Alan Trammell drove him in with a double. It’s always nice to have a lead before the other team even gets to swing their bats.
Unfortunately, the lead was short lived. Terry Kennedy drove in two runs with a double in the bottom half of the first off of starter Jack Morris. For the first time in the playoffs, the Tigers were down.
The next three innings saw each team getting only hit a piece. What looked like a game that could turn into a shoot out had settled down. Jack Morris had calmed down, and Padres starter Mark Thurmond was equally effective.
Then the Tigers pounced. In the top of the fifth, Larry Herndon came up big and hit a two out, two run homer to give the Tigers the lead for good.
Jack Morris went the distance, giving up only five hits after getting roughed up in the first inning. The Padres threatened in the sixth by getting their first two men on base with singles, but Morris summarily shutdown the rally by striking out the next three batters.
1984 American League Championship SeriesOctober 5, 1984 Tigers 1, Royals 0 Tigers Win Best of Five Series 3-0
I really enjoy a good old pitching duel. One of my favorite games was Jack Morris’ 10 inning shutout in the 1992 World Series. This one was just as good, and it send the Tigers to the World Series for the first time in 16 years.
Things started out innocently enough. The Tigers drew first blood in the second. Barbero Garbey led off with a single, and was forced out at second by Chet Lemon. Darrell Evans singled, sending Lemon to third. And then Marty Castillo hit into a fielders choice that scored Chet Lemon.
And that was it. The Tigers managed only one other hit the rest of the game, as Charlie Leibrandt threw the game of his life. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough.
Milt Wilcox went eight innings, giving up only two hits, two walks, and he struck out eight Royals. The Royals first hit came in the fourth, and the second came in the eighth. They were both singles, and no Royal made it past first base off of Milt.
In the ninth, Willie Hernandez came in to finish things out. He gave up a single to Hal McRae with two outs, but like Wilcox, he didn’t let the runner past first base. The Tigers were going to the World Series, and they did it grand fashion.
Things did not go as well for the Chicago Cubs. After taking a 2-0 lead in the NLCS, the San Diego Padres won all three home games to earn the right to face the Tigers in the series.
American League Championship Series Game 2October 3, 1984 Tigers 5, Royals 3 Tigers Lead Best of Five Series 2-0
While the first game was over pretty much after the first inning, this game showed why the Kansas City Royals walked away with the AL West division title.
Like Game 1, the Tigers went up quickly in the first to take a 2-0 lead. Lou Whitaker reached on an error, and moved over to second on a deep out to center by Alan Trammell. Mr. Clutch, Kirk Gibson drove in Lou with a double, and then was driven in himself on a double by Lance Parrish.
The Tigers extended their lead to 3-0 when Kirk Gibson hit a solo homerun in the top half of the third. Up 3-0, the Tigers looked to be comfortably in control, but the Royals were poised for a comeback.
It started in the bottom of the fourth off of starter Dan Petry. Pat Sheridan was driven in with a sac fly to cut the lead to 3-1. They added one more run in the seventh on an RBI single by pinch hitter Dane Iorg, then tied the game up off of Willie Hernandez in the eighth on a Hal McRae RBI double.
Neither team would score in the ninth or tenth innings, and it was finally in the eleventh when the Tigers sealed the game up. Lance Parrish led off with a single, and moved to second on an error committed while Darrell Evans was trying to move him over. Ruppert Jones forced out Lance Parrish at third to make it once again first and second with one out. Then John Grubb came up with the big hit, and drove in both baserunners with a two run double.
The Royals made an attempt in the bottom of the eleventh to come back by getting two men on, but Aurelio Lopez pitched out of the jam to earn the win.
And now the Tigers were heading home for two chances at home to take the series. Over in the NLCS, the Cubs had cruised to a similar 2-0 lead, and it appeared we’d have a rematch of the 1945 series.
American League Championship Series Game 1October 2, 1984 Tigers 8, Royals 1 (Tigers Lead Best of Five Series 1-0)
Big players produce during big moments, and two of the Tiger’s bread winners, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, came up huge in game one to give the Detroit Tigers a 1-0 lead in their quest for a world championship.
The Tigers started things off early. Lou Whitaker led off the inning with a single, and was summarily driven in by Alan Trammell on his triple. A sacrafice fly by Lance Parrish put the Tigers up 2-0 without the Royals even touching their bats.
The Tigers added a run in fourth on a Larry Herndon homerun, and another run in the fifth as Alan Trammell struck again, hitting a homerun of his own. Tram wasn’t done, because in the seventh, he drove in Lou Whitaker on a single, his third hit of the game.
In the meantime, Jack Morris looked like his April self. He cruised through the first six innings, and it wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Royals finally tagged him for a run. He’d go seven innings, giving up only five hits, the one run, and he struck out four.
One run singles by Barbero Garbey and Darrell Evans in the eighth put the Tigers up 7-1, and Willie Hernandez closed out the game by pitching two perfect innings. The Tigers would add one more run in the top of the ninth on a Lance Parrish homerun, but this game was over with after the Tigers batted in the first inning.
It was an all around dominating performance by the Tigers. Good pitching and good hitting. Can’t ask for more then that, especially in a five game series where anything can happen.
September 30, 1984 Yankees 9, Tigers 2 (104-58)
Sparky rested most of his starters, and gave his pen a final tune up game before the playoff run. Starter Randy O’Neal was shelled for seven runs, and didn’t escape the fifth inning. Four of the five innings he threw in resulted in runs by the Yankees.
Doug Baker and Barbero Garbey drove in the only runs for the Tigers. The bright spot of the game were shutout innings by Bill Scherrer, Aurelio Lopez, and Willie Hernandez. It was nice to see the pen more calm going into the playoffs after a rough week.
With the loss, the Detroit Tiger’s regular season ended. They’d be playing in the playoffs for the first time since 1972 when they lost to the Oakland A’s in the ALCS.
September 29, 1984 Tigers 11, Yankees 3 (104-57)
With a strong offensive performance, and with only one game left in the season, the 1984 Detroit Tigers won their 104th game, setting the franchise record. The game was actually close for a while, but with the game tied 1-1, the Tigers scored five runs in the sixth to bust the game open. They added five more in the ninth to seal the game up.
Juan Berenguer pitched another nice game to improve to 11-10. He went six innings, giving up only one run on two hits. His six walks were a concern, but he pitched out out of a bases loaded jam in the second and the third innings to walk away with a winning record on the season. Roger Mason finished the game off, going three innings and earning his first career save.
It was a historic day for the franchise, and fitting for what most people feel was the greatest Tiger’s season of all time.
September 28, 1984 Tigers 4, Yankees 2 (103-57)
The Detroit Tigers tied the team record with their 103rd win of the season. Dan Petry pitched six solid innings before giving way to the pen with the game tied 1-1. The Tigers took the lead back in the seventh on an RBI single by Lance Parrish, but in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees tied it back up on a sacrafice fly by Bobby Meacham.
Doug Bair did the job in this game by pitching four shutout innings, giving up no hits and only two walks. It allowed the Tigers to finally tag reliever Joe Cowley for two runs in the twelth inning on a two run shot by Lou Whitaker to win the game.
The Tigers ended the game with sixteen hits, but only four runs crossed the plate. They left seventeen men on base through out the game. The Tigers had two more chances to set the franchise win record and it was too bad they had to do all this on the road.
September 27, 1984 Yankees 2, Tigers 1 (102-57)
The duo of Willie Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez lost four games all season. This same duo lost two of those game in a row in the final week of the season. Good from the stand point of how dominating they were for so long, but not good from the stand point of Sparky being worried about his best arms going out on him.
Jack Morris had one his best starts in a long time. Possibly his best start of the season outside of no-hitter. He pitched seven innings of two hit ball. Six walks came back to haunt him though, as the Yankees’ Bobby Meacham walked to lead off the sixth, and was eventually driven in by Dave Winfield to tie the game at 1-1.
Then with the game still tied in the bottom of the eighth, Bobby Meacham scored again on a single by Don Baylor off of Willie Hernandez. Darrell Evans had a chance to pull together a comeback, but he flew out with runners on first and second with two outs.
The Tigers needed to split the series to tie the 1968 Detroit Tigers mark for wins in a season, and they got off to a tough start. Now they needed to win two of three.
September 26, 1984 Brewers 7, Tigers 5 (102-56)
The Tigers would have to wait for another game to have a shot at tying the 1968 Detroit Tigers 103 wins, and the for one of the few times this season, it was the bullpen to blame.
Milt Wilcox cruised through first five innings, giving up only one run on four hits. Roger Mason gave up two runs in the sixth to narrow the Tigers lead to 4-3. Then with the Tigers up 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Aurelio Lopez gave up four runs on three hits and walk, which included a two run double by Ben Oglivie. After 68 games pitched and 136 1/3 innings, Aurelio Lopez finally lost a game.
September 25, 1984 Tigers 9, Brewers 1 (102-55)
Four runs in the first inning put this game away pretty quickly as Howard Johnson hit a grandslam, his twelth of the season. Lance Parrish followed this with a solo shot in the third, and the Tigers coasted to their 102nd win of the season.
Sparky went with the kids on the mound, and Randy O’Neal improved to 2-0 by pitching five shutout innings, giving up only two hits, and striking out three. Sid Monge, Bill Scherrer, Aurelio Lopez, and Willie Hernandez pitched an inning a piece, with the Brewers tagging Lopez for a run in the eighth. In total, the Brewers only managed six hits against the five pitchers.
And now they stood one win short of the record 103 wins set by the 1968 team. With five games left, the record was definitely within reach.
September 24, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 3 (101-55)
Juan Berenguer joined fellow Detroit Tigers Jack Morris, Milt Wilcox, Dan Petry, and Aurelio Lopez as pitchers who achieved ten or more wins. He pitched five solid innings, giving up only five hits and one run, before yielding to the pen.
September 23, 1984 Tigers 4, Yankees 1 (100-55)
It seemed fitting that both Jack Morris and Willie Hernandez would be key in the Tiger’s 100th victory. Morris pitched six shutout innings of two hit ball before handing the ball over to Bill Scherrer. After he pitched a perfect inning, Willie Hernandez finished the game off pitching the eighth and ninth. He gave up a run in the eighth, but he earned his 33rd and final save of the season.
And for the first time since 1968, the Tigers won 100 games. Nearly 40,000 fans made it out to see the Tigers get it done once again.
September 22, 1984 Tigers 6, Yankees 0 (99-55)
Other then Jack Morris’ no-hitter, Dan Petry had probably the next five best pitching performances for the 1984 Tigers. And he saved some of his best stuff for last, as he went the distance, gave up only four hits, and struck out nine. He won his eighteenth of the season it what would be his final start of the regular season.
September 21, 1984 Yankees 5, Tigers 3 (98-55)
The Tigers got off to a hot start, scoring three runs on an Alan Trammell homer and a Ruppert Jones double. All three runs came off of starter John Montefusco, but that’s all they’d get the entire game as they’d only get three more hits
Milt Wilcox gave up three in the third and then two in the sixth. He gave up five hits, but walked five en route to the loss.
September 19, 1984 Tigers 4, Brewers 2 (98-54)
Despite the rest of the regular season basically being meaningless, there were a few more things for the Tigers to play for. One hundred wins was within their reach. Only four times had the Tigers won a 100 games prior to the 1984 seasons, and they were all good ones. 1968, 1961, 1934, and 1915. They also had a shot at the 1968 Tiger’s record 103 wins.
Jack Morris took them one step closer to both of those marks with a strong performance. It was nice to see he pitched well down the stretch after an up and down season. Jack pitched six solid innings en route to his eighteenth win of the season untl the pen took over. Willie Hernandez pitched a shutout ninth inning to earn his thirty first save.
September 18, 1984 Tigers 3, Brewers 0 (97-54)
It was time to celebrate as the Tigers won the chance to play in the playoffs for the first time since 1972. Randy O’Neal and Willie Hernandez combined for a six hit shutout, and Lance Parrish drove in two runs.
The Royals held a razor thin margin over the Twins and the Angels, so who the Tigers would face in the first round still wasn’t clear. All Tiger fans knew was, WE’RE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS!!!!
September 17, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 3 (96-54)
The Tigers would have to wait one more day to celebrate, as they easily handled the Brewers, but the Blue Jays beat the Red Sox. As it stood, the Tiger’s magic number was now down to one.
Roger Mason pitched six quality innings. The rookie gave up six hits and two runs, striking out four.
September 16, 1984 Tigers 8, Blue Jays 3 (95-54)
This one was over relatively quickly as the Tigers rallied for seven runs in the first three innings. Six different Tigers drove in runs, and seven different Tigers scored. Marty Castillo, Tom Brookens and Larry Herndon all hit homers for the Tigers.
Four Tiger pitchers combined to hold the Jays to six hits and three runs (two earned). Juan Berenguer pitched five solid innings to earn his ninth win.
The Tigers took the series and basically won the division with two nice performances. They drew over 135,000 fans for the three game series, as Tigers fans everywhere were celebrating.
September 15, 1984 Tigers 2, Blue Jays 1 (94-54)
What a performance by Milt Wilcox to pick up his seventeenth and final win of the season. Seven innings, one hit, one walk and eight strikeouts. The only blemish was a solo shot in the top of the second by George Bell. Willie Hernandez finished off the game by pitching the eighth and ninth to earn his twenty ninth save of the season.
Ruppert Jones was the batting hero. With the game tied in the fourth, he hit a solo shot to put the Tigers up for good. With the win, the Tigers cut their magic number to four.
September 14, 1984 Blue Jays 7, Tigers 2 (93-54)
At this point in the season, the Blue Jays pretty much needed to sweep the Tigers in their final head to head series, and they got off to a good start behind a nice outing by starter Jim Clancy. He held the Tigers to four hits through five innings, and the Jays capitalized on more Jack Morris struggles, as he got hit for five runs in six innings.
Lou Whitaker was the only real offensive star. He went two for four, scored a run, and drove in the other Tiger run.
With the loss, the Tiger’s magic number was stuck at six. So regardless of what happened the rest of the weekend, the Tigers couldn’t finish off the division this week against their arch rivals.
September 12, 1984 Orioles 3, Tigers 1 (93-53)
Roger Mason made his first career start, going four innings and giving up three runs. The rookie would be traded the following year to the San Fransisco Giants for Alejandro Sanchez. Randy O’Neal made his major league debut in relief of Roger Mason, pitching three solid innings of one hit ball. O’Neal’s career would run through the 1990 season, and he played for five different teams, mostly as a long reliever/spot starter.
Just a quick note on Alejandro Sanchez. He played six seasons, and racked up 214 at bats, mostly as an outfielder. Most notable about his stats are the fact that he walked only one time in his entire career, and it wasn’t until his next to last season with the Twins.
September 11, 1984 Tigers 9, Orioles 2 (93-52)
This game was scoreless through four before the Tigers exploded for five runs in the fifth. Larry Herndon had the big day, going three for three and driving in three runs. Gibson went three for five, and Darrell Evans went four for four and hit his sixteenth homer of the season.
Dan Petry went 6 2/3, giving up only five hits, two runs, and he struck out six. Doug Bair and Willie Hernandez finished the game up, and with the win, the Tigers now had cut their magic number down to seven.
September 10, 1984 Orioles 3, Tigers 1 (92-52)
A good outing by Juan Berenguer went to waste, as he pitched seven solid innings.
The Blue Jays matched the Tigers by losing, so the magic number was now eight. The Tigers could split half of their remaining eighteen games and it wouldn’t matter if the Jays won every one of theirs, it was that close to being over.
September 9, 1984 Tigers 7, Blue Jays 2 (92-51)
Another late inning surge pushed the Tigers past the Blue Jays. With the Tigers up 3-2, Kirk Gibson hit a three run homer in the top of the seventh to give the Tigers a nice cushion. Milt Wilcox gave the Tigers a solid six inning before letting the pen take over and close out the game.
What a weekend series. The Tiger’s were struggling before coming into Toronto, but they really came through when it counted. With a magic number of nine, they had a realistic chance of clinching the division by the following weekend.
September 8, 1984 Tigers 10, Blue Jays 4 (91-51)
This game was cruising along, and was tied 2-2 going into the seventh, when the Tigers exploded for two runs in the seventh, and six runs in the eighth. Jack Morris left the game in the fifth, and Bill Scherrer took over and pitched an inning and a third. Aurelio Lopez finished the game out, going three innings and giving up two useless runs in the bottom of the ninth.
September 7, 1984 Tigers 7, Blue Jays 4 (90-51)
Wow, what a game. Up 4-0, future Tiger Doyle Alexander was cruising along until the top half of the eighth inning. Dave Bergman doubled to lead things off before John Grubb ground out to short. Lou Whitaker drew a walk, and then Alan Trammell flew out to right. Then Mr. Clutch, Kirk Gibson, hit a three run shot to cut the lead to one.
Lance Parrish drew a walk before Alexander was relieved by Jimmy Key. Barbero Garbey singled, and then Larry Herdon walked to load the bases. Then Chet Lemon drew a bases loaded walk to tie the game up at four a piece.
Willie Hernandez then came in to slam the door shut. Neither team scored until the tenth when Dave Bergman hit a three run shot off of Blue Jays reliever Ron Musselman. Willie Hernandez walked one in the bottom half of the tenth, but that was all they could do against him as he earned his ninth win.
With the win, the Tiger’s magic number was now 13. They definitely controlled their own destiny, they just had to fulfill it.
September 5, 1984 Tigers 1, Orioles 0 (89-51)
Orioles starter Mike Flanagan pitched a fine game, going the distance and giving up only six hits and one unearned run. Unfortunately for him, Juan Berenguer was just a little bit better, as he pitched 7 1/3 innings of two hit shutout ball. Willie Hernandez came in to finish the game after that, and he earned his twenty eighth save in the process.
The Jays lost, so the Tigers increased their lead to 8 1/2 games. With a day off before facing the Blue Jays in three game series, the Tigers magic number stood at fifteen.
September 4, 1984 Orioles 4, Tigers 1 (88-51)
Captain Hook was true to form as Dave Rozema gave up back to back singles, a sac fly to Cal Ripken, and then a third single before Sparky pulled the plug early. Bill Scherrer came in to stop the damage, as he got the final two batters out.
Then Sparky went to rookie Roger Mason, who made his major league debut. Mason pitched all eight remaining innings, giving up only four hits and striking out six. Unfortunately one of those hits was a two run shot by Rick Dempsey.
With the loss, the Tigers lead was cut to 7 1/2 games. With an upcoming series against the Jays, things were looking pretty dicey and the fans had to have been a little worried.
September 3, 1984 Orioles 7, Tigers 4 (88-50)
September 2, 1984 Tigers 6, A’s 3 (88-49)
Dan Petry gave up eleven hits in 5 1/3 innings, but only let three A’s cross the plate as the Tigers topped the A’s. The Tigers put four runs on the board in the third inning, and that was basically all they needed. Aurelio Lopez pitched 1 2/3 innings of one hit ball, and Willie Hernandez threw two perfect innings to earn his twenty seventh save.
September 1, 1984 A’s 7, Tigers 5 (87-49)
This one was over pretty quickly, as Juan Berenguer couldn’t escape the first inning. By the end of the first, he’d be gone, and the Tigers would be down 6-0. Doug Bair and Bill Scherrer pitched 7 1/3 great innings of relief, holding Oakland to one run the rest of the way, but the deficit was just too much to overcome.
Lou Whitaker and Rusty Kuntz both drove in two runs, and Barbaro Garbey scored twice. but Chuck Rainey did his best Willie Hernandez impersonation, and held the Tigers scoreless in 3 1/3 innings of relief.
Toronto won, so the lead now stood at 8 1/2 games. A nice cushion, but I’m sure after losing four straight, Sparky and the boys hardly felt secure.
August 31, 1984 A’s 7, Tigers 6 (87-48)
Milt Wilcox struggled as he walked five batters and gave up four hits in 3 2/3 innings. By the time he left the game, the A’s were up 5-4. The Tigers tied it in the fifth on a solo shot by Alan Trammell.
With the scored tied 5-5 going into the ninth, both teams scored a run to put the game into extra innings. Then in the bottom of the thirteenth, right fielder Mike Davis scored on a Dave Rozema wild pitch to win the game.
Once again, the usual combo of Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez kept the Tigers in this one and at least gave them a chance to win. They combined for 8 1/3 innings, giving up only three hits and one run, while striking out eight.
The loss once again put the Tigers back into a single digit lead over the Blue Jays. With 27 games left, they were 9 1/2 games ahead of Toronto.
August 30, 1984 Mariners 2, Tigers 1 (87-47)
Starters Jack Morris and Jim Beattie both took shutouts into the eighth inning before either scored. In the bottom of the eighth, the wheels came off the wagon for Morris though. Spike Owen led off with a walk. Then second basemen Jack Perconte laid down a bunt, and according to Retrosheet.org, Morris dove for the pop up, missed it, then three the ball into rightfield while sitting down. To make matters worse, Kirk Gibson then threw the ball into the Mariners dugout trying to throw Perconte out at third base. So the Mariners scored both of their runs without even getting a hit.
In all, Morris pitched a great game though. He went the distance, gave up only four hits, and struck out eight.
The Tigers tried to answer in the ninth. Barbaro Garbey drew a lead off walk before Chet Lemon grounded out. Larry Herndon then also drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Howard Johnson singled to load the bases, but Lou Whitaker struck out to leave it up to Alan Trammell. Tram came through by drawing a walk and driving in a run, but Kirk Gibson grounded to second to end the game.
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