Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
August 28, 1984 Tigers 5, Mariners 4 (87-45)
Another great comeback win for the Tigers. With the game tied 1-1 going into the bottom half of the seventh, Juan Berenguer had runners on first and second with two outs, when Spike Owen reached base on a Howard Johnson error. The Mariners went on to score three unearned runs as a result of the mishap before newly acquired lefthander Bill Scherrer came in to get the final out.
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to bounce back though, because in the top of the eighth, Ruppert Jones led off with a double. Dave Bergman then singled to leave runners at first and third. Barbaro Garbey flew out before Lou Whitaker drove in a run on a sacrafice fly. Then with Bergman on first, Alan Trammell hit a two run two out homer to tie the game.
Then in the top of the ninth, Darrell Evans got a two out single. Rusty Kuntz ran for Evans, who moved to second on a wild pitch by reliever Mike Stanton. John Grubb struck out, but with two outs, Ruppert Jones drove in Kuntz with a double to take the lead.
Willie Hernandez once again did his thing, as he pitched the eighth and ninth, giving up only one hit to improve to 8-2.
The day before, Bill Lajoie pulled the trigger and got Sparky another left handed arm in the pen. For cash and a player to be named later (eventually being Carl Willis), the Tigers acquired Bill Scherrer from the Reds. He’d give the Tigers a much needed extra option, as he ended up throwing 19 innings with an ultralow 1.89 ERA.
August 22, 1984 Tigers 11, A’s 4 (84-44)
For the third straight game, the Tigers scored into double figures on the Oakland pitching staff. Barbaro Garbey, Alan Trammell, Marty Castillo, and Doug Baker all had two hits, and the Tigers scored all eleven runs without a homerun. The Detroit Tigers did steal six bases though.
Juan Berenguer pitched seven quality innings, giving up five hits and one run.
With the win, the Tigers extended their lead to 12 1/2 games, with only 34 left. At this point, the playoffs were just about in the bag. The only question on Tiger fan’s minds was who they were going to play. The Minnesota Twins held a 5 1/2 game lead over the Angels and Royals at this stage of the season.
August 16, 1984 Tigers 8, Angels 7 (79-43)
Some back and forth, wild and crazy games, can be called rollercoasters.
If that’s the case, then this one was Millenium Force. The Tigers took a quick 5-0 lead after two innings, essentially giving Jack Morris some easy sailing.
And he didn’t take advantage of it. Two innings later, Morris was gone, and the Tigers were down 7-5, as one again, he struggled to get batters out. Then enters the bullpen. More on that in a second.
Down 7-5 in the eighth, Alan Trammell drove in two with an RBI single to tie the game. In the bottom of the twelth inning, Barbaro Garbey came up huge with a walk off RBI double to win the game. A nice, solid, come from behind win.
But give a huge dose of credit to the bullpen. Doug Bair, Aurelio Lopez, and Willie Hernandez combined for a total of 8 1/3 innings of four hit, shutout baseball. Another superb job by the pen kept the Tigers in the game, as they salvaged a 2-2 split of the series.
August 15, 1984 Tigers 8, Angels 3 (78-43)
At this stage of the season, with Jack Morris’ struggles, Dan Petry had become the ace in that he seemed to come up with a win to put a stop to any kind of substantial losing streak. Dan pitched eight solid innings, giving up eight hits and three runs. The Angels had the lead once, going up 2-1 in the fourth, but the Tigers bounced back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead for good. Willie Hernandez pitched a perfect ninth to finish the game off.
Tom Brookens had the big game, going three for three with two RBIs. Barbero Garbey went three for three, Dave Bergman drove in three runs, and Kirk Gibson scored three times. It was a solid all around performance by the team.
July 20, 1984 Tigers 3, Rangers 1 (64-29)
Dave Rozema pitched eight solid innings to give the Tigers the win. Six hits and one run were all he gave up. Willie Hernandez garnered his eighteenth save with a perfect ninth inning.
Future Tiger Frank Tanana pitched nearly as well, but he gave up a two run shot to Barbero Garbey in the third, and a solo shot to Chet Lemon in the fourth. He’d go the distance, but take his ninth loss of the season. Chet Lemon ended up with three of the eight Tiger hits.
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 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 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 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.
May 30, 1984 Tigers 2, A’s 1 (37-9)
Big players come up in big ways, and two big players came up big in this one.
To set the stage, Juan Berenguer was cruising along. Two hits through four innings. Then the wheels came off the wagon. An error and three walks led Oakland to the go ahead run in the fifth. Then with the bases loaded, Captain hook was true to form and brought in his horse from the pen, Willie Hernandez. With two outs and an inherited bases loaded, got Mike Davis to ground out to end the inning and stop the damage.
The Tigers would answer immediately in the sixth inning. Barbero Garbey tripled to lead off the inning. And then with one out and Garbey at third, future Tigers Tony Phillips made an error that allowed Garbey to score and tie up the game.
Hernandez would shutdown the A’s through the eighth, and in the top half of the ninth, with one out, Kirk Gibson, known for his clutch hits, jacked a solo shot to give the Tigers the lead for good. Aurilio Lopez finished the game to earn his seventh save.
May 29, 1984 A’s 8, Tigers 5 (36-9)
Oakland really pummelled Milt Wilcox, who dropped to 6-2. By the end of the fourth inning, he’d be gone, and the score was 8-1. Not a whole lot to say about this one. Chet Lemon hit his ninth homer, and only one other Tiger, Barbero Garbey, had an extra base hit.
And not to get too far away from the 1984 season, but I’ve never been a big fan of the save statistic. I wrote about it and John Hiller in a past column, but in this game, Oakland’s closer, Bill Caudill, earned his tenth save of the season. Oakland was a sub-.500 team, but using the benchmark statistic for closers, you could make the arguement that Caudill was more effective then either Willie Hernandez and Aurilio Lopez, both of whom had a lower save total.
In fact, Caudill would end the season with 36 saves, four more then Cy Young and MVP winning Willie Hernandez. Interestlingly enough, two relievers finished in the top three of the MVP balloting in 1984. Willie of course won it, but Dan Quisenberry came in third. They also finished first and second in the Cy Young. As best as I can tell, 1984 was the only time relievers were as represented at the top of the ballots for either award.
May 18, 1984 Tigers 8, A’s 4 (30-5)
This game would hardly got past the fifth inning, but it had the makings of high scoring one. The Detroit Tigers scored five in the first, and in total, scored in four of the five innings they batted in. Lance Parrish and Kirk Gibson both drove in two runs, and Barbero Garbey and Darrell Evans hit homeruns.
Dan Petry went the distance to garner his sixth win. He’d struggle, giving up seven hit and four runs. But the bats were there for him. Another 40,000+ crowd came out to see the hometeam win their 30th of the season.
May 1, 1984 Tigers 11, Red Sox 2 (19-2)
When it was all said and done, the Tigers had racked up eleven runs on sixteen hits. Rusty Kuntz, Barbero Garbey, and Chet Lemon all had three hits (Chet had two dingers), and Trammell extended his hitting streak to eighteen games with a double and single. Eight different Tigers scored runs, and probably the oddest line was that only three players had RBIs. Kuntz had three, and Lemon and Garbey both had four.
Milt Wilcox had a fine game as well, as he pitched eight, while giving up only seven hits and two runs (one earned) as he advanced to 3-0.
And with the win, the Tigers sat on a 19-2 record, giving them a .905 winning percentage. This would be the last time they’d be above the .900 mark, but it just shows how impressive this run was. At this point, they were 16-3 away from their fabulous 35-5 run. And while 16-3 is very impressive, the fact that they started 19-2 to get there makes it equally impressive.
And I’m going to do some checking, but if someone can answer this, I’d appreciate it. What is the record for the best 40 game stretch (not just to begin the season, but at anytime during the season)? Do the Tigers have it at 35-5, or has someone gone 36-4?
April 20, 1984 Tigers 3, White Sox 2 (10-1)
This time, the Tigers managed to get eleven hits, but they had a hard time making them count as they also left eleven men on base in this nail biter. The Tigers never had the lead in this one until the game ended, and Milt Wilcox, despite not getting the win, threw a great game to keep the Tigers in this one. Eight innings, eight hits, three walks, and only two runs.
The Tigers were down 2-1 going into the seventh when Larry Herndon drove in Barbero Garbey on a single. Then in the ninth, with the score tied 2-2, Lou Whitaker drew a lead off walk. Tram bunted him over to second. Dave Bergman grounded out, but moved Lou over to third, and then Lance Parrish drove in Whitaker on a two out walk off single.
A great game, and the fans were beginning to appreciate what the Tigers were doing, as they drew nearly 34,000, the most since opening day.
April 8, 1984 – Tigers 7, White Sox 3 (5-0)
Dave Rozema pitched four strong innings, but had to leave the game when his arm tightened up. He left Aurelio Lopez with a one run lead, and summarily slammed the door, giving up only one run (Harold Baines home run), one hit, and striking out four in four strong innings.
The Tigers got to Tom Seaver early as well, scoring five runs in the first five innings. Kirk Gibson hit his second homer of the season. Tram stole his fourth base. Barbero Garbey doubled twice and drove in three runs.
I’m not sure why, but this game went three hours and seventeen minutes. Back then, that was a pretty long game.
And one odd quirk about the 1984 season is the Tigers played in four home openers. They opened the Metrodome, Comiskey, Fenway and then of course Tiger Stadium. They rained on everyone’s parade that year.
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