Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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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.
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 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 31, 1984 Tigers 5, Indians 1 (71-32)
Juan Berenguer set the stage with 6 1/3 innings of four hit ball. Doug Bair finished the game with 2 2/3 perfect innings. Once again, a fine showing by the bullpen, and this time, it wasn’t even the usual Lopez/Hernandez tandem.
The Tigers scored all five of their runs in the second inning. Ruppert Jones hit a solo homer, Doug Baker had a three run triple, and Lou Whitaker drove in one on a sacrafice fly. Kirk Gibson added two hits.
July 31, 1984 Indians 6, Tigers 4 (71-33)
Dave Rozema got shelled and left the game in the third inning. Despite an amazing pitching performance by Aurilio Lopez, the Tigers couldn’t come back in this one.
You don’t see this anymore. Ever. Aurilio Lopez, basically the Tigers set up man, started pitching in the third, and finished the game. 6 2/3 innings of shutout relief. He gave up four hits, one walk, and stuck out five. Having Bair, Lopez and Hernandez gave Sparky a ton of flexibility, knowing he had three quality arms in the pen.
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 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.
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 7, 1984 Tigers 5, Rangers 2 (57-26)
This was a nice win. At this stage of the season, Dave Rozema was basically a fifth starter/long reliever. In this slot, you wouldn’t expect too much from him, but he threw a fine game, going six innings and giving up only one earned run. Willie Hernandez pitched the final three innings, giving up only one hit and striking out five, to earn his sixteenth save of the season.
Lance Parrish hit his sixteenth homer and scored twice. Ruppert Jones went three for four, scoring once and driving in a run.
July 2, 1984 White Sox 7, Tigers 1 (55-23)
Two tough losses in a row. Once again, neither the pitching or the offense was there. The Tigers managed only one run on five hits, and starter Dave Rozema was sent to the bench after only four innings of work.
Alan Trammell had two hits as the designated hitter. Sparky mentions in his book “Bless You Boys” that Tram’s arm was bothering him at this point of the season, so he played him at DH during this series. Doug Baker made his major league debut in place of Tram at shortstop. Baker would play bits and pieces of seven major league seasons for the Tigers and the Twins.
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 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 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.
April 26, 1984 Tigers 7, Rangers 5 (16-1)
Neither starter was effective in this one. Future Tiger Frank Tanana gave up six runs in less then four innings, and Dave Rozema was just marginally better as he gave up five runs in 4 1/3. Once the starters were pulled, things really calmed down, as only the Tigers scored one run in the final four innings of this one. Doug Bair pitched two shutout innings to notch his second relief win of the year, and Aurelio Lopez threw 2 2/3 perfect innings to garner his second save.
Whitaker, Trammell, Herndon, and Lemon all had multi-hit games, and Lance Parrish homered in his third consecutive game, boosting his season total to five.
With the win, the Tigers improved to 16-1 on the season, and had a six game lead in the AL East. Everyone points to their 35-5 start, which is simply an incredible start, but it’s only after you go back and see what they actually did throughout those first couple of months can you appreciate what this team accomplished.
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 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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