Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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June 30, 1984 Tigers 4, Twins 3 (55-21)
Dan Petry pitched 8 1/3 strong innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, while striking out ten, but it almost wasn’t enough. Down 3-2, the Tigers tied the game in the seventh on a sac. fly by Ruppert Jones, and then scored the go ahead run in the bottom of the eighth on a wild pitch by Ron Davis. Willie Hernandez picked up his 14th save by getting the final two batters out.
Dave Bergman hit his second homer of the season, and Chet Lemon picked up two hits and scored a run.
June 29, 1984 Twins 5, Tigers 3 (53-21)
Jack Morris got hit hard, giving up 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Doug Bair pitched 3 1/3 strong innings of two hit ball to allow the Tigers a chance to come back, but it was too much to overcome as they hit the ball (11 hits), but couldn’t get men across the plate.
Lou Whitaker went three for five, and Lance Parrish had a two run double.
June 29, 1984 Tigers 7, Twins 5 (54-21)
Another win for the bullpen. It’s amazing how game in and game out, the pen allowed this team to get back into games.
Milt Wilcox gave up five runs through five innings, allowing the Twins to take a one run lead. But the usual combo of Aurilio Lopez and Willie Hernandez slammed the door shut tight to let the Tigers come back and win this one. Lopez went 2 1/3, and Hernandez went 1 2/3 to improve to 4-0.
Kirk Gibson had a big day, hitting two homers and driving in four runs. Ruppert Jones and Chet Lemon hit solo shots.
June 27, 1984 Yankees 5, Tigers 4 (53-20)
You definitely can’t win them all, and this is one that the Tigers let get away. With a two run lead, rookie Carl Willis gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning (although two of those scored on Doug Bair, who inherited the runners) as the Tigers dropped the series.
The Tigers only had five hits in this one. Barbero Garbey drove in two runs and scored, and Chet Lemon drove in a run and scored as well.
June 26, 1984 Tigers 9, Yankees 7 10 Inning (53-19)
This was an exciting, if not back and forth affair. The Tigers started things off with four runs on five hits in the second inning. The Yankees bounced back with three runs in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fith, and then one in the sixth to take 7-4 four lead.
Then, the 1984 magic happened once again. In the top half of the eighth, with two outs, the Tigers scored three runs to tie it up on singles by Alan Trammell and Darrell Evans. Then in the top of the tenth, Lance Parrish hit a two run shot to seal the deal.
Willie Hernandez really bounced back in this game. After a poor performance the night before, he pitched 2 2/3 high leverage innings to improve to 3-0 on the year.
With the win, the Tigers had finally put a double digit lead between themselves and the Blue Jays. Not even half way into the season, they stood ten games ahead of the next nearest competitor in their division.
June 25, 1984 Yankees 7, Tigers 3 (52-19)
This game was a tight pitching affair until the seventh inning hit. With the score tied 1-1 going into the seventh, the Tigers scored two to take a 3-1 lead on Barbero Garbey’s second homer of the year. Then in the bottom half of the inning, the Yankees took the lead with three runs of their own. They then added three more in the bottom of the eighth. Dave Winfield had an awesome game, going 5 for 5, and driving in four runs.
Willie Hernandez had rough outing, one of the few times he got hard during the 1984 campaign. He gave up the three runs in the eighth on two hits and three walks. Doug Bair took the loss to drop to 4-1.
June 24, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 1 (52-18)
Jack Morris had missed a couple of starts due to a sore elbow, but the rest must have done him some good, as he bounced back nicely. He’d finish with six innings of one hit ball to improve to 12-3, and Aurilio Lopez would pitch the final three to earn his ninth save. In all, the Brewers only had three baserunners.
Lance Parrish went three for four and hit his thirteenth homer of the year, and Ruppert Jones, lumber trance and all, hit his third, a three run shot in the sixth.
With the win, the Tigers expanded their lead to 8 1/2 games heading into a road series with the Yankees. A nice cushion that would slowly get larger over time as the Blue Jays hit a rough patch.
June 23, 1984 Tigers 5, Brewers 1 (51-18)
The Tigers got off to a quick start, scoring all five of their runs by the end of the third inning. Kirk Gibson hit his ninth homerun, and Howard Johnson hit his sixth (another three run shot).
Milt Wilcox pitched a gem, going eight innings and giving up only four hits. The Brewers didn’t score off of him until the eighth inning when Jim Gantner drove in Ed Romero on a sacrafice fly. Doug Bair pitched a perfect ninth to complete the combined four hitter.
At this point, the Tigers were still on pace to win close to 120 games. They’d hit a rough stretch in the middle of the season, but they were still drawing 40,000+ to a lot of their games, and the fans were definitely excited.
June 22, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 3 (50-18)
Well, it wasn’t exactly a “full” house, but close to 49,000 fans showed up to see the Tigers win their 50th game of the season. A strong six innings by Dave Rozema, who improved to 4-0, got the Tigers off to a nice start, and Willie Hernandez struck out five in 2 1/3 innings of one hit ball to earn his thirteenth save of the season.
Kirk Gibson and Larry Herndon drove in two, and Tom Brookens went two for two.
June 21, 1984 Brewers 4, Tigers 3 (49-18)
Don Sutton started the game with 4 1/3 innings of no hit ball as he and two relievers combined for a four hitter. The Tigers made a late inning run in the seventh by scoring three, two of which from Larry Herndon’s first homer of the year. From that point on, Rollie Fingers pitched 2 1/3 innings of one hit ball to shut down the Tigers the rest of the way.
Other then Herndon’s two run shot, there’s not a lot to note in this one. Juan Berenguer pitched fair, and Sid Monge and Aurilio Lopez combined for 3 2/3 innings of shutout ball to give the Tigers a chance to come back, but it wasn’t to be.
June 20, 1984 Tigers 9, Yankees 6, 13 innings (49-17)
The Tigers won a back and forth affair when Howard Johnson hit a three run shot in the bottom of the thirteenth inning. The Yankees had a 2-0 lead and a 4-2 lead before the Tigers picked up a few runs to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, then took a one run lead in the bottom of the seventh. Then the two teams went back and forth, scoring one run each until the game ended regulation at a 6-6 tie.
Willie Hernandez pitched four strong innings of relief, and Doug Bair improved to 4-0 by pitching two innings of one hit ball. Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish and Chet Lemon all hit homer to go along with HoJo’s extra innings blast.
June 19, 1984 Tigers 7, Yankees 6 (48-17)
This was another classic example of the pen bailing out the Tigers once again. With starter Carl Willis getting hit hard, Doug Bair got out of a bases loaded jam to lessen the damage. He then went on to throw two more shutout inning before giving it up to Aurilio Lopez, who shut the Yankees down for 1 1/3 before giving it up to Willie Hernandez, who finished things off for his twelth save. In all, the bull pen would throw 4 2/3 innings of no hit ball (two unearned runs would score on six walks though).
Larry Herndon drove in the tying run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, and Rusty Kuntz followed it up with a two run single to give the Tigers the lead for good. Lance Parrish and Don Mattingly both hit their eleventh homer of the season.
The Blue Jays finally lost, allowing the Tigers to extend their lead to 6 1/2 games. Another 41,000 fans came out to see the Tigers.
June 18, 1984 Yankees 2, Tigers 1 (47-17)
The knuckleball specialist, and eventual 300 game winner, shut down the Tigers to break their three game winning streak. On a sub-.500 team (I know this is hard to believe, but the Yankees had a mediocre stretch in the mid to late 1980s), Phil Niekro improved to 10-3 by throwing 8 2/3 innings of three hit ball. The only Tiger who crossed the plate was Kirk Gibson (who actually got two of the three hits), who hit a first inning solo shot.
Phil Niekro had an impressive career. From 1977 through 1979, he threw no less then 330 innings in each season, something that would be unheard of in this day. He also led the league in hits allowed and runs given up as well. The Hall of Fame pitcher never won a Cy Young, but finished in the top six on six different occasions. In 1967, he led the league with a 1.87 ERA by throwing 207 innings in 46 games (20 starts, 26 relief appearances). He’s 14th all time in wins (has Clemens passed him yet?) with 318, fourth in games started at 716, and fourth all time in innings pitched with 5,404 1/3. The three guys ahead of him in innings pitched all threw before 1927.
And today, he got the best of the Tigers. Milt Wilcox threw seven quality innings of seven hit ball, but it wasn’t enough. 40,000+ fans came out to see the Tigers on a Monday night.
June 17, 1984 Tigers 7, Brewers 4 (47-16)
Dave Rozema improved to 3-0 with a solid five innings of four hit ball. Aurilio Lopez inherited a five run lead, and although he wasn’t stellar, picked up his eighth save by going four innings to finish the game off.
The Tigers did the bulk of their damage in the fifth when they scored five runs. Tom Brookens had a two run triple, and Barbero Garbey scored by stealing home. Chet Lemon led the hit parade by going three for five while driving in two runs.
The Tigers headed home with three straight wins a struggling Yankees team still six games ahead of Toronto. The race at this point was pretty much a two team one, as Baltimore had tapered of to 11 1/2 back (still a better record then the division leading California Angels).
June 16, 1984 Tigers 6, Brewers 0 (46-16)
Juan Berenguer was very impressive, throwing what would be his only complete game shutout of the season. He pitched a five hitter, and never gave up more then one hit in any given inning.
Darrell Evans had the hot bat, hitting a three run homer in the sixth, and adding another RBI with a sacrafice fly. Dave Bergman went three for four, and Ruppert Jones tacked on two hits, one of which was was second homer of the season.
The Blue Jays had also won their last two since the Tiger’s series, and remained stuck at six games back. Still enough to worry about.
Jun 15, 1984 Tigers 3, Brewers 2 (45-16)
The Tigers scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning to take the lead for good in this tight pitching matchup. John Grubb reached base on an error and drove in the tying run, while Larry Herndon had an infield single with the bases loaded to score what would be the winning run. Lance Parrish hit his tenth homerun while going two for three, and Larry Herndon contributed with two hits of his own.
Dan Petry pitched another fine game, going seven innings of seven hit ball. Willie Hernandez nailed the door shut with two shutout innings to earn his eleventh save.
June 13, 1984 Blue Jays 7, Tigers 3 (44-16)
The Tigers ran into a brick wall in Dave Stieb, and they never really had a chance in this one. Stieb pitched seven strong shutout innings, giving up only three hits. It wasn’t until the eighth inning, against rookie reliever Jimmy Key, that Tigers managed to get on the board with three runs.
Milt Wilcox threw five mediocre innings, and Doug Bair got lit up for three runs in his two relief innings.
No real hitting stars in this one, as the Tigers only managed to get seven hits, and nobody had more then one.
So the Tigers had a chance to really extend their lead, but by dropping the last two games, they gave Toronto some help. Six games was a nice cushion, but hardly insurmountable this early in the season.
June 12, 1984 Blue Jays 12, Tigers 3 (44-15)
Jack Morris got shelled, plain and simple, and the pen followed suit with some equally bad pitching. This would be the most runs the Tigers would give up in a game all season (the twelve runs would eventually be matched in August, but not surpassed).
Three innings, eight hits, and six runs was the final line for Morris. By far his worst outing of the season. Sid Monge, who was picked up the day before, pitched four innings and gave up three runs. Even the reliable Aurilio Lopez gave up three runs in an eighth inning that didn’t mean too much.
Tiger’s hitting stars included Lou Whitaker, who went three for four with two RBIs. John Grubb went two for four, and Howard Johnson went two for three and scored twice. Chet Lemon was the only other player to get a hit.
June 11, 1984 Tigers 5, Blue Jays 4 (44-14)
With the score tied at three a piece, Lou Whitaker hit a two run shot in the fourth inning to put the Tigers up by two. Seemed like a modest lead, but it turned out to be the difference, but not without some nail biting by Tiger fans.
With two outs in the bottom of seventh, Willie Hernandez came in with that two run lead and a runner on third. Willie allowed the inherited runner to score and pull the Jays to within one run, but he got the final seven Blue Jays out (three by strikeout) to earn his tenth save of the year.
With the win, the Tigers extended their lead to a season high eight games
This double header seemed liked a big win at the time, but it basically marked the point where the Tigers continued to widen the distance between themselves and Toronto. They’d come in with a 5 1/2 game lead, and left with a seven game lead. Toronto would pull a little closer in the next week, and pull to within six games in early July, but the 35-5 start gave the Tigers too strong of a base to start with.
June 10, 1984 Tigers 10, Orioles 4 Game 1 (42-14)
Another tough start by Glenn Abbott. He didn’t make it through the third, giving up seven hits and three runs through 2 2/3. At the end of the third, the game would be tied, but then the Tiger’s bats took over.
Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, and Kirk Gibson, the Tigers 1-2-3 hitters, were a combined 8 for 13. Lou Whitaker went three for four and scored five runs. Tram went two for four with a double and triple, had four RBIs, and scored twice. Kirk Gibson went three for five and chalked up four RBIs. Four Orioles errors led to five unearned runs.
Doug Bair went 3 1/3 of one hit ball to pick up his third win, and Willie Hernandez went three innings to chalk up his ninth save.
June 10, 1984 Tigers 8, Orioles 0 Game 2 (43-14)
This was a blow out, plain and simple. Dan Petry bounced back to throw a three hitter. Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, and Howard Johnson all had three hits, and Hojo hit his fourth homer of the year.
Nearly 52,000 fans showed up for the doubleheader.
June 9, 1984 Orioles 4, Tigers 0 (41-14)
For the second time in a week, Mike Flanagan was too much for the Tigers as he pitched nine shutout innings, walking nobody, and only giving up six singles and a double.
A couple of firsts in this one. Aurilio Lopez got shelled. He gave up three hits and a walk while only getting one out. He was relieved by Carl Willis, who made his major league debut and pitched 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball. Starter Juan Berenguer was erratic, giving up four walks, but striking out six in 5 1/3 innings.
Nothing much to report on the hitting front. Barbero Garbey went two for four, and Chet Lemon had the only extra base hit of the game, a ninth inning double.
June 8, 1984 Tiger 3, Orioles 2 (41-13)
The Tigers beat the Orioles in front of over 50,000 fans in a tight affair. Milt Wilcox threw six solid innings to win his seventh game, and the bullpen was stellar. In all, the Tiger’s staff only gave up six hits and three walks. Once Milt was taken out, Doug Bair threw a perfect seventh, and Willie Hernandez finished things out by pitching two strong innings to earn his eighth save.
The Tigers stranded ten baserunners again, but this time it didn’t cost them a win. With the score at 2-1, the Tigers scored two runs in the top half of the seventh on a double by Howard Johnson and a sacrafice fly by Alan Trammell.
June 7, 1984 Tigers 5, Blue Jays 3 (40-13)
When in doubt, you put the ball in Jack Morris’ hands. Nine innings, seven hits, and one walk was the final line as he improved to 11-2 in front of nearly 41,000 Tiger fans.
The big blast of the night was by Ruppert Jones, who made his Tiger debut that evening. And what a debut it was. Injury problems and a few rough seasons saw Rupert Jones on the chopping block at San Diego, and the Tigers signed him in April and sent him to AAA (which was at Evansville at the time, not Toledo). He was brought up the night before, and what a debut, because in the bottom of the sixth, with the score tied, Ruppert Jones took starter Jim Clancy deep for a three run shot to give the Tigers what they’d need to win it.
And for those of you who don’t remember Ruppert, he would become known for his batter’s box routine, which became known as the Ruppert Jones Lumber Trance. He’d hold the bat up near his eyes and just stand there staring at the bat. Classic stuff, and reading about this brought back some memories as I always liked Ruppert Jones.
With the win, the Tigers left Detroit with a split of the series against the Jays, so they walked away with the same lead they walked in with. Three of the four games drew 35,000+, which was pretty good for a weekday series. Now they’d have to go to Baltimore to face a team that beat them in their previous series.
June 6, 1984 Blue Jays 6, Tigers 3 (39-13)
The Tigers losing ways went on, as they had now dropped 8 of 12 since their fantastic start. Dan Petry got shelled, giving up 10 hits in four innings, and the Jays had five runs on the board before the Tigers got one across the plate.
Aurilio Lopez pitched four strong innings of relief to keep the Tigers in it, but like yesterday, they couldn’t get it done with men on base as they left 10 men stranded throughout the game. Venezuelan native Luis Leal improved to 6-0 for the Jays, which was impressive for a man with 58 career wins.
Lou Whitaker went three for four, and Howard Johnson went two for three.
At this stage of the season, the Tigers lead now stood at 3 1/2 games. They had basically blown their lead. We all know how this story ends, but at this point, there was some geniune concern. Fortunately for the Tigers, they’d go on a run, and this would be the closest the Jays would ever get.
June 5, 1984 Blue Jays 8, Tigers 4 (39-12)
A six run fourth inning and four total homeruns by the Blue Jays did the Tigers in. Starter Glenn Abbott couldn’t make it through four innings, and the ever reliable Doug Bair was hit hard as well.
Detroit managed eight hits and eight walks, but only four men crossed the plate. Brookens (double) and Herndon (triple) had the only extra base hits, and Kirk Gibson went two for four.
June 4, 1984 Tigers 6, Blue Jays 3 (39-11)
A couple of big blasts by some unlikely players gave the Tigers round one of the season series with the Blue Jays. Starter Juan Berenguer pitched a decent but not great game, giving up three runs through 6 2/3. Willie Hernandez was the pitching star though. Even though he was brought in with a three run deficit, unheard of for a closer in this day, he got the Tigers out of a jam in the critical seventh inning. He ended up pitching three innings of shutout ball to help the Tigers earn the win.
The reason the seventh inning was critical was, in the bottom half, the Tigers came back. Third basemen Howard Johnson tied the game up with one swing of the bat by hitting a three run homer. The game would be tied at the end of nine, and in the bottom of the tenth, the Tigers struck again.
In Sparky Anderson’s book “Bless You Boys,” Sparky Anderson called it the greatest at bat in his life. Dave Bergman, the Tigers role player/backup firstbasemen came to bat with runners on first and second base and two outs. He worked to a full count against Roy Lee Howell, then according to Sparky, fouled off seven straight pitches. Then on the 13th pitch, Bergman hit what I remember as his most memorable homer of his career into the upper deck in right field.
Great relief pitching and timely hitting. The Tigers widened their lead to 5 1/2 games over the Jays, but they’d still have three more games left just in this series.
June 3, 1984 Orioles 2, Tigers 1 (38-11)
Another pretty poor performance all the way around by the Tigers as Mike Flanagan pitched a seven hit complete game shutout. The only ding against him was a solo shot by Tom Brookens, his first homer of the season.
Milt Wilcox struggled, but still kept Detroit in the game. He walked six in 5 2/3 innings. Dave Rozema finished the game by pitching 3 1/3 innings of one hit ball.
Tomorrow, the Tigers had their first season series against the Blue Jays, who now sat 4 1/4 back of Detroit. The Tigers were mired in a slump that would have been considered impossible, as they lost six of nine after starting the season 35-5.
June 2, 1984 Orioles 5, Tigers 0 (38-10)
Jack Morris never quite got on track, as he gave up at least one run in the first three innings. Nobody scored after that, but it was enough for Storm Davis, who pitched a complete game, three hit shutout against the Detroit Tigers.
Toronto won their game, so they now sat only 4 1/2 games back, with their first series against Detroit only two days away.
June 1, 1984 Tigers 14, Orioles 2 (38-9)
At the beginning of June, the Tigers held a 5 1/2 game lead over second place Toronto, who were 32-15 (second best record in the majors) and 10 1/2 games ahead of Orioles, who sat at a respectable 28-21. Had Baltimore been in any other division, they would have sat in first place in the AL West (by three game), and would have also been in first place in the NL West. They tapered off later in the year, but were in the midst of a five game winning streak as they went off to Detroit to face the Tigers.
In front of 47,252 fans, Dan Petry pitched six strong shutout innings, giving up only three hits. More importantly, he’d be handed a 13 run lead, as the Tigers scored more runs in a game in that 1984 season. They’d match the 14 runs later in the year, but would never surpass it.
Alan Trammell, Chet Lemon, and Lance Parrish all hit homers with at least one man on base. The Tigers had a six run lead after two, a nine run lead after three, and a twelve run lead after four.
Dan Petry improved to 8-2, and Doug Bair earned his third save of the season. The save was of the three garbage inning variety. No offense to Doug Bair though, who continued to give the Tiger’s quality innings when they needed them or not.
May 20, 1984 Tigers 4, A’s 3 (32-5)
This was another one run game where the Tigers got off to a nice early lead, but watched the other team nearly come back to beat them. Milt Wilcox was simply awesome, and improved to 6-0. He threw six innings, and only gave up three hits and a walk. Willie Hernandez pitched the final three innings, and his only blemish was a solo homerun by Mike Heath. In total, the two pitchers would hold the A’s to four hits while only giving up one walk.
Dwight Lowry, the Tiger’s backup catcher, hit the first homerun of his career. Larry Herdon picked up two singles to be the only Tiger with a multihit game. Nine of the ten Tiger hits were singles, with the Lowry homer being the exception.
May 19, 1984 Tigers 5, Oakland 4 (31-5)
This is a game that almost got away. Detroit got off to a comfortable 5-1 lead, and almost let things slip through their fingers. Aurelio Lopez gave up a solo shot to Dwayne Murphy in the ninth to cut the lead to one, but held on the rest of the way to earn his fifth save. Jack Morris had a rough outing, walking six and giving up eight hits in 7 1/3, but he got through some jams to earn his eighth victory.
Lou Whitaker and Darrell Evans drove in two runs a piece (one of Lou’s came off of a solo shot), and Kirk Gibson scored twice. Alan Trammell stole his 12th base, which at that point was one more steal then what Rickey Henderson, the eventual league leader, had stolen. The Tigers scored all five of their runs in five seperate innings.
May 2, 1984 Red Sox 5, Tiger 4 (19-3)
Ten stranded baserunners cost the Tigers in this one, as they dropped a nail biter to the Red Sox. Boston got off to a quick start with Dwight Evans two run shot off of Juan Berenguer. In the third, Jim Rice would hit another two run shot, to put the Red Sox in the lead 4-0. The Tigers tried to make a last ditch effort in the ninth, when they cut the score to 5-4, but Kirk Gibson (who went 4 for 5) was stranded at third when Darrell Evans grounded out, and John Grubb struck out to end the game. No magic on this day.
In all, the Detroit Tigers outhit the Red Sox in this on 13-8. But in the end, the Tigers walked away with their third loss of the season.
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