Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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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.
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.
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
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 3, 1984 Orioles 7, Tigers 4 (88-50)
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 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 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 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.
August 11, 1984 Tigers 9, Royals 5 (76-41)
It wasn’t his best outing of the year, but Jack Morris went one batter short from going the distance, as he gave up five runs on eleven hits. Aurelio Lopez struck out the final batter to earn his twelth save.
August 7, 2004 Red Sox 12, Tigers 7 (73-40)
Jack Morris got pounded again. Coming off the heels of the best start he’s had in a while, Jack gave up six hits, two walks and nine runs 1 1/3 innings, forcing Sparky to go to the pen early. Bruce Hurst was hardly stellar, but when you’re given a seven run lead after two innings, there’s not much you can do to lose the game.
August 7, 1984 Tigers 7, Red Sox 5 (74-40)
Milt Wilcox cruised through the first six innings, and then gave up four runs in the seventh to give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead. As a precursor to the 1986 World Series debacle, Dave Bergman scored in the ninth on an error by firstbasemen Bill Buckner that sent the game into extra innings.
August 2, 1984 Tigers 2, Indians 1 (72-34)
Jack Morris bounced back nicely after a bad stretch of outings by throwing eight solid innings. He gave up seven hits, walked none, and struck out one. The only damage against him was a solo shot by Andre Thornton.
Bert Blyleven threw a nice game as well, but a two run shot in the fifth by Lou Whitaker would end up being all the Tigers needed.
July 28, 1984 Red Sox 3, Tigers 2 (69-32)
The 70th win of the season keeps on eluding Detroit, as Jack Morris pitched his best game in a while, but still came away with the loss. Jack threw seven innings, giving up eight hits and three runs while striking out seven. But three Boston pitchers held the Tigers to two runs, while striking out ten.
Lou Whitaker, Chet Lemon, and Kirk Gibson all had two hits. Lou hit his sixth homer of the year.
July 23, 1984 Tiger 4, Indians 1 (67-29)
The Indians gave Jack Morris a rough time, walking five times and getting five hits in six innings. But, most importantly, he stopped everyone from crossing the plate. The Indians didn’t score until the bottom of the ninth on a solo homerun by Andre Thornton off of Doug Bair.
Kirk Gibson hit his fifteenth homer and drove in two runs, and Lance Parrish hit his twentieth homerun to lead the Tigers offense.
July 18, 1984 White Sox 10, Tigers 6 (62-29)
It’s not too often that your ace gets shelled to stop a nice winning streak, but that’s what happened as Jack Morris gave up 10 hits and seven runs in four innings of work. The last time Jack Morris won a start was June 24, nearly a month ago.
Larry Herndon drove in three runs on a triple, and Lance Parrish hit his eighteenth homer of the season.
July 13, 1984 Tigers 5, Twins 3 (58-28)
Jack Morris and the usual suspects in the pen, Aurilio Lopez and Willie Hernandez, kept the Tigers in this one just long enough for the bats to get going and win the game for them.
Jack Morris pitched one of his better games in a while, going 7 1/3, walking none, and giving up only eight hits and three runs (one earned, two unearned).
The game was saved by Kirk Gibson, who threw Tim Teufel out at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth (Thanks again to Sparky’s Bless You Boys, this doesn’t show up in the boxscores). Then in the top half of the eleventh, Lou Whitaker hit a two run in the park homerun to put the Tigers up for good. Willie Hernandez improved to 5-0, and Aurilio Lopez earned his tenth save.
July 8, 1984 Rangers 9, Tigers 7 (57-27)
Doug Bair got his only start of the season, and basically got pummelled. Jack Morris was picked to pitch in the All Star Game, so Sparky had to let him have the day off on this Sunday game. Bair only lasted 2 2/3, and by the end of the third inning, the Tigers found themselves down seven to nothing. An inning later, and it was eight to two.
The Tigers made an attempt to come back, scoring four in the sixth and one in the seventh, but it just wasn’t enough. Chet Lemon went two for three with three RBIs, and Howard Johnson hit his eighth homer of the year, and drove in three.
Since starting 35-5, the Tiger’s went into the break still exactly 30 games above .500. So for an extended stretch, they were basically playing .500 ball. They still held a seven game lead, but it still didn’t seem like enough.
July 3, 1984 White Sox 9, Tigers 5 (55-24)
This one was pretty ugly. Jack Morris gave up eight runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings after the Tigers scored three runs in the first on a three run homer by Lance Parrish.
Hall of Famer Tom Seaver got the win for the White Sox. Near the end of a great career, Tom Seaver went 15-11 in 1984, and won 16 games the following year. In 1986, he pitched for the AL pennant winning Red Sox, but missed the post season, I think because of injury.
For those of you who have never picked up and at least flipped through Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, you’re definitely missing something. Pound for pound, there’s more baseball information in this book then any you’ll find. In it, Bill James lists Tom Seaver as the sixth best pitcher, but like Roger Clemens, mentions that you could put him into the number one spot because of the era he played in.
But the numbers he put up are astounding. 311-205, a career 2.86 ERA, a career 127 Adjusted ERA+. and a almost 3/1 strikeout to walk ratio. Tom finished in the top 10 in the Cy Young voting 10 times, and walked away with three awards. In 1971, he had an Adjusted ERA+ of 193. And his 61 shutouts puts him at seventh all time.
And he’d get the best of the Tigers on this day back in 1984. Ruppert Jones and Howard Johnson also had homeruns, and Kirk Gibson went two for three.
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 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 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 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 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.
May 28, 1984 Tigers 6, A’s 2 (36-8)
A four run first sealed this one pretty early as Jack Morris didn’t give the A’s much to work with. He improved to 10-1, went the distance, and only gave up six hits while striking out eight. On top of that, neither of the two runs he gave up were earned.
Jack Morris was definitely the Tigers “ace.” This term gets thrown around a lot, but in my mind, it’s basically a great pitcher who’s also a losing streak stopper. Someone who goes out, and no matter how bad the team is doing, does what it takes to end that streak. And that’s exactly what Morris did here. He’d have his troubles later in the year (10-1 was sort of his pinnacle, as he’d go 9-10 the rest of the way), but the Tigers needed a win here to stop the three game skid.
I also specifically remember at around this point was when the “30 win” talk began to heat up.
Lance Parrish hit his eighth homer of the season, and Alan Trammell went three for four.
May 24, 1984 Tigers 5, Angels 1 (35-5)
Jack Morris is one of those players who ends up in history making situations. He’d later do it for the Twins in his classic 10 inning, Game 7 shutout during the 1991 World Series. He’d also be a part of history again in 1984 as he’d win the game most people recognize as what the 1984 Tigers embodied, their 35-5 start.
Morris would get off to a shaky start, giving up two hits and one unearned run in the first. He then went on to only give up two hits the rest of the way, while ending up with 10 strikeouts.
Alan Trammell’s two run homer in the fourth led to a four run inning that put the Tiger’s up for good. Lance Parrish added a solo shot in the sixth, but it was a run they wouldn’t end up needing.
With the win, the Tiger’s improved to 35-5, the best start ever over the course of the first quarter of the season (and as far as I could determine, the best 40 game stretch ever). They broke an AL record with their 17th consecutive road victory, and also tied the 1916 New York Giant’s major league record for consecutive road victories. It was truly a memorable day, and the 35-5 start would go down as possibly the Tiger’s greatest single accomplishment in the history of the franchise.
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 15, 1984 Tigers 6, Mariners 4 (28-5)
When your starter walks five, and your team makes three errors, you don’t usually expect to win. The Tigers almost blew a 6-1 lead in this one, but held on with some good relief pitching by Willie Hernandez.
Jack Morris notched his seventh win, but he walked five and gave up four runs. Willie Hernadez came into the game in the eighth, and was awesome. He struck out five of the six batters he faced, and earned his fifth save.
The Tigers bats showed some patience as they scored six runs on only five hits. They walked twelve times. Kirk Gibson drove in two without getting a hit (two sac. flies) and Howard Johnson had a two run single.
May 8, 1984 Tigers 5, Royals 2 (24-4)
For most of the early 1980s, when you think of closers, you thought of Dan Quisenberry. With his submarine pitching style, Dan led the league in saves in five of six seasons from 1980 through 1985. He wasn’t a big strikeout guy, but he rarely walked batters, and had a career 1.175 WHIP. He was also a more durable closer then people are now are used to, as during his prime years, he never pitched less then 128 innings.
1984 was one of those league leading years, for Dan Quisenberry but for the first time in his career, he made the BIG mistake. With the Tigers down 2-1, Dan inherited the bases loaded from starter Bud Black, and Alan Trammell made them all pay as he sent the ball over the leftfield fence for his third homer and first grand slam of the season. It was the first time Dan Quisenberry had ever given up a grand slam in his career.
Give credit to Jack Morris as well. He pitched another complete game, giving up only seven hits and two runs, while striking out five.
May 3, 1984 Red Sox 1, Tigers 0 (19-4)
A few firsts in this one. This was the first time the Tigers were shut out. It was also their first two game losing streak. And finally, it was Jack Morris’ first loss, despite throwing a heck of game.
His only real blemish was an eighth inning solo homer to Dwight Evans, but that would be all the Sox would need. For the second game in a row, the Tigers out hit the other team, but walked away with a loss.
The Tigers threatened in the ninth, so once again, they didn’t go down without a fight. Lance Parrish singled with one out and Larry Herndon walked. But Chet Lemon flew out, and Kirk Gibson struck out to end the game.
April 28, 1984 Tigers 6, Indians 2 (17-2)
In Sparky Anderson’s book on the 1984 season, “Bless You Boys,” he mentions that he sent Jack Morris home in the 13th inning of the previous night’s game, and that move may have made the difference in this one, as he basically shutdown a tired Indians team. He only gave up three hits and three walks in nine innings, and the three runs the Tigers scored in the first two innings were all the Tigers would need in this one.
Chet Lemon and Lou Whitaker hit homers. Trammell knocked in two with a double and stole his seventh base of the season. Detroit was also effecient in this one, garnering ten hits and two walks, while only stranding four baserunners.
April 24, 1984 – Game 1 – Tigers 6, Twins 5 (13-1)
Jack Morris had his worst outing of the season so far, but managed to walk away with his fourth straight victory. He went the distance, giving up five runs on seven hits and five walks. But as was typical of this magical season, it was just enough as the Tigers won in dramatic fashion.
The Tigers entered the bottom of the ninth down 5-3. Kirk Gibson led off the inning with a triple. John Grubb then reached base on a fielder’s choice (and would leave the game as Rusty Kuntz would run for him). Dave Bergman then drove in Gibson with an RBI single, cutting the lead to one rune.
Then, the wheels really came off the wagon as relief pitcher Ron Davis would put one in the dirt, allowing the tying run to score on a wild pitch, and moving Bergman over to second. Howard Johnson grounded out to third, and with one out, Chet Lemon was given the intentional pass. Lance Parrish then lined out to second base.
So with two outs, and runners on first and second, Lou Whitaker singled, and drove in Bergman to win the game. Tigers Win 6-5!!!
April 24, 1984 – Game 2 – Tigers 4, Twins 3 (13-1)
Lance Parrish hit a three run homer in the fifth inning, and Aurelio Lopez shut the Twins down in the final three innings in the back end of the double header. Starter Dan Petry was forced to leave the game with a sore shoulder in the third.
Glenn Abbott took over in the fourth and gave up two runs in the top half of the sixth, but Parrish answered in the next inning with his three run shot.
Aurelio Lopez got the three inning save, as he pitched three shutout innings, giving up only one hit and two walks, while striking out three.
April 18, 1984 – Detroit 4, Royals 3, 10 innings (9-0)
After a four day break because of Mother Nature, the Tigers started right where they left off, beating the Royals 4-3 for their franchise best ninth straight victory to start the season.
Jack Morris got off to a great start, but he gave up a 3-0 lead iin the eighth inning, giving up a three run homer to Jorge Orta. Morris would end up pitching nine innings, but would yield to Willie Hernandez in extra innings, who would eventually got on to get the win by pitching a perfect tenth inning.
With two outs and Tram on third, Larry Herndon would hit a grounder to the eight time gold glove winning second basemen of the Royals, Frank White. White bobbled the ball, allowing Herndon to reach base, and Tram to score the winning run.
April 12, 1984 – Tigers 9, Rangers 4 (7-0)
Alan Trammell, Chet Lemon, and Lou Whitaker all homered, as the Tigers trounced the Rangers 9-4. Through five innings, Texas was hanging in there, but the Tigers scored four in the sixth to put the game out of reach.
Jack Morris was his usual self, going seven innings, while giving up seven hits and one walk. The only two runs he gave up were unearned.
And with that win, the Tigers broke the franchise record for most consecutive wins to start the season. They also already had a three game lead in their division. The only question for Tiger fans was how long they could keep it up.
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.
April 7, 1984 – Tigers 4, White Sox 0 (4-0)
For the second game in a row, the Tigers only had five hits. but that was more then enough in this one, as Jack Morris went the distance, and threw the first Tiger no-hitter since Jim Bunning did it back in 1958. Morris actually walked the bases loaded in the fourth inning, but got Greg Luzinski to hit into a 1-2-3 double play to get him out of the jam.
I distinctly remember this game. It was on a Saturday, which was the day we usually went to evening mass. The game wasn’t done when we left, so I made everyone listen to the game on the radio on the drive over there, and I even waited until the game was done before getting out of the car. I was glued to the radio.
April 3, 1984 – Detroit 8, Twins 1 (1-0)
Jack Morris was about as impressive as a pitcher could be in an opening day appearance, pitching seven innings, while giving up only one run on five hits. All while striking out eight. The Tigers drew first blood in the third with a one run double by Howard Johnson, and a one run single by Tram. After scoring these two runs, the Tigers would never look back, as the only dent the Twins would be able to make was in the second half of the inning, when Twins put one on the board.
And what would become an trend all season, Aurelio Lopez pitched a perfect eighth, and Willie (Guillermo) Hernandez pitched a perfect ninth. It wouldn’t always be those same innings, but those two guys were the anchor of a great pen, and you’ll be seeing their names pop up quite often.
April 4, 1984 – Day Off (1-0)
April 5, 1984 – Tigers 7, Twins 3 (2-0)
Dan Petry gave up the lead early in this one (two runs in the second), but the Tigers bounced back by scoring one in the third and three in the fourth. Petry calmed, and ended up going seven. Willie Hernandez then did the job by pitching perfect eight and nine innings. Alan Trammell and Kirk Gibson led the way on offense. Both hit homeruns (Gibby’s was a three run shot to put the Tigers up for good in the fourth), and Tram went three for four.
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