Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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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
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 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 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 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 3, 1984 Orioles 7, Tigers 4 (88-50)
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 25, 1984 Tigers 5, Angels 1 (84-45)
It’s definitely nice seeing Jack Morris put together back to back quality outings. In his seventeenth win of the season, Morris went eight innings, gave up nine hits and one run, while striking out four. Willie Hernandez came in to pitch a perfect ninth to finish off the game.
August 21, 1984 Tigers 12, A’s 6 (83-44)
For the second straight game, the Tiger’s bats allowed the pitchers a virtual night off. Aurelio Lopez and Willie Hernandez both gave up two runs in an inning of work each, but four runs in the first and four in the sixth pretty much sealed this game up early.
Milt Wilcox pitched a nice game, going six innings and striking out seven. He improved to 14-7. Lance Parrish, Larry Herndon, and Darrell Evans all hit homeruns. Lance Parrish’s dinger was a grand slam in the first inning, and Darrell Evans ended the day going four for five, scoring three times, and driving in three runs.
August 20, 1984 Tigers 14, A’s 1 (82-44)
Not even with the way Jack Morris had been pitching could he have blown this one. The Tigers scored fourteen runs on twenty hits. Larry Herndon, Doug Baker, and Darrell Evans had three hits a piece, and Chet Lemon drove in three runs.
By the end of third, the Tigers had a 6-1 lead. With five in the fifth, they went into double figures. Jack Morris won his sixteenth by pitching seven innings of three hit ball, and Dave Rozema pitched two solid innings of relief.
August 14, 1984 Angels 6, Tigers 4 (77-42)
The Tigers lost the first of two in a back and forth affair. The Angels took the lead on three different occassions, only to see the Tigers tie it up, until the top of the ninth when the Angels finally took the lead for good. A Doug DeCinces two run single off of Willie Hernandez was the winning blow, as Willie lost his second game of the season.
Juan Berenguer pitched a solid game, but for one of the few times this season, the Aurelio Lopez/Willie Hernandez combo didn’t come through. Lopez gave up a run in his sole inning, and Willie gave up his two after pitching two innings.
August 14, 1984 Angels 12, Tigers 1 (77-43)
The twelve runs by California matched the Tigers season worst for runs given up in a game. On two other occasions, Tiger’s pitching gave up twelve.
And there were no notables on offense. The Tigers spread out seven singles, and Darrell Evans drove in the only run. With the two losses, the Tiger’s lead over Toronto had dwindled to 7 1/2 games. What looked like a runaway race was tightening up quick.
July 25, 1984 Indians 4, Tigers 1 (68-30)
As usual during the year, the Tigers couldn’t win them all. Dave Rozema pitched a solid 6+ innings, but Cleveland Rookie Roy Smith shutdown the Tigers. The only real damage was a solo shot by Darrell Evans in the second inning.
Even with the loss, Toronto continued to struggle, so the Tigers remained 11 1/2 games up. The final game of the series was rained out.
July 17, 1984 Tigers 3, White Sox 2 (62-28)
The Tigers scored three quick runs in the first inning on a sacrafice fly by Kirk Gibson and two run shot by Darrell Evans. Eight innings later, they were still sitting on three runs, but it was just enough to walk away with a win.
Dan Petry pitched another fine game. He went 7 2/3, gave up five hits and one walk, while striking out five to improve to 12-4. Willie Herndandez then finished things up by throwing 1 1/3 perfect innings to earn his seventeenth save.
July 15, 1984 Tigers 6, Twins 2 (60-28)
Dave Rozema pitched six strong innings and Aurilio Lopez pitched 3 2/3 innings of one hit ball to earn his eleventh save of the season. The two pitchers each had five strikeouts.
Dave Rozema had some nice years for the Tigers, but never reached his full potential. In 1977, he was the Tigers Rookie of the Year after going 15-7 with a 3.09 ERA. The fact that he struck out only 92 batters in 218 1/3 innings sort of gave everyone a reflection that this first season might have been an anamoly. He finished eighth in the Cy Young voting that year, but he’d never reach double digits in wins again.
By 1984, Dave was near the end of his career. He did have a fine season, as all the Tigers seemed to do that year, playing the role of spot starter and long reliever for the Tigers. He pitched 101 innings, and racked up an impressive ERA of 3.74.
Lou Whitaker went four for five, and Darrell Evans hit had three RBIs and a homerun. Lemon, Bergman, and Howard Johnson all had two hits.
July 4, 1984 White Sox 8, Tigers 2 (55-25)
I’m sure the Tigers were very happy to get out of Chicago. Three games. Three beatings. Richard Dotson pitched eight innings of three hit ball to shut down the Tigers. The Tigers tried making a run in the ninth, but fell way short.
Milt Wilcox walked seven and gave up five hits and six runs, all in the sixth inning.
Darrell Evans and John Grubb hit homers for Detroit to account for their two runs.
Forty games after starting 35-5, the Tigers still stood at third games over .500. After a forty game stretch of .500 ball, they stood seven games ahead of Toronto, losing 1 1/2 games from where they were at the forty game mark.
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 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.
May 25, 1984 Mariners 7, Tigers 3 (35-6)
It all had to end eventually. But to be sitting near the end of May, and to only have six losses, is quite an accompishment. The major league consecutive road victory streak record remained intact, with an added name, but it wouldn’t be broken.
Milt Wilcox never got on track in this one. He gave up three quick runs in the first two innings, and then gave up three more in the fifth inning. He walked with his first loss of the season. The pen pitched well, but the Tigers couldn’t put the runs on the board to come back.
The only real hitting highlight was Alan Trammell hitting his sixth homerun. Darrell Evans also put up a two hit game.
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 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 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.
April 21, 1984 Tigers 4, White Sox 1 (11-1)
It’s not too often where you have a player score three of the teams four runs in a game, but that’s exactly what Lou Whitaker did in this one. Lou led off the game with a solo homerun. In the third he’d draw a walk, and eventually score on a Darrell Evans ground out. And then in the seventh, he’d score on an Alan Trammell single. Lou knew how to get on base. Over his career, he walked almost as many times as he struck out, and was an excellent two strike hitter. He wasn’t your protypical lead off man because he didn’t steal a lot of bases, but he worked the count well, and managed to put together some nice seasons in the middle 1980s.
Dave Rozema really shut down the White Sox. He only went six innings, but he allowed just two hits and two walks, while striking out seven. Doug Bair would come in to finish the game and get a three inning save.
And with that, the Tigers tied the mark for the best start of the season by an American League team. They stood at 11-1, and were already out to a 3 1/2 game lead in the AL East.
April 10, 1984 – Tigers 5, Rangers 1 (6-0)
Dan Petry went the distance in this one, yielding a run and two hits in the first inning, and then only giving up two hits the rest of the way, all while striking out seven.
Once again, the Tigers only had five hits, but they made them all count. Darrell Evans hit a three run homer on his very first swing at Tiger Stadium in the first inning. Dave Stewart wouldn’t even make it out of the first inning (five walks, two hits, and four runs in 2/3 of inning).
And with the win, the Tigers tied their franchise best start ever. One really interesting thing about the Tigers 1984 season is that Jack Morris and Willie Hernandez got quite a bit of the credit for carrying this team, but it was Dan Petry and Milt Wilcox who helped Morris anchor a great rotation.
In fact, in some respects Dan Petry had an even better year the Morris. He didn’t have the no-hitter, but his ERA was better (3.24 vs. 3.60) and so was his WHIP (1.273 vs. 1.282). Both had just about the same number of strikeouts (144 for Petry and 148 for Morris). Not to diminish Morris’ role, because he was the leader, but Petry had an outstanding year in his own right.
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